Delphacid Planthoppers of North America

Introduction to North American delphacid planthoppers

This site compiles information about delphacid planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Delphacidae), with a particular emphasis on American north of Mexico. The content of this site is continually being developed and updated. One of the goals is to provide materials for state identifiers, APHIS, or USDA-PPQ to be able to quickly recognize potentially invasive species.  When finished, this site will include Lucid3 identification keys to North American delphacid species (a draft key to common species is available on the "Identification Key Guide" link to left), plus about 40 possibly invasive species of economic interest, plus host plants, taxonomy, morphology, phylogeny, life history, collecting and preservation techniques, and other topics of interest.

What are delphacids?
Planthoppers are insects related to leafhoppers, treehoppers, spittlebugs and cicadas (but are in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha instead of the Cicadomorpha).  Most species are between 2-4 mm in size (ranging from ~1.5 - ~10.0 mm). Delphacids are easily distinguished from other planthoppers and similar insect families (i.e., the cicadomorphs) by the presence of a large, movable spur (the 'calcar') on the apex of the hind tibiae.  Delphacids are mostly grass-feeders, although some feed on sedges, rushes, and broad-leaved plants, especially those in the aster family.  

Syndelphax alexanderi Delphacidae Delphacinae Delphacini Calcar

The calcar of Syndelphax alexanderi.

Number of species
Worldwide, there over 2,100 described species of delphacids (my count: 2,163 species in 378 genera);  however, there are also many species that are not described (i.e., not “known to science”).  Most new species are from the tropics, but some new species will turn up from otherwise well-known regions, such as the eastern United States.  North of Mexico, there are 61 genera and 312 species in the U.S. (in 4 subfamilies and 4 tribes) plus an additional 5 genera and 26 species in Canada (total 66 genera, 338 species).  Canada has 39 genera and 146 species by my count.  From Mexico and south (including Caribbean) there are 67 genera and 304 described species (excluding 1 nomen dubium and 2 subspecies).  In total for the New World, there are 100 genera and 576 species.

Delphacids are broadly and rather evenly distributed from tropical to arctic latitudes, including all continents and islands, except Antarctica.  While species diversity may eventually be shown to be highest in moist tropical regions, at present most species have been described from north temperate regions.  Far northern regions, such as Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia have surprisingly diverse faunas (however, the reported fauna of Iceland is a single species).  Distant oceanic islands such as Hawaii and the Galapagos have endemic faunas and adventive species (Hawaii has 143 endemic species plus 10 adventive).

Below: Eurysa brunnea Melichar, 1896

Stiromoides maculiceps (Horvath, 1903) (My mistake; thanks Herbert Nickel)

Suggested citation of web site:

Bartlett, C. R. and contributors. 2014 (and updates). Delphacid planthoppers of North America., accessed on [date].

Contact: Bartlett[at]


Photographs, unless otherwise indicated, are by Kimberley Shropshire, Charles Bartlett, or UD Dept. Entomology grad students.  Such photos were supported by USDA NRI Grant No. 2009-55605-05006, and are available (with attribution) for educational, scientific, or other non-commercial use based on a creative commons license.  Photos from other sources are used by permission and attributed to that source - permission for further use is not mine to grant and should be sought from the attributed source.