Genus Tarophagus Zimmerman 1948

[Back to Higher classification of Delphacidae]

Family Delphacidae Leach, 1815

Subfamily Delphacinae Leach, 1815

Tribe Delphacini Leach, 1815

Genus Tarophagus Zimmerman 1948: 245.

Distribution: Asia and the Pacific; Now adventive to Cuba, Jamaica and Florida

Distribution of Tarophagus from FLOW (7 Nov. 2018)

Type species (in original combination): Megamelus proserpina Kirkaldy, 1907d: 147.

Recognized species

There are only three species in the genus.  The genus was revised by Asche and Wilson (1989) and records are often suspect before that time (often referred to T. proserpina when they were actually a different species).

Tarophagus colocasiae (Matsumura, 1932) – Apparently distributed over South-East Asia, from the Pacific north of the equator from Palau (=Belau) Island to Guam, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands to Hawaii (Asche and Wilson 1989); records from Indonesia (Java), Borneo, Philippine, Papua New Guinea, New Britain, Solomon Is., Indonesia (Sulawesi, Ambon), Thailand, Taiwan, Palau, Guam, Micronesia (Ponape, Yap, Truk), Marshall Is (Kili, Namorik), Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu Islands),  and Hawaii.  Now also Cuba, Jamaica and Florida (see the pest alert for Tarophagus), and Louisiana.
= Liburnia (Delphax) colocasiae Matsumura, 1932: 225. (in FLOW as Matsumura 1920, but can not confirm this, do not have access to the correct edition of this text)
= Delphacodes colocasiae (Matsumura, 1932); comb. by Metcalf, 1943: 420.
=  Tarophagus colocasiae (Matsumura, 1932); comb. by Asche & Wilson (1989: 288).
= Tarophagus proserpina taiwanensis Wilson, 1988 synonym by Asche & Wilson (1989: 288).

Tarophagus persephone (Kirkaldy, 1907) – Widespread in South-East Asia and Australia (Asche and Wilson 1989). records from Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland), Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Philippines, Solomon Is., New Britain, Malaysia and Indonesia (N. Moluccas (Ternate), Sulawesi.
= Megamelus persephone Kirkaldy, 1907: 148.
= Tarophagus proserpina taiwanensis Wilson & Tsai, 1988: 54; syn. by Asche and Wilson 1989: 288.
= Megamelus proserpinoides Muir, 1917;  synonym by Asche & Wilson (1989: 290).
= Tarophagus persephone (Kirkaldy, 1907); comb. by Asche & Wilson (1989: 290).
= Tarophagus proserpina australis Fennah, 1965: 37 synonym by Asche & Wilson (1989: 290).

Tarophagus proserpina (Kirkaldy, 1907) – Widespread in the Pacific south of the equator from north-eastern Papua [New Guinea in the west across the southern Pacific islands to Tahiti in the east (Asche and Wilson 1989 reported   Records from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Western Samoa (Savaii, Upolu), American Samoa (Tutuila), Society Is (Raiatea, Tahiti), New Caledonia, Cook Island and Niue (Savage Is).)]; also reported [possibly in error for other Tarophagus: Caroline Islands , Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands (South Solomons), Mariana islands, Vanuatu, Vietnam ]
= Megamelus proserpina Kirkaldy, 1907: 147.
= Tarophagus proserpina australis Fennah 1965: 37.
= Tarophagus proserpina (Kirkaldy, 1907); comb. by Zimmerman (1948)

Distribution map from Asche and Wilson 1989


The primary host (for all species) is Taro – Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

They also might feed on caladiums (Caladium) and malanga (Xanthosoma). In the Philippines, Duatin and de Pedro (1986) found that nymphs survived for 24 hours on Caladium bicolor (Aiton) Vent., Xanthosoma sp., Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. (sweet potato), Manihot esculenta Cranta (cassava), Chamaesyce hirta (L.) Millsp. (as Euphorbia hirta L.), Ipomoea aquatica Forssk., Monochoria vaginalis (Burm. f.) C. Presl ex Kunth, and Commelina benghalensis L. (Duatin and de Pedro 1986). (see the Pest Alert from Florida)

Host records are from Duatin and de Pedro 1986, Asche and Wilson 1989, Wilson et al. 1994, and pers. obs. of Halbert (for Xanthosoma)

Natural Enemies:

Cytorhinus fulvus Knight, an orthotyline mirid bug, is an important egg predator used for biological control of the taro planthopper (e.g., here), although success has been variable.

Tetrastichus megameli (Fullaway, 1940), a eulophid wasp is an egg parasite (Fullaway 1940).

Three dryinid wasps are reported from Tarophagus: Echthrodelphax fairchildii Perkins, Haplogonatopus apicalis Perkins and Haplogonatopus oratorius (Westwood) (Guglielmino and Olmi 1997, Guglielmino et al. 2013).

Additional natural enemies were reported by Duatin and de Pedro (1986) from the Philippines. These were a predaceous ant that dug into the oviposition sites and ate the eggs, a mite belonging to the family Trobidiidae, and a “minute gastropod,” which, based on their photo, might be a strepsipteran.

Economic Importance:

Taro planthoppers can cause damage and oviposition on the underside of leaves and stems or by transmission of pathogens. Planthoppers cause crusty exudates at the damage sites due to leaf wounding during feeding and oviposition. Excessive feeding causes plants to wilt and die (Carmichael et al. 2008).

Taro planthoppers may transmit several viral pathogens in taro . Colocasia Bobone disease virus (CBDV), known from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, causes severe stunting, and distorted leaves. Some plants recover, and others die from a condition known as alomae disease. The nature of alomae disease is not understood. It might be caused by a combination of viruses, but if so, the second virus is not known (Revill et al. 2005). Roguing, virus elimination from planting stock, and quarantine measures have helped to contain the problem (Carmichael et al. 2008). Another virus, taro feathery mottle virus, is reported from the Philippines (Palomar 1987). It was transmitted by taro planthoppers after feeding for 5 minutes (but not after feeding for 2 minutes). The nature and extent of vectored pathogens associated with taro planthoppers are not well understood.

A pest alert from Florida is here.  Also, here is one from Jamaica.

Images from the Florida pest alert.


Dark with pale middorsal markings, wings embrowned.  Most easily recognized by the ornamentation of the opening of the male pygofer which is distinctive for the genus and somewhat different for each species.  Often brachypterous on the host (often found on the underside of leaves).

Photos – except as noted – by Kimberley Shropshire (UDEL Dept of Entomology)

Tarophagus colocasiae (New Guinea)

Brachypter, East Timor; male pygofer New Guinea


This Delphacid is commonly intercepted by our cargo officers on Colocasia esculenta (wetland taro) in Honolulu; I adult and 2 views of the same immature. Photo credit: R. Ito, usda-aphis-ppq



Taro planthopper in Florida (Photograph

Tarophagus colocasiae, Florida July 2015 (Photos Susan Halbert)



Ornamentation of pygofer openings from Asche and Wilson 1989

Figures from Asche and Wilson 1989

Websites and resources: Tarophagus on …


Online resources

Tarophagus colocasiae (Matsumura) | Taro Planthopper
Discover Life.
Bugguide (N/A)
3I Interactive Keys and Taxonomic Databases (Dmitry Dmitriev)
Leafhopper, Planthopper & Psyllid vectors of Plant Disease
The taro/dasheen plant hopper (Tarophagus sp.) (Jamaica, the site looks iffy, found 2 versions of it)
Edible Aroides fact sheet (PDF)
Plantwise Knowlege Bank
Florida pest alert.

BOLD. (subfamily Delphacinae; genus not present)


Cuba  Identifica el Inivit nueva plaga que ataca a la malanga
Cuba Insects cause plague on Cuban Malanga crops (also here)

(there are more to be added)

Molecular resources:

To my surprise, this genus is not in Barcode of Life at this time (Sept 2017); GENBANK has several genes of Tarophagus colocasiae.

Selected references

Anonymous. 2013. The taro/dasheen plant hopper (Tarophagus sp.), a new pest of dasheen in Jamaica. Plant Protection Unit (Bodles). Research and Development Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. (PDF)

Asche, M. and M. R. Wilson. 1989. The three taro planthoppers: species recognition in Tarophagus (Hemiptera: Delphacidae. Bulletin of Entomological Research 79: 286-298.

Bartlett, C. R. 2002. A new genus and species of delphacid planthopper (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) from Canada. Entomological News 113(2): 97-102. [comparative note]

Bellis, G. A., J. F. Donaldson, V. Quintao, A. Rice, D. Tenakanai and L. Tran-Nguyen. 2013. New records of Delphacini (Hemiptera: Delphacidae: Delphacinae) from Australia, Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, and an updated checklist of Delphacini from Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology doi:10.1111/aen.12069.

Carmichael, A., R. Harding, G. Jackson, S. Kumar, S. N. Lal, R. Masamdu, J. Wright and A. R. Clarke. 2008. TaroPest: an illustrated guide to pests and diseases of taro in the South Pacific. ACIAR Monograph No. 132, 76 p. (page 52). [accessed 2015 July 04].

Duatin, C. J. Y. and L. B. de Pedro. 1986. Biology and host range of the taro planthopper, Tarophagus proserpina Kirk. Annals of Tropical Research 8: 72-80.

Fennah, R. G. 1950. Fulgoroidea of Fiji. Bulletin Bernice P. Bishop Museum 202: 1-122.

Fennah, R. G. 1956. Homoptera: Fulgoroidea. Insects Micronesia 6(3): 39-211.

Fennah, R. G. 1958. Fulgoroidea of South-eastern Polynesia. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 110(6): 117-220.

Fennah, R. G. 1965. Delphacidae from Australia and New Zealand (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 17(1): 1-59.

Fennah, R. G. 1969. Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. Pacific Insects Monography 21: 1-116.

Fennah, R. G. 1970. Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) from Rennell & Belona Islands. P p. 43-85. In: Wolff T. 1970. The natural history of Rennell Islands, British Solomon Islands (Scientific Research of the Noona Dan Expedition (Rennell Section 1962) & Danish Rennell Exp. 1965.), 6. Danish Science Press, Copenhagen (Denmark).

Fennah, R. G. 1971. Homoptera: Fulgoroidea Supplement. Insects Micronesia 6(8): 563-609.

Fennah, R. G. 1978. Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) from Vietnam. Annales Zoologici Warszawa 34(9): 207-279.

Fullaway, D. T. 1937. Notes on the taro leafhopper (Megamelus proserpina Kirk.). (Delphacidae). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 9: 405-406.

Fullaway, D. T. 1940. A new egg-parasite of the taro leafhopper. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 10: 411-412.

Guglielmino, A. and M. Olmi. 1997. A host-parasite catalog of world Dryinidae (Hymenoptera: Chrysidoidea). Contributions on Entomology, International 2 (2): 165–298.

Guglielmino, A., M. Olmi and C. Bückle. 2013. An updated host-parasite catalogue of world Dryinidae (Hymenoptera: Chrysidoidea). Zootaxa 3740: 1-113.

Halbert, S. E. and C. R. Bartlett. 2015. Pest Alert. The Taro planthopper, Tarophagus colocasiae (Matsumura), a new delphacid planthopper in Florida. Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry. 3 pp. (PDF) and online here (

Hayashi, M. and S. Fujinuma. 2016. Part Fulgoromorpha. Pp. 323-355. In: Entomological Society of Japan 2016 – Catalogue of the insects of Japan. Volume 4 Paraneoptera (Psocodea, Thysanoptera, Hemiptera), 4. Editorial Committee of Catalogue of the Insects of Japan.

Kirkaldy G. W. 1907. Leafhoppers supplement. (Hemiptera). Bulletin. Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association Experiment Station. Division of Entomology. Honolulu 3: 1-186.

Matsumura, S. 1920. Dainippon Gaichu Zensho [= Manual of Japanese Injurious Insects. Ed. 2]. Vol./pp.: 1:1-34, 1-857.  pp. 259-363 and pls. 8-13.] [In Japanese]. [See p. 264].

Matsumura, S. 1932b. Homoptera. In: Dainippon gaichu zusetsu. = [Conspectus of Japanese injurious insects.]. Meiji Tosho, Showa 7 nen . Tokyo. pp.: 1-971, 1-116. Fig(s).: not numbered. Plate(s): 1-70.

Matthews, P. J. 2003. Taro planthoppers (Tarophagus spp) in Australia and the Origins of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Oceania. Archaeology in Oceania 38: 192–202.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1943a. Fascicle 4. Fulgoroidea. Part 3. Araeopidae (Delphacidae). General Catalogue of the Hemiptera (Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts) 4(3): 1-552. (Link to BHL)

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 2013. The Taro/Dasheen Plant Hopper (Tarophagus sp.). Plant Protection Unit, Research and Development Division, Ministry of Agricultures and fisheries, Government of Jamaica. 2 pp. [accessed July 7, 2015].

Muir, F. A. G. 1917. Homopterous notes. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 3: 311-338 [327].

Muir, F. A. G. 1931. Descriptions and records of Fulgoroidea from Australia and the South Pacific Islands. N° 1. Records of the Australian Museum 18: 63-83.

Palomar, M. K. 1987. Relationship between taro feathery mosaic disease and its insect vector, Tarophagus proserpina Kirk. Annals of Tropical Research 9: 68-74.

Revill, P. A., G.V. H. Jackson, G. J. Hafner, I. Yang, M. K. Maino, M. L. Dowling, L. C. Devitt, J. L. Dale and R. M. Harding. 2005. Incidence and distribution of viruses of taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Pacific island countries. Australasian Plant Pathology 34: 327-331.

Tsatsia, H. and G. Jackson. unknown. Alomae and bobone. Farmer fact sheet 1, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Solomon Islands. [accessed 2015 July 04].

USDA PPQ. 1958. Cooperative economic insect report (Oct. 17, 1958). Plant Pest Control Division, Agricultural Reseasearch Service, U.S. Departmenmt of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 8(42): 875-909. (p. 909) (1951 Hawaii here; also in 1962 here; comment 1964 here; Hawaii 1964 here; Hawaii 1965 here; correction here; 1966 note on mirid predator; shows up in the index in 1951 but have not chased these down; Hawaii 1969 here)

Wilson, M. R. 2009. Fiji Arthropods XII. A checklist of Fiji Auchenorrhyncha (Hemiptera). Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 102: 33-48.

Wilson, S. W. 2005. Keys to the families of Fulgoromorpha with emphasis on planthoppers of potential economic importance in the southeastern United States (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha). Florida Entomologist 88(4): 464-481.

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. Pp. 7-45 & Appendix. In: R. F. Denno and T. J. Perfect, (eds.). Planthoppers: Their Ecology and Management. Chapman and Hall, New York. [host records].

Vargo, A. 2000. Taro planthopper (Tarophagus proserpina [Kirkaldy]). Honolulu (HI): ADAP Project. 1 page. (Agricultural Pests of the Pacific; ADAP 2000-22) [link might work]

Zimmerman, E. C. 1948. Insects of Hawaii, Volume 4. Homoptera: Auchenorhyncha. University Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 268 pp.

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