Leafhopper Brochosomes

This was a brand-new project for the ABCLAb in 2020. Read more about how we started here. Insect wings exhibit nano- and micro- features that give the surface unique properties (e.g., hydrophobicity, antimicrobial activity, and (anti-)reflectivity). Leafhopper insects (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) produce and spread nanoscale, lipid-protein granules, called brochosomes, onto their bodies through various grooming behaviors. Although the exact purpose of brochosomes is still unknown, it is hypothesized that they help the insects to stay dry, clean, and camouflaged. We are currently investigating the morphology and wettability of brochosomes from various leafhopper species as well as their mechanical properties. This exploration will further inform the guided design of novel materials involving particle based systems.

Project Lead: Elizabeth Bello 


  • Dr. Charles Schroeder – Schroeder Group – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Dr. Nenad Miljkovic – Energy Transport Research Lab – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The photograph below shows a scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of brochosomes on the wing a Curtara insularis leafhopper taken by Elizabeth Bello.


Check out these amazing pictures of leafhoppers by Alexander Wild (UT Austin) by clicking on the thumbnail below.

Or how about a video of closely related treehoppers hopping by Adrian Smith (NC State)?