This Lanternfly From Southeast Asia Is a Sight to Behold

Pyrops candelariaIn addition to creating illustrations for legal exhibits and medical journals, I sometimes have an opportunity to study the anatomical structures of other species in my work as well. Such is the case in this illustration of a truly stunning insect that lives in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Commonly known as a lanternfly, this insect belonging to the genus of planthoppers is instantly recognizable thanks to the hollow horn-like structure protruding from its head. In many cases, this horn can be nearly as big as the lanternfly’s body.

This particular species of lanternfly (Pyrops candelaria) is also characterized by its vibrant coloration, which made it a joy to illustrate.

Curiously, the lanternfly’s name is derived from an old myth that its horn glows in the dark. This myth was conveyed to famed taxonomist Carl Linnaeus before he gave the insect its common and scientific names, and by the time his error was discovered the names had already stuck.

Lanternflies survive in the wild by using a long, slender proboscis (which is distinct from the horn structure) to extract sap from trees and plants. Because this sap is high in sugar but low in other important nutrients, lanternflies secrete excess sugar as honeydew onto their bodies. As a result, you can sometimes find moths and geckos licking honeydew off the backs of lanternflies in a symbiotic relationship called trophobiosis.

This illustration was done using colored pencil and ink on 18” x 24” paper. Drawing on such a large canvas allowed me to capture a great deal of detail in the lanternfly’s body and wings. To learn more about this or any of the other illustrations you can find in my portfolio, feel free to give me a call or reach out to me online!