Genus Deserta Ball and Hartzell, 1922

[Back to North American Dictyopharidae]

Family Dictyopharidae Spinola, 1839

Subfamily Orgeriinae Fieber, 1872

Tribe Orgeriini Fieber, 1872

Genus Deserta Ball & Hartzell, 1922: 141.
Type species (in original combination): Orgamara bipunctata Ball, 1909: 199.



Southwestern US.

Distribution of Deserta from FLOW (1 Oct. 2018)

Recognized species

There are 6 species currently in the genus {see Metcalf 1946: 198 for genus]:

Deserta bipunctata (Ball, 1909) – USA: CA, UT
Orgamara bipunctata Ball, 1909: 199-200.
Deserta bipunctata (Ball, 1909); comb. by Ball & Hartzell 1922: 143.

Deserta fuscata Doering, 1955: 204 – USA: CA, NV

Deserta obesa (Ball, 1909) – USA: AZ, UT
=Orgamara obesa Ball, 1909: 199.
Deserta obesa (Ball, 1909); comb. by Ball & Hartzell 1922: 143.

Deserta obscura (Ball, 1909) – USA: CA, ID, NV, UT
Orgamara obscura Ball, 1909: 200.
Deserta obscura (Ball, 1909); comb. by Ball & Hartzell 1922: 142.

Deserta pinturensis Doering, 1955: 208 – USA: CA,NV, UT

Deserta raptoria Ball, 1937 – USA: CA

Economic Importance:


Known host plants:

Deserta obesa – Artemisia (sagebrush, Asteraceae)
Deserta obscura – Artemisia tridentata Nutt. (big sagebrush)
Deserta raptoria – Chrysothamnus sp. (Rabbitbush) (Asteraceae)

Hosts from Wilson et al. (1994), Emeljanov (2006); plant names from USDA PLANTS or Tropicos.


Brachypterous, leaving several terga visible from above, tegulae hidden (all Orgeriinae); callosity present behind eye; head more than 2x length of eyes; head as seen from side, beak-like, the apex obliquely rounding from above, the lower angle slightly produced.

Keys to genus of US Orgeriinae in Doering & Darby 1943 and Doering (1955); Doering (1955) revised Deserta.

Description of the genus from Ball and Hartzell 1922: 142: [See also Doering 1955: 197]

Intermediate between Yucanda and Orgamara but with the apex of the cephalic process beaked.

Cephalic process moderately long, very nearly parallel margined to just before the apex where it rounds over to the acute and slightly produced lower angle which is curved down like the beak of a raptorial bird, the extremity triangular. Front broad and nearly parallel, the lateral carinae widening toward the apex. Median carina of vertex extending the full length of the cephalic process. Central tablet of pronotum distinct. A definite oval or slightly oblique callosity behind the eye, separating it from the pronotum. The elytra brachypterous, irregularly reticulate. Legs simple; hind tibia with 7 strong spines. Type of the genus Orgamara bipunctata Ball.


Key to the Species of the Genus Deserta (For both sexes, modified from Doering 1955)

1. From above head process in front of eye (c-c, plate II, diagram 1 ) approximately three times length of eye (d-d ); from side view process extended to a narrowed beaklike apex due to upper margin bending suddenly at apex of laterofrontal carina (x, plate I, diagram 1) and acutely meeting the slightly angled lower margin (y); part of frons in front of eye (e-e, plate II, diagram 9) longer than part behind ( f-f ) … 2
1- From above head process not over 2-1/2 times length at eye; from side view distance from origin of bend to apex shorter, upper margin (except bipunctata) gradually rounding to apex; part of frons in front of eye equal to or shorter than part behind … 3

2. Lateral margins of vertex flaring but not greatly elevated at apex; apical plate of head process from cephalic view pentagonal but distinctly wider than long; uniform gray color, slightly irrorate … Deserta raptoria (Ball) p. 209
2- Lateral margins of vertex elevated and suddenly constricted at apex so lateral compartments of frons are distinct; apical plate of head process pentagonal but length and width equal; darker, fuscous dots more numerous, … Deserta fuscata Doering p. 205

3. ( 1 ) From side view lower apical angle of head process produced into a rounded knob, the upper margin of process flared and abruptly bent ventrad … Deserta bipunctata (Ball) p. 204
3- From side view lower margin of head process straight or almost so, apex not forming a beak or knob, upper margin not flared, gradually rounded to meet lower margin … 4

4.(3) Part of frons in front of eye (e-e) shorter than part behind (f-f); apical plate of head process from cephalic view pentagonal, its vertical length greater than its width … Deserta obscura (Ball) p. 207
4- Part of frons in front of eye equal to part behind; apical plate broader than long … 5

5.(4) Laterofrontal carina and genal compartment in front of eyes conspicuous, vertex flared at apex obscuring frontal compartments; central tablet of frons occupying most of apical portion … Deserta pinturensis Doering p. 208
5- Laterofrontal carina and genal compartment not conspicuous, lateral margins of vertex constricted anterior to eyes, narrowing to a pointed apex; central tablet of frons not distinctly widened at apex … Deserta obesa (Ball) p. 206

DesertaobscuraDV0036 DesertaobscuraFV0022

Deserta obscura (All photos by Rick Donovall or Kimberley Shropshire, Department of Entomology, University of Delaware)

Deserta obscura (All photos by Rick Donovall or Kimberley Shropshire, Department of Entomology, University of Delaware)

Deserta from Doering 1955 (plate 1)

Deserta from Doering 1955 (plate 2)

Deserta from Doering 1955 (plate 3)


Deserta on …
Discover Life.
BOLD (not present, link to subfamily).
Bugguide (N/A as of Oct. 2019, link to Orgeriinae taxonomy)
3I Interactive Keys and Taxonomic Databases (Dmitry Dmitriev)


Collected infrequently, found by inspecting or sweeping hosts.

Molecular resources: 

As of this writing (1 Oct. 2018) , data for this genus is not available on Genbank (this link shows several taxa with ‘deserta‘ as a specific epithet) or on Barcode of life.

Selected references:

Ball, E. D. 1909.  Some remarkable new leaf-hoppers of the family Fulgoridae. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 22: 197-204.

Ball, E. D. 1937. Some new Fulgoridae from Western United States. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 32: 171-183.

Ball, E. D. and A. Hartzell. 1922. A review of the desert leafhoppers of the Orgerini (Rhynchota Fulgoridae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 15: 137-152.

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.

Doering, K. C. 1955. Some taxonomic and morphological studies of two genera of North American Dictyopharidae. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37(7): 195-221.

Doering, K. C. 1956. The taxonomic value of the pretarsal structures in the classification of certain Fulgoroidea. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37: 627-643. pdf [Deserta  studied]

Doering, K. C. and H. H. Darby. 1943. A contribution to the taxonomy of the genus Orgerius in America, north of Mexico (Fulgoridae, Homoptera). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 16(2-3): 64-98.

Emeljanov, A. F. 1983. Dictyopharidae from the Cretaceous deposits on the Taymyr Peninsula (Insecta, Homoptera). Paleontologicheskii Zhurnal 3: 79-85 [In Russian; translated in: Paleontological Journal 17(3): 77-82].

Emeljanov, A. F. 2006. Taxonomic changes in American Orgeriinae (Homoptera : Dictyopharidae. Zoosystematica Rossica 15(1): 73-76.

Haws, B. A., D. L. Nelson and A. H. Roe. 1988. Index to information on insects associated with western wildland shrubs. General technical report INT 248. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 296 pp. pdf

Metcalf, Z. P. 1946. General Catalogue of the Homoptera. Fascicle IV Fulgoroidea. Part 8 Dictyopharidae. Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts.

Spinola, M. 1839a. Essai sur les Fulgorelles, sous-tribu de la tribu des Cicadaires, ordre des Rhyngotes. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 8: 133-337.

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.

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