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Is this a pupa of some kind? - Cladochaeta sturtevanti

Is this a pupa of some kind? - Cladochaeta sturtevanti
Webb Canyon, ~2000 ft. elevation, Los Angeles County, California, USA
August 21, 2009
The subject of this photo was originally the obvious "spittle" mass made by an unknown species of Cercopoidea on Artemesia californica. (That darkish blob towards the bottom of the stem is possibly an enclosed nymph?) However, I just noticed that there is another interesting structure just above the spittle mass (see 2nd photo for close-up) -- Is this a pupa of some kind? If so, can anyone make a guess as to what type of insect may have made it? Any help with an ID, or even speculative comments, would be great! Thanks.

Surrounding habitat is chaparral and mixed oak woodland.

Images of this individual: tag all
Is this a pupa of some kind? - Cladochaeta sturtevanti Is this a pupa of some kind? - Cladochaeta sturtevanti

Moved from Spittlebug Flies.


OK, for anyone that's interested...
...I finally got around to uploading the other pics I found which I believe show similar structures in association with the spittle masses. Speculation and comments would be much appreciated! As far as size goes, I think the Clastoptera species in question is around 4 mm or so, which would make the object probably somewhere in the 3 mm range...

Exactly how big is this thing, anyway?
I'd like to believe that this is a puparium of one of the drosophilids that develop exclusively in spittlebug spittle. It might be worth checking out this reference. I always have trouble downloading files from that site for some reason, so I haven't seen it yet. Puparia of the common Drosophila spp. found in kitchens etc. are 3 mm long. They're not as pointy as this thing, but they have a vaguely similar slanted anterior end.

I was really hoping that it wouldn't come down to size...
...on this one because I didn't take any measurements at the time. However, around 3 mm seems plausible. What I can do tomorrow is go and measure some of those little terminal buds on the Artemesia californica and that should give us some kind of ballpark.

It would be truly fascinating if this did turn out to be an example of Drosophila puparia!! Thanks for the lead, Charley. My computer is still chugging away on that PDF, but I'm not sure if it's going to work for me either... Did you see this other article abstract? I can't get access to the whole article, but the first page is pretty interesting. (Actually, I think I might know a way to get a hold of the entire article, but it will take a bit of time...)

More exciting news -- I just finished looking through my other spittlebug images and I think I have a few more pictures of similar-looking objects from other locations!! Again, they weren't the subject of my photos, so the quality is not so great. Still, I will try and also post those tomorrow.

Moved from ID Request.

Could it be?
A mutilated abdomen or larva? The upper edge looks odd to me.

Hmmm... I have no idea! :-)
I've looked at A LOT of larva and pupa images in the last several days, but nothing seems to really match up. I'd still say that a pupa of some kind seems like the best match, but potentially this one is deformed or dessicated (???). I really wish I had noticed it at the time that I took these shots because I would definitely have tried to capture more detail... Anyway, seems as though there is enough head-scratching going on over this one that I'm going to move it to the "mysteries" page.

What I meant was "a mutilated abdomen of an adult or larva". Cover the top of the image with your finger and it looks like the abdomen of some adult insects; although I wouldn't have any idea which.
As for Drosophila puparia, they are not as pointy nor have such distinct rings.

From what little I have read on the subject...
...I think that most of the spittlebug nymphs and the potential drosophilid larvae should have already reached their adult form long before this late date in August. My guess (and it's really only a wild guess) is that the structure in this image has been fairly dessicated by exposure to the sun. (I believe drosophilid larvae are usually at least somewhat encapsulated within the spittle itself.) Perhaps this drying out would account for the unusual appearance?

Thanks, Ken & Charley...
...for trying to help me figure this one out. That would be interesting if it were a syrphid puparium, though it doesn't look much like the other ones currently in the guide... Perhaps it got a little dried-out and baked in our brutal August sunshine? :-)

Opinions on whether I should frass these shots? I suppose the other option is to move them here.

One vote for moving to "mysteries."
It's a very distinctive structure, and would be worth having on hand in case someone else comes upon something similar (or someone visits who happens to know what it is).

I'd speculate
that it's a syrphid puparium... but without much conviction.

Since no one else has commented...
It certainly has a pupal look about it. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a match, so all I can offer is this (rather pathetic) agreement with your observation. :)

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