Are treehoppers not under the global warming threat?

When the entire world is concerned about the adverse effects of global warming, some small insects
called treehoppers are utilising this time to mate. As concluded by research, a lot of reproductive
traits are thermally sensitive. However, this field is vastly understudied. Likewise, treehoppers are utilising the warming climates to their favour. As their mating season approaches, male treehoppers attract their potential mates. They use vibration songs sent through the stems of the plants. The mating occurs only when the female is interested and they spark in a duet.

Scientists have figured out that there is a thermal window when these insects are active and
temperature differences majorly affect their mating. The pitch of the song a male treehopper sings
to serenade their potential partner varies with temperature. At higher temperatures, a male
treehopper sends out calls that are high-pitched. A team at Saint Louis University conducted a research under Kasey Fowler-Finn, an assistant professor of Biology, to see how global warming and varying temperatures prove to be problematic for these insects.

Their research showed that the treehoppers adjusted to adverse climatic conditions, even in hot
temperatures, to pursue their mates. The study was conducted on insects from Missouri and Illinois.
The experiment showed how, along with the change in the male treehopper’s song, the female pitch
also tends to change adjusting to the surrounding temperature. According to Fowler-Finn, these
“signals and preferences is just one part of the puzzle” and they need to conduct further research in
order to conclude their study on heat-related resilience in these insects.

Others suggested that the research should go beyond studying these insects and focus on other
animals of the fauna. A professor at the University of California, Damian Elias, says, “It does suggest
that some animals have an adaptation to temperature, at least for breeding. That’s basically
something we need to look at across all arthropod systems, or all cold-blooded systems.”

Subarna Basu

Originally published at