North American Derbidae

Overview of the planthopper family Derbidae


Derbidae Derbinae Derbini (possibly Mysidia) from Peru

A derbid in the Derbini (possibly Mysidia) from Madre de Dios region of Peru.  Photo by Dave Funk of Stroud Water Research Center, Avondale, PA.


Derbidae consist of 157 genera and 1,700 species currently known (Bourgoin 2012), making them the third most species-rich family of planthoppers (after Cixiidae and Delphacidae).  Derbidae is represented north of Mexico by 14 genera and 70 species.  All genera of Derbidae north of Mexico, except Apache, have additional species found in the Neotropics. Like most other planthopper taxa, Derbidae tend to have the highest species richness in the tropics, although tropical forms are very poorly studied. The higher taxonomy of Derbidae was revised by Fennah (1952), and more recently by Emeljanov (1996). Their family composition has seldom been questioned.

Derbidae is most diverse in the east, particularly the southeast with 13 genera and 55 species, but this family is irregularly reported in the literature and records are conspicuously sparse in some states.

Distribution of Derbidae in the US from Bartlett et al. 2014

Distribution of Derbidae in the US (Figure from Bartlett et al. 2014)

Many derbids are very unusual appearing insects and are easily recognized to family and beyond. In contrast, Cenchreini and Cedusinae are much less unusual appearing, and can be very challenging to identify beyond genus. Derbids generally can be recognized by having the row of spines on the second hind tarsal segment and having the apical segment of the beak short. The head is compressed - slightly or greatly - with the median carina obsolete, and male parameres elongate (projecting beyond the anal segment). Derbinae and Otiocerinae are very unusual appearing with greatly compressed heads and wings much longer than, and usually held parallel to, the body. Some (viz. Paramysidia and Dysimia) hold their wings outstretched in a moth-like pose (like the top photo on this page). Cenchreini and Cedusinae have their heads less compressed and wings shorter (although still exceeding the abdomen).

Beak of Anotia westwoodi (Derbidae, Otiocerinae)Omolicna texana paratype (Derbidae)

Head of Anotia weswoodi showing short terminal beak segment (left) and face of Omolicna texana (right)

O’Brien (1982) revised Fennah’s (1952) key to Cedusini (as Cenchreini) to include New World genera only, and provided a checklist of New World species of this tribe excluding Cedusa. Mysidiini were revised by Broomfield (1985), but this group includes only 2 species north of Mexico and Emeljanov (1996) considered Mysidiini as part of Derbini. The large genus Cedusa was revised by Flynn & Kramer (1983) and Kramer (1986). Species of Cedusa are very similar externally and require examination of male genitalia for identification. Omolicna consists of 19 mostly Neotropical species, which are very similar externally and also require examination of male genitalia. Caldwell (1944) considered Omolicna of Mexico (as Phaciocephalus), but species north of Mexico have not been treated consistently among authors. The species and geographic limits of U.S. Omolicna need review. Aside from Cedusa and Omolicna, many eastern species can be identified using Metcalf (1923) or Bartlett et al. (2011).  Recently, a new species of Omolicna was described from Florida as a possible vector of Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, caused by a phytoplasma (Wilson et al. 2014), and a key to most U.S. species of Omolicna was included.

Immature derbids are fungus feeders and have been reared from logs (Willis 1982, Wheeler & Wilson 1996) and decaying organic debris (Howard et al. 2001). Adults are sometimes found in logs or are associated with monocots, presumably near their larval habitat (Wilson et al. 1994, Howard et al. 2001). Adults of most species have been reported on only a single host (Wilson et al. 1994), but the significance of adult host affinities is not clear. Adults often gather under broad leaves, presumably a behavior to protect their fragile wings. There are no well documented pests, but 20 species have been recorded as potentially injurious to economic plants (Wilson & O’Brien 1987). Cedusa has been documented as carrying phytoplasmas (Brown et al. 2006), and (as noted above), Omolicna is a suspected vector of the phytoplasma causing Texas Phoenix Palm Decline.

The genera of derbids found north of Mexico are as follows (a key to genus will be presented in a later update):

Family Derbidae
Cedusinae Emeljanov, 1992
Cedusini Emeljanov, 1992
   = Cenchreini Muir 1917 sensu Fennah 1952, Broomfield 1985 in part; status by Emeljanov 1996.
Cedusa Fowler, 1904 (Type species Cedusa funesta Fowler, 1904)

Derbinae Spinola, 1839
Derbini Spinola, 1839
    = Mysidiini Broomfield, 1985; syn. by Emeljanov 1996: 74.

Dysimia Muir, 1924 (Type species Dysimia maculata Muir 1924).

Paramysidia Broomfield, 1985 (Type species Mysidia mississippiensis Dozier, 1922).

Cenchreini Muir, 1917
Neocenchrea Metcalf, 1923 (Type species Cenchrea heidemanni Ball, 1902b).

Omolicna Fennah, 1945a (Type species Omolicna proxima Fennah, 1945).
Persis Stål, 1862c (Type species Persis pugnax Stål, 1862c)

Otiocerinae Muir, 1917
Otiocerini Muir, 1917
Anotia Kirby, 1821 (Type species Anotia bonnetii Kirby, 1821)
   = Amalopota Van Duzee, 1889 (Type species Amalopota uhleri Van Duzee 1889); syn. by Fennah 1952: 152.

Apache Kirkaldy, 1901a (Type species Hynnis rosea Burmeister 1835, jr. syn. of Otiocerus degeerii Kirby 1821).
Otiocerus Kirby, 1821 (Type species Otiocerus stollii Kirby 1821).
Sayiana Ball, 1928 (Type species Anotia sayi Ball, 1902b).
Shellenius Ball, 1928 (Type species Otiocerus ballii McAtee 1923).

Patarini Emeljanov, 1996
Patara Westwood, 1840 (Type species Patara gutata Westwood, 1840) .

Sikaianini Muir, 1917
Mula Ball, 1928 (Type species Mula resonans Ball, 1928).

Sikaiana Distant, 1907b (Type species Sikaiana hyalinata Distant, 1907b)


Derbidae Derbinae Derbini (possibly Mysidia) from Costa rica

Another derbid in the Derbini, this one from from Villas Gaia in Costa Rica.  Photo by Brian Cutting (University of Delaware).


Select References

Bartlett, C. R., E. R. Adams and A. T. Gonzon jr. 2011. Planthoppers of Delaware (Hemiptera, Fulgoroidea), excluding Delphacidae, with species incidence from adjacent States. ZooKeys 83: 1-42.

Bartlett, C. R., L. B. O’Brien and S. W. Wilson. 2014. A review of the planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) of the United States. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 50: 1-287.

Bourgoin, T. 2012. FLOW (Fulgoromorpha Lists on The Web): a world knowledge base dedicated to Fulgoromorpha. Version 8, updated June 5, 2012. (accessed June 5, 2012).

Broomfield, P. S. 1985. Taxonomy of Neotropical Derbidae in the new tribe Mysidiini (Homoptera). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 50(1): 1-152.

Brown, S. E., B. O. Been and W. A. McLaughlin. 2006. Detection and variability of the lethal yellowing group (16Sr IV) phytoplasmas in the Cedusa sp. (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Derbidae) in Jamaica. Annals of Applied Biology 149: 53-62.

Caldwell, J. S. 1944. The tribe Cenchreini with special references to the Cenchrea complex (Homoptera: Derbidae). Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 39: 99-110.

Emeljanov, A. F. 1996. On the system and phylogeny of the family Derbidae (Homoptera, Cicadina). Entomological Review 75(2): 70-100.

Fennah, R. G. 1952. On the generic classification of Derbidae (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea) with descriptions of new Neotropical species. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 103(4): 109-170.

Flynn, J. E. and J.P. Kramer. 1983. Taxonomic study of the planthopper genus Cedusa in the Americas (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Entomography 2:121-260.

Howard, F. W., T. J. Weissling and L. B. O'Brien. 2001. The larval habitat of Cedusa inflata (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Derbidae) and its relationship with adult distribution on palms. Florida Entomologist 84: 119-122.

Kramer, J. P. 1986. Supplement to a taxonomic study of the planthopper genus Cedusa in the Americas (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea: Derbidae). Entomography 4: 245-314.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1923. A key to the Fulgoridae of eastern North America with descriptions of new species. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 38(3): 139-230, plus 32 plates. [available from]

O’Brien, L. B. 1982. Two Neotropical derbid genera with observations on wing rolling (Fulgoroidea: Homoptera). Florida Entomologist 65: 306-321.

Wheeler, A. G., Jr. and S. W. Wilson. 1996. Planthoppers of pitch pine and scrub oak in pine barrens communities (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 98: 100-108.

Willis, H. L. 1982. Collection of Euklastus harti in Wisconsin. Entomological News 93: 51-53.

Wilson, S. W., S. Halbert and B. Bextine. 2014. Potential planthopper vectors of palm phytoplasma in Florida with description of a new species of the genus Omolicna (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea). Florida Entomologist 97(1): 90-97.

Wilson, S. W., C. Mitter, R. F. Denno and M. R. Wilson.1994. Evolutionary patterns of host plant use by delphacid planthoppers and their relatives. In: R. F. Denno and T. J. Perfect, (eds.). Planthoppers: Their Ecology and Management. Chapman and Hall, New York. Pp. 7-45 & Appendix

Wilson, S.W. and L. B. O'Brien. 1987. A survey of planthopper pests of economically important plants (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Pp. 343-360.  In: M.R. Wilson and L.R. Nault,(eds.). Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Leafhoppers and Planthoppers of Economic Importance : Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA, 28th July-1st August 1986. CAB International Institute of Entomology.