Planthoppers

(Superfamily Fulgoroidea [= suborder Fulgoromorpha])

photo of a planthopper Images

Selected Links

Selected References

Planthoppers form the large, diverse superfamily Fulgoroidea, with 12,000 described species placed among 20 families: Acanaloniidae, Achilidae, Caliscelidae, Cixiidae (including Achilixiidae), Delphacidae, Derbidae, Dictyopharidae, Eurybrachidae, Flatidae, Fulgoridae, Gengidae, Hypochthonellidae, Issidae, Kinnaridae, Lophopidae, Meenoplidae, Nogodinidae, Ricaniidae, Tettigometridae, and Tropiduchidae. The more species rich families include Delphacidae, Derbidae, Cixiidae, Flatidae, and Fulgoridae. Members of the family Fulgoridae are sometimes called lanternflies because of the enlarged heads of some were, at one time, said to be luminescent.

Distribution

Although planthoppers occur worldwide, the Afro- and Neotropical regions are especially rich in numbers of species. Still, some Alaskan species live north of the Arctic Circle. Some planthopper families are widespread, but Eurybrachidae and Meenoplidae are restricted to the Old World, and Tettigometridae occur only in the Afrotropical and Palearctic regions. Gengidae and Hypothnonellidae are known only from one or two African species. Furthermore, several families (Achilidae, Eurybrachidae, Fulgoridae, Kinnaridae, and Nogodinidae) are unknown or poorly represented in the Palearctic region.

Morphology

Planthoppers differ from other Auchenorrhyncha in having: antennae that arise below (not between) the compound eyes; pedicel of antenna bulbous or enlarged, with sensory plate organs; scalelike tegulae on the mesothorax (except in tettigometrids and some short-winged dictyopharids); and forewings with the anal veins confluent apically (forming a "Y"). The largest planthopper species are at least 114 mm in length (72 mm excluding the wing tips) with a wingspan of 155 mm, but the smallest are less than 2 mm long. In some planthoppers, wing polymorphism is common, with long-winged (macropterous) flying forms, as well as short-winged (brachypterous) flightless forms frequently occurring in the same population. While many planthoppers are rather ordinary looking insects, some are brilliantly colored (some Fulgoridae) as well as outrageously shaped with huge, elongate heads (some Fulgoridae and Dictyopharidae) or bodies that are strongly flattened laterally or dorsoventrally (especially among Acanaloniidae and Flatidae). Some nymphs and adults produce wax secretions, often in the form of abdominal filaments.

Ecology and Behavior

Planthoppers generally have 1 to 3 generations per year; however, as many as 12 generations per year have been observed in tropical delphacids. Most adults feed on the phloem of vascular plants, but nymphs of some groups apparently feed on fungi, either under bark (some Derbidae and Achilidae) or in dead wood (some Achilidae). Nymphs of one species of Delphacidae develop on mosses. Although many planthoppers are highly host specific, feeding on a single host species or a restricted range of related host plants, others are quite polyphagous. Eggs are deposited singly or in groups, usually in or on the host, and may be protected by waxy secretions in some species. Nymphs of the families Cixiidae and Meenoplidae appear to be primarily subterranean and feed on roots. The families Delphacidae and Cixiidae include nearly 150 species recorded as pests. The more serious pests vector devastating plant diseases, and thus a migratory delphacid vector [the brown plant hopper: Nilaparvata lugens (Stål)] is the most important pest of rice in Asia.

Planthoppers prepared by L. L. Deitz, P. A. Alvarez, C. R. Bartlett, C. H. Dietrich, and L. B. O'Brien.
1 December 2008
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Images

Explore the remarkable morphological diversity among planthoppers through GigaPan images from the NCSU Insect Museum (includes Z. P. Metcalf's collection). Eighteen families are represented:

Acanaloniidae

Achilidae

Cixiidae (including Achilixiidae [column 1, box 1])

Delphacidae

Derbidae

Dictyopharidae

Eurybrachidae

Flatidae

Fulgoridae

Issidae

Kinnaridae (columns 2-4)

Lophopidae

Meenoplidae (column 1, boxes 4-5)

Nogodinidae

Ricaniidae

Tettigometridae

Tropiduchidae

Planthoppers: Selected Links

Compiled by P. A. Alvarez, L. L. Deitz, and D. R. Nimocks. 1 December 2008. Potentially useful sites may have been omitted because reviewers [Acknowledgments] noted significant misidentifications or other concerns.

FLOW, Fulgoromorpha Lists on the Web: authors, species, type depositories, biogeographic areas. [T. Bourgoin]. In English, French and Spanish.

Delphacid Planthoppers of North America. 

North American Fulgoroidea Database Search. 

Classification of the North American Fulgoroidea.

Erythroneurini and Delphacidae Database Search.

Australian Faunal Directory: references on Fulgoroidea.

Lyon Museum, France: holdings of fulgorid species. In French.

Lanternfly Tree of Life.

Selected References on Planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea): 1956-2014

Prepared by L. L. Deitz, P. A. Alvarez, and K. Rochon. 1 December 2008 (updated 24 June 2014).

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Bourgoin, T. 1993a. Female genitalia in Hemiptera Fulgoromorpha, morphological and phylogenetic data. Ann. Soc. Entomol. France (n.s.) 29(3): 225-244.

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Fennah, R. G. 1978a. Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) of Viet-nam. Ann. Zool. (Warszawa) 34(9): [207]-279.

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Fennah, R. G. 1984a. Revisionary notes on the classification of the Nogodinidae (Homoptera, Fulgoroidea), with descriptions of a new genus and a new species. Entomol. Mon. Mag. 120(1436-1439): 81-86.

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Gnezdilov, V. M.; O'Brien, L. B. 2008b. New taxa and combinations in Neotropical Issidae (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea). Insecta Mundi 31: 1‑26.

Gnezdilov, V. M.; Holzinger, W. E.; Wilson, M. R. 2014a. The western Palaearctic Issidae (Hemiptera, Fulgoroidea): an illustrated checklist and key to genera and subgenera. Proc. Zool. Inst. RAS 318(supplement 1): [1]-118. [available online]

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