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the web of life in southern Africa

Hilda patruelis

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum: Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Paraneoptera > Condylognatha > Hemiptera (bugs) > Auchenorrhyncha > Fulgoroidea > Family: Tettigometridae

Hilda patruelis on a wild fig and being tended for honeydew by pugnaceous ants Anoplolepis custodiens. On the right hand side is a large batch of eggs and on the eggs are tiny little encyrtid parasitic wasps (probably Psyllechthrus oophagus) that parasitise the eggs. [photo H. Robertson ]


Hilda patruelis is by far the most common of the three species of tettigometrid recorded from southern Africa and is found on a wide range of host plants including groundnuts and wild fig trees Ficus species. Like many other bugs, Hilda attracts ants by expelling droplets of sugary liquid called honeydew. It has been found that on fig trees, the ants attracted by Hilda drive off the parasitic wasps that parasitise the larvae of the fig wasp pollinator and thus benefit the tree by increasing pollinator production. They also increase plant fitness by driving off seed predators as well.

Further Reading

  • Compton, S.G. & Robertson, H.G. 1988. Complex interactions between mutualisms: ants tending homopterans protect fig seeds and pollinators. Ecology 69: 1302-1305.

  • Weaving, A.J.S. 1980. Observations on Hilda patruelis Stal. (Homoptera: Tettigometridae) and its infestation of the groundnut crop in Rhodesia. Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa 43: 151-167.