Hoppers of North Carolina:
Spittlebugs, Leafhoppers, Treehoppers, and Planthoppers
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CICADELLIDAE Members: NC Records

Xestocephalus similis - No Common Name

© Kyle Kittelberger- note pale base of middle
wing tip cell

© Kyle Kittelberger- top view

© Kyle Kittelberger- side view, note wing pattern
Family: CICADELLIDAESubfamily: Aphrodinae
Online Photographs: BugGuide                                                                                  
Description: A fairly small brownish leafhopper with patterns similar to other members of this genus. However, there is a distinct clear or pale spot at the base of the middle wing tip cell; the part of the cell near the tip is dark while the base of the cell (pointing towards the head) is clear. This cell pattern is characteristic of this species. In addition, the dark color of the wing tip cells fades to white towards the outer edges of these cells (BG). The head and pronotum are also typically a brownish color, lacking much of the pattern that other species like X. superbus have.
Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Distribution: A widespread species, recorded in the eastern U.S. and the Midwest (BG).
Abundance: Recent records from the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, probably more abundant in the right habitat.
Seasonal Occurrence
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Has been found so far in grassy areas with mixed hardwood forest edge near pine forest.
Plant Associates:
Behavior: Can be attracted at night with a light.
Comment: An "ant guest", it lives as an immature in the tunnels of ant nests where it feeds on the roots of plants. Adults fly around a lot, looking for other ant nests (BG).

Under the latest revision of the genus by Cwikla 1985, many species were synonymized under X. desertorum. While the following species appear to be visually distinctive, there are no differences in the male or female genitalia from desertorum, hence being synonymized. This move has not been carried out here as it seems necessary for further studies done to determine the validity of species within this genus. For now, species here will be differentiated based on visual characteristics. It is important to note though that these 'species' may not be valid, and visual characteristics that have been used to differentiate may not in fact hold up due to variation between forms and/or species. Furthermore, somes records may represent similiar species that are not yet on this site; obviously there is much to learn and revise regarding this genus.

The species synonymized under desertorum that could occur in our area are as follows:

- brunneus

- nigrifrons (some of the dark specimens here under superbus may represent nigrifrons)

- pulicarius

- piceus

- provancheri

- similis

- superbus

Furthermore, there is an apparent undescribed species that looks similar to X. superbus, but has a differently marked and colored frons, head and pronotum. Recent DNA barcoding revealed specimens of this 'species' cluster separately from everything else.

- n-species

Status: Native
Global and State Rank:

Species Photo Gallery for Xestocephalus similis No Common Name

Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Warren Co.
Comment: open grassy area within mixed hardwood forest habitat
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn
Washington Co.
Comment: open forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf, Patrick Coin
Halifax Co.
Comment: grassy area and mixed hardwood forest edge near pine forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf, Patrick Coin
Halifax Co.
Comment: grassy area and mixed hardwood forest edge near pine forest