Genus Fitchiella Van Duzee, 1917

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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

Distribution of Fitchiella from FLOW (as of 20 Aug 2021)

Recognized species

There are 10 recognized species [Genus: Metcalf 1958: 42]

Fitchiella albifrons Lawson, 1933: 194 – USA: AZ, TX
Fitchiella brachyrhina De Freitas, Dietrich & Takiya, 2020: 43 (here) – Mexico (Zacatecas)
Fitchiella fitchii (Melichar, 1906) – USA: CO, KS
= Naso fitchii Melichar, 1906: 19, original combination
= Fitchiella fitchii (Melichar, 1906), comb. by Van Duzee (1917: 741)
Fitchiella grandis Lawson, 1933: 197 – USA: AZ
Fitchiella mediana Lawson, 1933: 196 – USA: AZ, CA
Fitchiella melichari (Ball, 1910) – USA: AZ
= Naso melichari  Ball 1910: 42, original description
= Fitchiella melichari  (Ball, 1910), comb. by Van Duzee (1917: 741)
Fitchiella minor Lawson, 1933: 197 – USA: AZ
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
= Naso robertsonii Fitch, 1856: 396. original description
= Fitchiella robertsonii (Fitch, 1856), comb. by Van Duzee (1917: 741)
Fitchiella rufipes Lawson, 1933: 195 – USA: AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT; Mexico (Chihuahua)
Fitchiella zahniseri De Freitas, Dietrich & Takiya, 2020: 46  (here)- Panama

Economic Importance:

Limited. Fitchiella robertsoni has been considered for state or federal listing as a threatened species resulting from habitat loss (see Bess 2005).

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 [see bugguide] … albifrons Lawson
3- Front entirely dark … 4

4 Venter of head process and most of the 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 melichari

Fitchiella cf melichari (Salvador Vitanza, Cochise County, Arizona) [see Bugguide]

Fitchiella robertsoni

Fitchiella robertsoni

Fitchiella rufipes

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

Fitchiella mediana

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

Fitchiella grandis

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

Fitchiella robertsoni

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

Fitchiella brachyrhina

Fitchiella brachyrhina from de Freitas et al 2021

Fitchiella zahniseri

Fitchiella zahniseri from de Freitas et al. 2021

Fitchiella from Lawson 1933

Fitchiella from Lawson 1933


Most often taken sweeping.

Molecular resources: 

As of this writing, Genbank has 4 genes for Fitchiella rufipes and one (COI barcode) for F. robertsonii; Barcode of Life has data for 3 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.

de Freitas, A. S., C.H. Dietrich, and D. M. Takiya. 2020. Five new species of Caliscelidae (Insecta, Hemiptera) from Mexico and Panama, with additional redescriptions of little-known species. European Journal of Taxonomy 717: 27-69.

de Freitas, A. S. 2019. Revisão taxonômica e filogenia dos Caliscelidae da região Neotropical (Insecta: Hemiptera). M.S. dissertação, programa de pós-graduação em biodiversidade e biologia evolutiva, universidade federal do rio de janeiro. Universidade Federal Do Rio de Janeiro Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade E Biologia Evolutiva. Xvii+ 363 Pp.

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.

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