Sustainability Environment

New species of ‘incredibly rare’ insect discovered in Uganda

Story at a glance

  • Alvin Helden of Anglia Ruskin University discovered a new species of leafhopper in Kibale National Park in western Uganda, which has been named Phlogis kibalensis.
  • Prior to his discovery, a leafhopper of this genus hadn’t been spotted since 1969.
  • At just 6.5mm long, the Phlogis kibalensis is identifiable by its metallic luster and “uniquely-shaped male reproductive organs” resembling that of a partial leaf.

A British scientist discovered a new species of an “incredibly rare” insect in Uganda. 

According to the new report in the journal Zootaxa, Alvin Helden of Anglia Ruskin University discovered a new species of leafhopper in Kibale National Park in western Uganda, which has been named Phlogis kibalensis.  

“To find this new species is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement,” Helden said in a press release, adding, “I knew it was something very special as soon as I spotted it.” 

Prior to his discovery, a leafhopper of this genus hadn’t been spotted since 1969.  


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At just 6.5mm long, the Phlogis kibalensis is identifiable by its metallic luster and “uniquely-shaped male reproductive organs” resembling that of a partial leaf.   

“Leafhoppers of this genus, and the wider tribe, are very unusual in appearance, and are rarely found,” said Helden. “In fact, they are so incredibly rare that their biology remains almost completely unknown, and we know almost nothing about Phlogis kibalensis, the new species I found.”   

While leafhoppers typically feed on plant sap and are the prey of predators such as spiders, beetles, and birds, little is known about the diet of this newly identified species.   

“There is so much still to find out,” Helden said. “Not just about this species but so many others, including the many species that are still waiting to be discovered.” 


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