Bug Week



While the Eastern black swallowtail boasts shades of orange and blue that could almost pass muster with the UF branding standards, nobody will say that about our next pair of ORANGE AND BLUE! bugs, the sharpshooters Oncometopia orbana and Oncometopia nigricans. Perhaps it’s just as well.

Color-wise, both species look alike — turquoise wings and a yellow/orange body.

The reason we’re not crazy about these bugs sporting (sorta-kinda) UF colors is, they’re both vectors for the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which causes Pierce’s disease, a malady that has largely prevented Florida production of Vitis vinifera wine grapes.

Oncometopia nigricans appears in the seventh photo from the top in this “Featured Creatures” page about sharpshooters — http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/fruit/sharpshooters/sharpshooters.htm

Collectively, the sharpshooters are large leafhoppers in the family Cicadellidae. Equipped with piercing/sucking mouthparts, they feed on the xylem fluids of various plants. Because xylem fluid is mostly water and contains few nutrients, sharpshooters must consume large amounts of fluid.

The sharpshooters’ eating habits sometimes cause problems for growers, harming plants with wounds and loss of xylem fluid. But Pierce’s disease remains the biggest concern associated with sharpshooters.

So… maybe we’ll just let UCLA claim the bragging rights on these bugs.