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  1. The Arthropods' Weekly Bulletin/

Unexpected powers

·2 mins

I am Zirpa, the small, inconspicuous bay leafhopper. Last week you read about Natalie the Cucumber Green Spider, and like her, I’m pretty tiny at only 6 mm. Maybe that’s why other insects sometimes make fun of me. They call me frail, but they don’t know the whole story.

This life on laurel and olive trees is beautiful and at the same time a constant struggle for survival. My world is a mixture of the gentle bobbing of the leaves, the sounds of the wind and the threat of a few enemies, some of which, like the dwarf wasp, have even specialized on me. Every day I overcome exciting challenges that some of my larger relatives would never experience. Despite my delicate appearance, I have a very strong character.

We leafhoppers prefer not to be exposed to the cold. Over the last few decades, my species has spread from the Middle East and Caucasus to Western Europe; a testament to our adaptability in a world that is getting warmer and warmer. What may come as a surprise: the first bay leafhopper was spotted in Germany as recently as 2008. We are also already native to Belgium and France. Our simple patterning, which may seem unremarkable, is the result of a much longer evolution that has always shaped us to suit our environment. And the warmer it gets, the further north we settle. Will I soon have relatives in Scandinavia? I wish the other insects understood that it’s not just about height. It’s the ability to adapt and survive despite challenges that counts. We leafhoppers cannot influence the climate, but we can try to find our place in this rapidly changing world.

I may be small, but my world is limitless, an adventure just waiting to be experienced. In this land of giants, where every step is an earthquake and every sound is thunder, I am more than just a leafhopper. I am an explorer, an adventurer in my microscopic universe. Every day brings new wonders, from the glittering dewdrops that lie like diamonds on the leaves to the spectacular sunsets that transform my green home into a sea of color.