Genus Megamelanus Ball, 1902

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Family Delphacidae Leach, 1815

Subfamily Delphacinae Leach, 1815

Tribe Delphacini Leach, 1815

Genus Megamelanus Ball, 1902: 265.


Meglamelanus Muir, 1915 wrong spelling of Megamelanus Ball, 1902.

Type species (in original combination): Megamelanus bicolor Ball, 1902.


Western United States.

Distribution of Megamelanus from FLOW

Distribution of Megamelanus from FLOW (as of 3 March 2020)

Recognized species

The genus is monotypic as currently understood.

Megamelanus bicolor Ball, 1902 – USA: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming; CANADA: British Columbia.

Megamelanus rufivittatus Ball, 1905 – see Saccharosydne
(Megamelanus rufivittatus is a junior synonym of Saccharosydne saccharivora (Westwood, 1833), see Kennedy et al. 2012)

Plant associations

Megamelanus bicolor is a saltgrass specialist Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene (Wheeler and Bartlett 2015).  The biology of this species, insofar as known, is described in Wheeler and Wilson (2015).

In Nebraska, nymphs and adults were collected in late June and early July and from early to late September, indicating that M. bicolor is at least bivoltine (Wheeler and Bartlett 2015).

Economic Importance

Limited, although possibly associated with habitats of special concern (i.e., saline wetlands).


Unique among North American species. Uncommonly encountered.  Abridged diagnostic description from Wheeler and Bartlett 2015: 48

Megamelanus bicolor is easily recognized by color and form. Males are strongly bicolored (front contrasting with clypeus; abdomen contrasting with thorax and head); stramineous on dorsal portions of head, pro- and mesonotum, and brachypterous wings; brown (with irregular diffuse paler regions) on clypeus, pleural and ventral regions of thorax, and abdomen. Females are uniformly stramineus. Megamelanus bicolor is small (males 1.6-1.8 mm, females 2.4-2.5 mm, female macropter, including wings, 3.1 mm), slightly dorsoventrally compressed, with the head slightly but distinctly projected in front of eyes (the lateral carinae of frons and vertex removed from the eye at fastigium). The carinae of the head are distinct. The lateral margins of the frons are arched and widest in the lower portion of the eye, and the median carina is forked at the fastigium. The submedian carinae of the vertex are keeled, forming conspicuous “V” (with arms at posterior margin of head and base projecting at fastigium), giving the vertex a triangular appearance. The lateral carinae of the pronotum reach the posterior margin. The male pygofer in lateral view has a deep notch near the base of the parameres and small, median, serrulate projection near the ventral margin of the opening of the pygofer. The parameres are simple and flattened, with the inner angle projected dorsomedially and a row of fine serrulations on the dorsal lateral margin. The aedeagus is broad and flattened basally, with a large ventral projection in the basal fourth, then abruptly constricted to a narrow, downcurved blade bearing dorsal and right lateral rows of teeth. The suspensorium is conspicuous and “O” shaped, and segment 10 bears a pair of widely separated stout, tapering projections on the dorsolateral portion of the caudal margin.

Individuals are almost always brachypterous. I have not seen long-winged forms, although they probably exist.  I was recently sent a macropterous female, reported in Wheeler and Bartlett (2015), see photos below.

Megamelanus bicolor (Plate from Wheeler and Bartlett 2015)

Megamelanus bicolor

Megamelanus bicolor

Megamelanus bicolor

Megamelanus bicolor macropter

Megamelanus bicolor

Megamelanus bicolor macropter

mcdermott bicolor tail from McDermott 1952

Megamelanus bicolor pygofer from McDermott 1952

Megamelanus bicolor from McDermott 1952

Megamelanus bicolor from McDermott 1952

Online resources

Discover Life.

Molecular resources



Ball, E. D. 1902d. New Genera and Species of North American Fulgoridae. Canadian Entomologist 34: 259-266. (see p. 265).

Ball, E. D. 1905a. Some new Homoptera from the south and southwest. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 18: 117-120.

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.

Crawford, D. L. 1914a. A contribution toward a monograph of the homopterous insects of the family Delphacidae of North and South America. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 46:557-640, plus 6 plates. (see p. 592).

Kennedy, A. C., C. R. Bartlett and S. W. Wilson. 2012. An annotated checklist of the delphacid planthoppers (Hemiptera: Delphacidae) of Florida with the description of three new species and the new genus, Meristopsis. Florida Entomologist 95(2): 395-421.

Leach, W. E. 1815a. Entomology. The Edinburg encyclopedia; conducted by David Brewster 9: 57-172. (family Delphacidae here).

McDermott, B. T. 1952. A revision of the genus Megamelanus and its allies (Homoptera, Fulgoroidea, Delphacidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 25: 41-49.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1943. General Catalogue of the Hemiptera. Fascicle IV, Fulgoroidea, Part 3, Araeopidae (Delphacidae). Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts.  (see p. 278).

Muir, F. A. G. 1915. A contribution towards the taxonomy of the Delphacidae. Canadian Entomologist 47: 208-212.

Rey, J. R. and E. D. McCoy. 1982. Terrestrial arthropods of northwest Florida salt marshes: Hemiptera and Homoptera (Insecta). Florida Entomologist 65: 241–248.

Rey, J. R. and E. D. McCoy. 1997. Terrestrial arthropods. pp. 175–208. In: C. L. Coultas and Y.-P. Hsieh (eds.). Ecology and Management of Tidal Marshes: a Model from the Gulf of Mexico. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL. 355 pp.

Van Duzee, E. P. 1917b. Catalogue of the Hemiptera of America North of Mexico (excepting the Aphididae, Coccidae and Aleurodidae). University of California Publications, Technical Bulletins, vol. 2. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. i-xiv, 1-902. [from Google books] (see p. 764).

Wheeler, A.G., Jr. and C.R. Bartlett. 2015. Megamelanus bicolor Ball (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Delphacidae): a specialist planthopper on saltgrass (Distichlis spicata; Poaceae) in Nebraska’s alkaline and saline wetlands. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 117(1): 45-54.

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