North American Tropiduchidae

Overview of the planthopper family Tropiduchidae

Pelitropis rotulata Tropiduchidae

Pelitropis rotulata (Tangiini) from North Carolina (photo by Kimberley Shropshire, University of Delaware, Department of Entomology)

The Tropiduchidae Stål, 1866 are an advanced planthopper family consisting of 178 genera and 637 species (Bourgoin 2015 [as of 28 July 2015]). Tribes of Tropiduchidae were revised by Fennah (1982), and these were implicitly placed in the subfamilies of Metcalf (1954). Recent investigation of the relationships and composition of higher planthoppers has resulted in the transfer of taxa into Tropiduchidae, including Gaetuliina (from Nogodinidae, Bladinini; originally in Issidae) and Trienopinae (transferred from Acanaloniidae, originally in Issidae) (Gnezdilov 2007). Gnezdilov (2013) has revised the higher classification of Tropiduchidae (some of his changes still need to be implemented here). Gnezdilov (2013) placed all the traditional Tropiduchidae (including the Tangiini Melichar, 1914f and Remosini Fennah, 1982 that occur in the US) into the subfamily Tropiduchinae (with 17 extant and 2 extinct tribes), with non-traditional tropiduchids in the Elicinae Melichar, 1915b (with 2 extant and 2 extinct tribes), including the Gaetuliina as a synonym of Elicini, and the Parathisciini Gnezdilov, 2013 which include most of theAfrican taxa formerly included in the Acanaloniidae. 

Similar to other advanced families of planthoppers, Tropiduchidae have the teeth on the second tarsomere of the hind leg reduced to a lateral pair. Tangiini and Remosini (Tropiduchinae) tend to be flattened with a distinct nodal line on the wing, with the venation reticulate distad of the nodal line. Some Tropiduchidae superficially resemble dictyopharids, but are readily separated by the distinct nodal line and the lack of intermediate carinae on the frons. The Elicinae (Elicini, formerly treated as Gaetuliini) are similar to Issidae, and both have 1-4 lateral spines (usually 2-3, but 1 in Osbornia cornuta and some Dictyssa, and 4 in Danepteryx and Misodema) on the hind tibiae and wings (usually) covering the abdomen. They can be separated by having reticulate venation (shared with the issids Paralixes and Traxus) with some cells membranous.

North American Tropiduchidae as traditionally defined (i.e., the Tropiduchinae, tribes Tangiini and Remosini among U.S. taxa) were reviewed by O’Brien (1992) and are represented in the United States by 2 species in 2 genera (Pelitropis rotulata and Tangia breviceps) from the southeast, with two other species (Monopsis tabida and Neurotmeta sponsa) reported but unverified by specimens (O’Brien 1992). Spinola (1839: 302-304) described Monopsis tabida from “Des États-Unis de l’Am.-Sept.”, subsequently (Uhler 1884, Swezey 1904, Van Duzee 1908) annotated as Florida, but this species was not confirmed from the United States (O’Brien 1992). Neurotmeta sponsa was reported from southern Florida by Uhler (1884) (described from Cuba) but also was not confirmed from the U.S. (O’Brien 1992).   All 4 of these genera have additional species in the Neotropics.

The North American Elicini (i.e., Gaetuliini sensu Gnezdilov 2007) include 10 genera and 62 species north of Mexico, all of which are southwestern, with 8 genera and 55 species from California. Only 1 species in this tribe, Misodema dubia Caldwell, 1945, has not been reported north of Mexico. Elicini (as Gaetuliini) were moved from Issidae to Nogodinidae by Fennah (1984, as a subtribe of Bladinini), following his review of nogodinid higher classification (Fennah 1978). Emeljanov (1999) agreed with Fennah’s (1984) placement of the tribe; however, 'Gaetuliini' did not group with Nogodinidae in the molecular phylogeny of Urban and Cryan (2007). Subsequently they were were transferred to Tropiduchidae by Gnezdilov (2007) and synonymized with Elicini by Gnezdilov (2013).   Dictyssonia beameri was not treated by Fennah (1954), but appears to be Elicini and is treated as such here. Therefore, as currently defined, Tropiduchidae north of Mexico consist of 12 genera and 64 species. 

Tropiduchidae distribution in the US from Bartlett et al 2014

Distribution of Tropiduchidae north of Mexico (from Bartlett et al. 2014)

Gaetuliini was included within Doering’s revision of Issidae (Doering 1936, 1938, 1940, and 1941), which should be consulted for the identification of these species. O’Brien (1988) presented an updated version of Doering’s (1938) key that includes Gaetuliini, Issidae, Caliscelidae, and Euthiscia (Acanaloniidae).

The majority of tropiduchids are found on above-ground portions of woody dicots (Wilson et al. 1994). Wilson & Wheeler (1984) record Pelitropis rotulata from 19 woody host plants and described immatures. This species appeared to be univoltine in North Carolina. Tangia breviceps has been recorded from Cocoloba uvifera (O’Brien 1992) and Neurotmeta sponsa from guava and coffee (Metcalf & Bruner 1930, Fennah 1982). Life history has not been studied in detail for any Gaetuliini. They feed mostly on shrubs, particularly from the Asteraceae, Rosaceae, and Ericaceae (Wilson et al. 1994).

Synopsis of the Tropiduchidae (sensu Gnezdilov 2007) north of Mexico

Tropiduchinae Stål, 1866: 186
= Tambiniinae Kirkaldy, 1907

Remosini Fennah, 1982

Monopsis Spinola, 1839 (Type species Monopsis tabida Spinola, 1839).
Neurotmeta Guérin-Méneville, 1856 (Type species Fulgora sponsa Guérin-Méneville, 1856).
     = Tangia Stål, 1859 (Type species Monopsis viridis Walker, 1851); syn. by Van Duzee 1917b: 739; removed from syn. by Fennah 1965a: 100.

Tangiini Melichar, 1914
Pelitropis Van Duzee, 1908 (Type species Pelitropis rotulata Van Duzee, 1908).

Tangia Stål, 1859 (Type species Monopsis viridis Walker, 1851).

Elicinae Melichar 1915b

Elicini Melichar 1915b

= Gaetuliini Fennah, 1978 (sensu Gnezdilov 2007)
Danepteryx Uhler, 1889 (Type species Danepteryx manca Uhler, 1889).
     = Epidanepteryx Bliven 1966: syn. by O’Brien 1988: 867.
Dictyssonia Ball, 1936 (Type species Dictyssonia beameri Ball, 1936).
Dictyobia Uhler, 1889 (Type species Dictyobia permutata Uhler, 1889; jr. syn. of Hysteropterum semivitreum Provancher, 1889).
Dictyonia Uhler, 1889 (Type species Dictyonia obscura Uhler, 1889).
Dictyonissus Uhler, 1876 (Type species Dictyonissus griphus Uhler, 1876).
Dictyssa Melichar, 1906 (Type species Dictyssa areolata Melichar, 1906).
Dyctidea Uhler, 1889 (Type species Dyctidea angustata Uhler, 1889).
    = Dictydea Uhler, 1889: 37; missp. by Uhler 1889: 39; Van Duzee 1938: 33; Doering 1938: 449; 1939: 88; O’Brien 1986: 68; 1988a: 868.
Misodema Melichar, 1907 (Type species Misodema reticulata Melichar, 1906 as Rileya reticulata Melichar, 1906); replacement name for unavailable Rileya Melichar, 1906).
     = Rileya Melichar, 1906 (nec. Huene 1902).
Neaethus Stål, 1861b (Type species Hysteropterum vitripenne Stål, 1854).
    =Issovarcia Bliven, 1966; syn. by O’Brien 1988a: 867.
Osbornia Ball, 1910 (Type species Osbornia cornuta Ball, 1910).


Key to traditional U.S. Tropiduchidae (Tropiduchinae: Tangiini & Remosini, from O’Brien, 1992).

1. Median carina of frons absent; veins of forewings spotted with brown, lateral fields of pronotum narrower than medial fields.... Pelitropis rotulata Van Duzee
1.’ Median carina of frons present; veins of forewings not spotted with brown, lateral fields of pronotum about as wide as median fields .... 2

2. Vertex longer than broad .... 3
2.’ Vertex broader than long.... Tangia breviceps M&B

3. Forewings with M forking 1/3 from base (not verified in U.S.) .... Monopsis tabida Spinola
3.’ Forewings with M forking at level of or behind Cu fork (not verified in U.S.) .... Neurotmeta sponsa (Guérin-Méneville)

Neurotmeta sponsa (Tropiduchidae)Tangia breviceps (Tropiduchidae)Kallitaxila granulata (Tropiduchidae) from Hawaii

Tropiduchidae: Tangiini & Remosini. Neurotmeta viridis (top, Guana Island, BVI), Tangia breviceps (middle, Martin Co., Florida), and Kallitaxila granulata (bottom, Oahu, Hawaii) (photos by Kimberley Shropshire, Dept. Entomology, University of Delaware).


Key to non-traditional Tropiduchidae (Elicinae: Elicini) north of Mexico

1. Forewing short, leaving several abdominal segments exposed from above ... (in part) Osbornia Ball
1.’ Forewing reaching or exceeding end of abdomen .... 2

Osbornia cornuta Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeDanepteryx lurida Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeDyctidea variegata Gaetuliini Nogodinidae Tropiduchidae

Osbornia (left), Daneopteryx (middle), and Dyctidea (right)

2. Forewing strap-like, much longer than wide; ventral half of abdomen evident in lateral view .... 3
2.’ Forewing wider; abdomen hidden, or mostly hidden, by wing in lateral view .... 4

3. Vertex much wider than long, head not projecting; 1-3 lateral spines on hind tibiae ... Dyctidea Uhler
3.’ Vertex nearly as long as wide, head projecting anteriorly in lateral view; 4 lateral spines on hind tibiae ... Danepteryx Uhler

Dyctidea variegata Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeDanepteryx lurida Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeNeaethus sinehamatus Gaetuliini Nogodinidae Tropiduchidae

Dyctidea (left), Danepteryx (middle), and Neaethus (right)

4. Forewing nearly as wide as long and semicircular in shape, costal margin decidedly rounding; forewing partly opaque, usually with an oblique hyaline band across clavus and corium ... 5
4.’ Forewing more elongate, costal margin nearly straight, or if rounding, with a distinct bulla present at base of each wing .... 6

Dictyonia obscura  Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeDictyonissus griphus Gaetuliini Nogodinidae Tropiduchidae

Dictyonia (left) and Dictyonissus (right)

5. Forewing semicircular in shape, not closely appressed to body, veins of corium forming small irregular cells, some of which usually (not always) are vitreous or light colored ... Dictyssa Melichar
5.’ Forewing almost as broad as long, held almost vertically, cells of corium exceptionally few and large and distinctly angular .... Dictyonia Uhler

6. Vertex obtusely produced for distance nearly equal to width of eye ... 7
6.’ Vertex not obtusely produced, distance from eye to apex of head much less than width of eye ... 8

Dictyonissus griphus Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeDictyssonia beameri Gaetuliini Nogodinidae TropiduchidaeOsbornia arborea Gaetuliini Nogodinidae Tropiduchidae

Dictyonissus (left), Dictyssonia (middle) and Osbornia (right)

7. Forewing opaque, with few setae, hind tibiae with 4 lateral spines ... Misodema Melichar
7.’ Forewing clear, hispid, hind tibiae with 3 lateral spines ... Dictyonissus Uhler

8. Posterior tibiae with 2-3 lateral spines; forewing with distinct bulla at outer angles of the corium ... Dictyssonia Ball
8.’ Posterior tibiae with 1-2 lateral spines; forewing without bulla ... 9

9. Head including eyes narrower than pronotum; forewing twice longer than wide, more reticulate in apical half ... (submacropters) Osbornia Ball
9.’ Head including eyes wider than pronotum; forewing wider, reticulate throughout ... 10

10. Forewing entirely clear, or nearly so; body pale ... Neaethus Stål
10.’ Forewing with extensive dark patches; body darker ... Dictyobia Uhler


Danepteryx lurida Gaetuliini TropiduchidaeDictyssa munroviana Gaetuliini TropiduchidaeMisodema reticulata Gaetuliini TropiduchidaeNeaethus sinehamatus Gaetuliini Tropiduchidae

Tropiduchidae (Gaetuliini); Danepteryx lurida (top, left), Dictyssa munroviana (top right), Misodema reticulata (bottom left), Neaethus sinehamatus (bottom right); photos by Kimberley Shropshire, Dept. Entomology, University of Delaware.

An undet. tropiduchid from the Zoologische Staatssammlung München.

undetermined Tropiduchidae Tropiduchinae

Michael F. Schönitzer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 (, GFDL ( or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Selected Refereces

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. 2015. FLOW (Fulgoromorpha Lists on The Web): a world knowledge base dedicated to Fulgoromorpha. Version 8, updated 2015-07-28. (accessed 28 July 2015).

Caldwell, J. S. 1945. Notes on Issidae from Mexico (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 38: 89-120.

Doering, K. C. 1936. A contribution to the taxonomy of the subfamily Issinae in America north of Mexico (Fulgoroidea: Homoptera. Part I. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 24(17): 421-467.

Doering. K. C. 1938. A contribution to the taxonomy of the subfamily Issinae in America north of Mexico (Fulgoroidea: Homoptera. Part II. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 25(20): 447-575.

Doering. K. C. 1939. A contribution to the taxonomy of the subfamily Issinae in America north of Mexico (Fulgoroidea: Homoptera. Part III. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 26(2): 83-167.

Doering, K. C. 1941. A contribution to the taxonomy of the subfamily Issinae in America north of Mexico (Fulgoroidea: Homoptera. Part IV. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 27(10):185-233.

Emeljanov, A. F. 1999. Notes on the delimination of families of the Issidae group with description of a new species of Caliscellidae belonging to a new genus and tribe (Homoptera, Fulgoroidea). Zoosystematica Rossica 8(1): 61-72.

Fennah, R. G. 1945. The Tropiduchidae of the Lesser Antilles (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 47(6): 137-167.

Fennah, R. G. 1945. Tropiduchidae and Kinnaridae from the Greater Antilles (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Psyche 52: 119-138.

Fennah, R. G. 1948. New pintaliine Cixiidae, Kinnaridae and Tropiduchidae from the Lesser Antilles (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 12(I): 417-437.

Fennah, R. G. 1949. New Tropiduchidae from Melanasia (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 12(2): 161-173.

Fennah, R. G. 1965. A new genus and species of Tropiduchidae (Homoptera, Fulgoroidea) from Somolia. Annales Entomologici Fennici 31: 109-111.

Fennah, R. G. 1970. The Tropiduchidae collected by the Noona Dan expedition in the Philippines and Bismarck Archipelago (Insecta, Homoptera, Fulgoroidea. Steenstrupia Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen 1: 61-82.

Fennah, R. G. 1982a. A tribal classification of the Tropiduchidae (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea), with description of a new species on tea in Malaysia. Bulletin of Entomological Research 72(4): 631-643.

Fennah, R. G. 1982b. A new species of Alcestis (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea: Tropiduchidae) attacking cacao in Brazil. Bulletin of Entomological Research 72(1): 129-131.

Gnezdilov, V. M. 2007. On the systematic positions of the Bladinini Kirkaldy, Tonginae Kirkaldy, and Trienopinae Fennah (Homoptera, Fulgoroidea). Zoosystematica Rossica 15(2): 293–297.


Gnezdilov, V.  M. 2013. Contribution to the taxonomy of the family Tropiduchidae Stål (Hemiptera, Fulgoroidea) with description of two new tribes from Afrotropical Region. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 60(2): 179-191.

Melichar. L. 1914f. Monographie der Tropiduchinen (Homoptera). Verhandlungen des Naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn 1914: 1-145.

Melichar, L. 1915b. Monographie der Lophopinen. Annales historico-naturales musei nationalis Hungarici 13: 337-385.

Melichar, L. 1915d. Monographie der Tropiduchinen (Homoptera). Verhandlungen des Naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn 53: 82-226.[reprint of Melichar 1914f]

Metcalf, Z. P. 1954. General Catalogue of the Hemiptera. Fascicle IV, Fulgoroidea, Part 11 Tropiduchidae. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Metcalf, Z. P. and S. C. Bruner. 1930.a. Cuban Fulgorina. 1. The families Tropiduchidae and Acanaloniidae. Psyche 37:395-424.

O'Brien, L. B. 1988. Taxonomic changes in North American Issidae (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 81(6): 865-869.

O'Brien, L. B. 1992. The Tropiduchidae of the United States (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 85(2): 121-126.

Shcherbakov, D. E. 2006. The earliest find of Tropiduchidae (Homoptera: Auchenorrhyncha), representing a new tribe, from the Eocene of Green River, USA, with notes on the fossil record of higher Fulgoroidea. Russian Entomological Journal 15: 315–322.

Spinola, M. 1839. Essai sur les Fulgorelles, sous-tribu de la tribu des Cicadaires, ordre des Rhyngotes. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 8: 133-337, 339-454.

Stål, C. 1866a. Hemiptera Homoptera Latr. Hemiptera Africana 4: 1-276.

Stroinski, A., and V.M. Gnezdilov. 2009. Redescription of Busas dissolutus Jacobi, 1909, with notes on taxonomic position of the genus (Hemiptera: Fulgoromorpha: Tropiduchidae). Annales Zoologici 59: 459-464.

Swezey, O.H. 1904. A preliminary catalogue of the described species of the family Fulgoridae of North America, north of Mexico. Bulletin of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Nursery and Orchard Inspection. 3:1-48

Szwedo, J. and A. Stroiński. 2010. Austrini - a new tribe of Tropiduchidae planthoppers from the Eocene Baltic amber (Hemiptera: Fulgoromorpha). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 46(1-2): 132-137.

Uhler, P. R. 1884. Order VI. - Hemiptera. Standard natural history 2: 204-296.

Urban J. M. and J. R. Cryan. 2007. Evolution of the planthoppers (Insecta: Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 42(2): 556-572.

Van Duzee, E. P. 1908. Studies in North American Fulgoridae. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1907: 467-498.

Wilson, S. W. and A. G. Wheeler jr. 1984. Pelitropis rotulata (Homoptera: Tropiduchidae): host plants and descriptions of nymphs. Florida Entomologist 67(1): 164-168.

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

Yang, P. J., A. Alyokhin and R. Messing. 2002. Patterns of oviposition and parasitism of eggs of Kallitaxila granulata (Homoptera: Tropiduchidae), a newly invasive planthopper in Hawaii. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 35: 77-83.

Yeh, W. B., C. T. Yang and C. F. Hui. 1998. Phylogenetic relationships of the Tropiduchidae-group (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea) of planthoppers inferred through nucleotide sequences. Zoological Studies 37(1): 45-55.