Is this a delphacid?

An overview of the North American planthopper families
1. Acanaloniidae (click family name for additional photos)

Dorsal view of Acanalonia conica (Acanaloniidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).

Acanalonia conica (Acanaloniidae); photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center.


Acanaloniids are medium sized, usually green (sometimes pink, although Euthiscia tuberculata from southern California is brown), wedge-shaped planthoppers that carry their wings parallel to the sides of their body.  Acanaloniids are closely related to issids, but are more often mistaken for flatid planthoppers (see Flatidae).  Acanaloniids are most easily found by sweeping or searching weedy or semiperennial vegetation or by searching semi-woody herbs or shrubs (both adults and nymphs may be found this way).  Acanaloniids feed on a variety of woody dicots, particularly plants in the rose and aster families.  There are 2 genera and 20 species of acanaloniids in the United States.

Photos of additional acanaloniids on the Acanalonia web page.

2. Achilidae

Dorsal view of Catonia picta (Achilidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).


Achilids are flattened, medium to small sized planthoppers, generally with a brown or earth-toned color theme.  They are most easily recognized by having the wings overlapping over the end of the abdomen.  There are 8 genera and 55 species north of Mexico, with the highest diversity in the southwest.  Achilid planthoppers are thought to feed on fungal hyphae and are sometimes found in rotting logs (both nymphs and adults).  Adults evidently feed on a variety of woody plants and may be taken by beating woody vegetation; however, adults come readily to lights (sometimes in large numbers), particularly in warm, humid weather in mid to late summer.
3. Cixiidae
Dorsal view of Bothriocera cognita (Cixiidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).
Cixiids are medium to small planthoppers, most of which are somewhat flattened, with clear or patterned wings. Cixiidae may have a median ocellus (located on the face, just above the clypeus, when present). Among planthoppers, only cixiids and kinnarids have a median ocellus. At least 15 genera and 178 species are in the US, with the highest diversity in the southwest. As nymphs, cixiids are subterranean root-feeders (perhaps fungus) and are rarely observed. As adults, many species (particularly smaller forms) are associated with grasses or herbaceous monocots in rich, mesic or wet situations and may be found by sweeping (although Cixius is largely associated with pines) in mid to late summer or early fall. Some cixiids readily come to lights, particularly in warm, humid weather in mid- to late summer, particularly in open woodlands or woodland edges, but may sit on vegetation near the light source instead of coming to the light. I have also found some of the larger cixiid species in mature woods resting on tree bark (particularly oaks with lichens), where they are cryptic.
4. Delphacidae
Dorsal view of Copicerus irroratus (Delphacidae) (scale = 0.5 mm). Additional pdfs of Delphacidae: pdf2, pdf3, pdf4 pdf5, pdf6, pdf7, pdf8

Delphacids are small to tiny planthoppers represented by approximately 58 genera and 322 species in the United States. As a family, they can be recognized by the apical spur on the hind leg. In the field, however, they appear quite similar to the far more abundant leafhoppers. Delphacids can generally be separated from leafhoppers in the field by the relatively large antennae (compared to leafhoppers) that are viable on the sides of the head when looking from above. (Under a microscope, it can also be seen that leafhoppers have rows of spines and no spur on the femur of the hind leg.) Most delphacids feed on herbaceous monocots (grasses, sedges, rushes) in wet situations. A few are found in upland grasses. Two genera (Stobaera and Pissonotus) feed on composites. One species (Javesella opaca) has recently been found on the moss Polytrichum commune.

5. Derbidae
Dorsal view of Anotia westwoodi (Derbidae) (scale = 0.5mm).

Anotia robertsonii (Derbidae); photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center


Otiocerus wolfii (Derbidae; this individual appears to be teneral); photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

Like achilids, derbids are fungus feeders as immatures, and the nymphs are rarely observed.  Many derbids are small, very fragile, and often bizarre appearing planthoppers with a narrow face, large antennae, and their wings much exceeding their body (sometimes held at angles from the body).  However, the most commonly collected genus (Cedusa spp.) is a much less unusual appearing – wings deep grey and held tent-like, extending only a little beyond the abdomen.  The key features of derbids are that the terminal segment of the beak is very short relative to the penultimate and there is often some modification of or near the antennae – either an antennal projection, or a subtending “shelf” formed either by the antennae or the forward projecting lateral margin on the pronotum.
The most common and diverse genus of derbids (Cedusa) is often collected by seeping in herbaceous vegetation or at lights.  Many of the more unusual forms are infrequently collected and can not be reliably found using any method, although malaise traps sometimes get good results and I have occasionally seen large numbers come to baited (CO2 and/or light) CDC mosquito traps.
There are 14 genera and 67 species in the US.
6. Dictyopharidae

Scolops sulcipes Dictyopharidae photo by Dave Funk

Scolops sulcipes (Dictyopharidae); Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

Rhynchomitra microrhina dictyopharidae by Dave funk

Rhynchomitra microrhina (Dictyopharidae); ; Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

Dorsal view of Mitrops dioxys ( Dictyopharidae) (macropterous Dictyopharinae; scale = 1.0 mm). Dictyopharids are medium sized planthoppers and most dictyopharids can be recognized by having some sort of elongated head process.  There are 14 genera and 80 species in the US, with most species in the southwest in the highly specialized subfamily Orgeriinae.    There are relatively few species in the eastern United States, with most of them in the distinctive genus Scolops.  Dictyopharids are mostly associated with woody or semiwoody vegetation.

Photos of some additional Scolops species are here.

7. Flatidae
Dorsal view of Anormenis chloris (Flatidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).

Ormenoides venusta Flatidae by Dave Funk

Ormenoides venusta (Flatidae); Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

flatormenis chloris

Flatormenis chloris (Flatidae); Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

Metcalfa pruinosa (Flatidae); Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center

Flatids are a primarily tropical, and are best represented in the southwest United States. Flatids are mostly feeders on trees, shrubs and semi-woody perennials, particularly in open, sunny situations. Flatids are medium-sized planthoppers. Flatid nymphs produce abundant wax and are readily observed on plants.

Our common flatids and acanaloniids are easily confused. Generally acanaloniids are more hard-bodied, have an entirely reticulate venation, and are not waxy as adults. Flatids are not nearly as hard-bodies, have one (or more) veins running parallel to the wing margin setting off a row (or two rows) or marginal cells, and have waxy wings (there are always waxy pustules in the claval region of the wing). In the United States, flatids are represented by 15 genera and 35 species, but 2 genera and 4 species are only known from very old, dubious records.

Metcalfa pruinosa has been introduced into Europe.  A web page for the genus Metcalfa is here.

8. Fulgoridae

Dorsal view of Alphina glauca (Fulgoridae) (scale = 2.0 mm).

The Fulgoridae (the lanternflies) are medium to large planthoppers.  Most members of the family are tropical, and tropical forms can be large and colorful (the genus Fulgora can be up to 3 inches long, but ours are mostly in the range of ½ - 1 inch).  Generally, lanternflies feed on trees and shrubs, but some members of the genus Cyrpoptus have recently been found to be grass feeders (in the bases of some bunchgrasses).  The family Fulgoridae is represented in the United States by only 9 genera and 18 species (one of which may be a taxonomic error), with most of these confined to the southwest. 
9. Issidae

Dorsal view of Tylanira ustulata (Issidae) (formerly in Hysteropterum) (scale = 0.5 mm).


Issid planthoppers (excluding the Nogodinidae  and Caliscelidae) consist of only 2 genera and 10 species in the US, with most found in the southwest   The issidae in the strict sense are brown, medium sized insects, that hold their wings parallel to the body.  Issids are broadest near midlength, and tent to be somewhat egg-shaped in outline when viewed from above.  Issids are associated primarily with woody plants, for example Thionia bullata occurs on pines, Thionia ellipica on oaks, and Thionia simplex is polyphagous on dicots.  Thionia does not usually come to lights, and may be difficult to find by searching (but see Wheeler & Wilson 1987, 1988).
10. Caliscelidae
Dorsal view of Aphelonema rugosa (Caliscelidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).
The Caliscelidae are represented in the United States by 6 genera and 48 species.  The caliscelids were formerly included as a subfamily of  Issidae, but were given full subfamily status by Emeljanov (1999).  Caliscelids are very small, and usually brachypterous.  They are mostly recorded from grasses when hosts are known.  The genus Bruchomorpha is a small black planthopper that is quite weevil-like in appearance, most often collected by sweeping grasses.  The short wings make most collectors suspect specimens to be nymphs. The genus Fitchiella is represented only by the rare, but widespread species F.  robertsoni.  Members of this genus are very similar to Bruchomorpha except they have greatly expanded front tibiae. 
11. Nogodinidae
Dorsal view of Danepteryx lurida (Nogodinidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).

All of the North American Nogodinidae were formerly included with the Issidae, but were moved by Fennah (1984; later confirmed by Emelyanov 1999).  As currently defined, the Nogodinidae consist of 10 genera and 58 species, all of which have a western, especially southwestern, distribution in the US.  They are very similar to issids in general aspect, but the wings are frequently strongly reticulate, or partially clear, or both.  Nogodinids are mostly associated with woody plants, but some or on annual or semiperennial dicots.

12. Kinnaridae

Dorsal view of Oeclidius nanus (Kinnaridae) (scale = 0.5 mm).


The Kinnaridae of the United States consists of 1 genus (Oeclidius) with 6 species (revised by Ball 1934), all from the southwestern states (although there is at least one undescribed species, probably representing a new genus.  The Kinnaridae are similar to small Cixiidae in general appearance, and they share the row of spines on the second segment of the hind tarsus and may have a median ocellus near the frontoclypeal suture.  Unlike cixiids, females have a reduced ovipositor and abdominal tergites 7-9 are “chevron-shaped” wax-producing plates.  The nymphal habits and host biology of Kinnaridae are largely unknown.   Kinnarids of Central and South America are poorly known, but those of the Caribbean were revised by Ramos (1957).
 13. Tropiduchidae
Dorsal view of Kallitaxila sp. (introduced, Hawaii; Tropiduchidae) (scale = 0.5 mm).
Tropiduchids are mainly a tropical family with only 4 species in 4 genera in the southeastern US, 2 of which are doubtful records (reviewed by O’Brien 1992).  Pelitropis rotulata is the most common and distributed throughout the southeastern US.  It has been reported on 19 woody plants, including Myrica spp., and adults come to lights.    Tropiduchids frequently have a distinctive wing venation - the front wings are macropterous and have a series of crossveins between costal margin and apex of clavus setting off a differentiated apical reticulate area.