Genus Fitchiella Van Duzee, 1917

[Back to Planthoppers of North America]
[Back to North American Caliscelidae]

Family Caliscelidae Amyot and Serville, 1843

Subfamily Caliscelinae Amyot and Serville, 1843

Tribe Peltonotellini Emeljanov, 2008

Genus Fitchiella Van Duzee, 1917

Type species: Naso robertsoni Fitch, 1856

  •   Naso Fitch, 1856 (nec. Lacépède, 1801) (Type species Naso robertsoni Fitch, 1856), preoccupied name replaced by Fitchiella Van Duzee, 1917 in Van Duzee, 1917: 740.

Mostly southwestern and central U.S. (uncommon elsewhere).

Distribution of Fitchiella from FLOW

Distribution of Fitchiella from FLOW (17 Dec 2019)

Recognized species

There are 8 recognized species [Genus: Metcalf 1958: 42]

  1. Fitchiella albifrons Lawson, 1933 – USA: AZ, TX
  2. Fitchiella fitchii (Melichar, 1906) – USA: CO, KS
  3. Fitchiella grandis Lawson, 1933 – USA: AZ
  4. Fitchiella mediana Lawson, 1933 – USA: AZ, CA
  5. Fitchiella melichari (Ball, 1910) – USA: AZ
  6. Fitchiella minor Lawson, 1933 – USA: AZ
  7. Fitchiella robertsoni (Fitch, 1856) (Fitch’s Elephanthopper, Robertson’s Flightless Planthopper ) – USA: AR, FL, IL?, IN, KS, MD, MO, MS, NE, NY, OH, OK, PA, TX; CAN: ON
  8. Fitchiella rufipes Lawson, 1933 – USA: AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT; Mexico (Chihuahua)
Economic Importance:


Plant associations:
  • Fitchiella rufipes – Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees; (Weeping lovegrass; Poaceae (from Wilson & Wheeler 2010); Xanthocephalum sp. (Asteraceae) from Foster et al. 1981.
  • Fitchiella robertsoniOrbexilum onobrychis; dry barrens on hilltops and upper slopes associated with Orbexilum pedunculatum, Desmodium spp., Lespedeza, Tephrosia virginiana

Hosts from Wilson & Wheeler 2010, Foster et al. 1981; plant names from USDA PLANTS.


Genus is distinctive, head with weevil-like snout (similar to Bruchomorpha); front and middle legs modified.  Species features more difficult – Doering (1941) provides key, but she did not have all species available to her; some taxa require comparison with known specimens or review of original descriptions.

Key to Species of Fitchiella (From Lawson 1933).

1 Head process knobbed at apex … 2
1- Head process not knobbed at apex … 3

2 Light species marked with black, females 4 mm. long; fore and middle tibiae slightly expanded … robertsoni Fitch.
2- Brownish species, females 5 mm. long; fore and middle tibiae greatly expanded … fitchii Melichar.

3 Front with longitudinal white stripe … albifrons Lawson
3- Front entirely dark … 4

4 Venter of head process and most of legs reddish … rufipes Lawson
4- Venter of head process black and legs (except in minor) usually entirely black … 5

5 Head process very large and quadrate apically … grandis Lawson
5- Head process smaller and rounded apically … 6

6 Head process quite short; fore tibiae reddish … minor Lawson
6- Head process longer ; fore tibiae usually dark … 7

7 Head process longer; fore tibiae very wide . . . .melichari Ball
7- Head process shorter; fore tibiae narrower . . .mediana Lawson

Fitchiella robertsoni

Fitchiella robertsoni

Fitchiella rufipes

Fitchiella rufipes (All photographs by Kimberley Shropshire, University of Delaware)

Fitchiella mediana on BOLD (CC BY-NC-SA CNC/BIO Photography Group 2012)

Fitchiella grandis on BOLD (CC BY-NC-SA CNC/BIO Photography Group 2012)

Fitchiella robertsoni on BOLD (CC BY-NC-SA CNC/BIO Photography Group 2012)

Fitchiella from Lawson 1933


Most often taken sweeping.

Molecular resources: 

As of this writing, Genbank has 4 genes for Fitchiella rufipes; Barcode of Life has data for 4 species.

Selected references:

Amyot, C. J. B. and J. G. A. Serville. 1843. Deuxième partie. Homoptères. Homoptera Latr. In Histoire naturelle des Insectes. Hémiptères. Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, Paris. P.: i-lxxvi, 1-676. Plate(s): 1-12. [See pp. 455-588 and pls. 9-12].

Ball, E. D. 1910. New genera and species of Issidae. (Fulgoridae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 23: 41-45.

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.

Bess, J. 2005. Conservation Assessment for Fitch’s Elephanthopper (Fitchiella robertsoni (Fitch)). Eastern Region of the Forest Service – Threatened and Endangered Species Program, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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

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

Fitch, A. 1856. Third report on noxious and other insects of the State of New York. Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society 16: 315-490.

Foster, D. E. , D. N. Ueckert and C. J. Deloach. 1981. Insects associated with broom snakeweed [Xanthocephalum sarothrae] and threadleaf snakeweed [Xanthocephalum microcephala] in west Texas and eastern New Mexico. Journal of Range Management 34(6): 446-454. [record of Fitchiella rufipes] DOI: 10.2307/3898096;

Henderson, R. 2011. Robertson’s Flightless Planthopper (Fitchiella robertsoni). Wisconsin DNR Species Status Assessment Worksheet. Madison, Wisconsin. 10 Pp.

Lawson, P. B. 1933. The genus Fitchiella (Homoptera, Fulgoridae). Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 28: 194-198.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1958. General Catalogue of the Homoptera. Fascicle IV, Fulgoroidea, Part 15, Issidae. Waverly Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.

Van Duzee, E. P. 1917. Catalogue of the Hemiptera of America North of Mexico excepting the Aphididae, Coccidae and Aleurodidae. Technical Bulletin. University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. Entomology. 2: 1-902.

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 A. G. Wheeler jr. 2010. Planthopper (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) diversity of weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula), an introduced host of little known, rarely collected native species. Entomologica Americana 116(3/4): 98–106.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email