Genus Petrusa Stål, 1862

[Return to North American Flatidae]

Family Flatidae Spinola, 1839

Subfamily Flatinae Spinola, 1839

Tribe Nephesini Melichar, 1923

[draft, needs updating]

Genus Petrusa Stål, 1862: 69 (key).

Type species (in original combination): Cicada marginata Brunnich in Linneaus, 1767: 710 (see Fennah 1942: 156; also Melichar 1923: 74)


= Petrusina Melichar 1923: 75; syn. by Fennah 1942: 157.

Distribution: Primarily Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; one species adventive in Florida

Recognized species

There are 5 species currently assigned to this genus:

Petrusa decepta Caldwell & Martorell, 1951: 229 – Puerto Rico, Tortola

Petrusa epilepsis (Kirkaldy, 1906) (“seagrape flatid”) – USA: Florida (adventive); Puerto Rico, Vieques Island, Caja de Muertos Island (Isla Caja de Muertos, Coffin Island), Hispaniola; Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, Guana, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Anegada, St. John, Scrub, Virgin Gorda, St. Croix; St. Barts [Saint Barthélemy, St. Barts, St. Barths or St. Bartholomew], St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat; Grenada; possible Dominica (probably in error: Brazil, Colombia) (type locality unknown)
= Cicada marginata Brunnich in Linneaus, 1767: 710.
= Cicada pygmaea Fabricius, 1794: 30.
= Flata marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Fabricius 1798: 519.
= Flata pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Fabricius 1798: 519.
= Poeciloptera marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Schaum 1850: 72.
= Petrusa marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Stål, 1862: 69; also Stål 1866: 237; Stål 1869: 111.
= Petrusa pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Stål, 1862: 69.
= Ormenis (Petrusa) marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Melichar 1902: 96.
= Ormenis (Petrusa) pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Melichar 1902: 96.
= Ormenis epilepsis Kirkaldy, 1906: 156; replacement name for unavailable Cicada marginata Brunnich, 1767 [nec Scopoli 1763].
= Ormenis insulicola Kirkaldy, 1909: 32; new name for Ormenis pygmaea Fabricius, 1794 [nec. Olivier 1790].
= Petrusa pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Melichar 1914: 75.
= Petrusina marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Melichar 1914: 75 and Melichar 1923: 75.
= Petrusa pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); syn. with Petrusa insulicola Kirkaldy, 1909 by Melichar 1923: 75.
= Ormenis marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Wolcott 1923: 271; also Osborn 1929: 109.
= Ormenis pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Wolcott 1923: 271; also Osborn 1929: 109.
= Ormenis (Petrusina) marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Osborn, 1935: 222.
= Ormenis (Petrusa) pygmaea (Fabricius, 1794); comb. by Osborn, 1935: 220.
= Ormenis marginata (Brunnich 1767); syn. with Cicada pygmaea Fabricius, 1794 by Fennah 1941: 193.
= Petrusa marginata (Brunnich 1767); comb. by Fennah, 1942: 156.

Petrusa pivota Caldwell & Martorell, 1951: 229 – Puerto Rico

Petrusa pivota yabucensis Caldwell & Martorell, 1951: 229 – Puerto Rico

Petrusa roquensis Caldwell & Martorell, 1951: 230 – Puerto Rico

Petrusa torus Caldwell & Martorell, 1951: 230 – Puerto Rico

List compiled primarily from FLOW (Bourgoin 2015), also Metcalf (1957) and an unpublished list by Lois O’Brien.

Economic Importance:  In its native range, limited except when abundance and when sooty mold becomes a problem (see Nieves-Rivera et al. 2002).  Adventive into Florida as of 2015, evidently still present.

Known host plants:

Petrusa epilepsis  – Polyphagous; host associations: Lantana camara L. (Lantana, Verbenaceae), and Lantana involucrata L. (buttonsage) (Fennah 1941); Batismaritima L. (turtleweed, Bataceae); Phyla nodiflora (L.) Greene (as Lippia nodiflora, turkey tangle fogfruit, Verbenaceae); Chrysobalanus icaco L (“hicacao”, coco plum, Chrysobalanaceae); Meliaazedarach L. (“alelaila”, chinaberrytree; Meliaceae); and Bourreria succulenta Jacq. (“palo de vaca”, bodywood; Boraginaceae); Jasminum pubsecens (Retz.) Willd. (Oleaceae, jasmine ), Piper medium Jacq. (Piperaceae);  Panicum maximum Jacq. (Poaceae);  Coccoloba laurifolia Jacq. (Polygonaceae, tietongue), Coccoloba uvifera (L.) Jacq. (Polygonaceae, sea grape); Coffea sp. (Rubiaceae, coffee);  Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle (Rutaceae, lime) Citrus medica L. (Rutaceae, citron); Avicennia germinans(L.)L. (Verbenaceae, black mangrove);  Clerodendrum aculeatum (L.) Schltdl. (as Volkameria aculeata L.; Verbenaceae, haggar bush), Cordia polycephala (Lam.) I.M.Johnst. (as Cordia corymbosa (Desv.) G. Don (Boraginaceae)

(Myers 1928, Wolcott 1926, 1936, Ramos 1941, Fennah 1941, Caldwell & Martorell 1951, Wilson et al. 1994, Nieves-Riveira et al. 2012)

Also Coccoloba uvifera (L.) L. (seagrape; polygonaceae)

Petrusa pivota yabucensisUrerabaccifera (L.) Gaudich. (“ortiga”, scratchbush; Urticaceae) (Caldwell and Martorell 1951)

[More to come]

Hosts from Fennah (1941), Caldwell & Martorell (1951) and Wilson et al. (1994); plant names from USDA PLANTS or Tropicos.


Fennah’s 1942 redescription of the genus is as follows:

  Frons at widest part as broad as long, or very slightly broader, median carina distinct on basal two-thirds, obsolete on apical third, lateral carinae obsolete or indicated at base, lateral margins carinate; no carinae on clypeus;  vertex very short; width of head (with eyes) equal to width of thorax. Pronotum with anterior margin convex, posterior margin concave; mesonotum without carinae or median carina indicated at apex. Hind tibia with one spine before apex. Tegmen 2.2 times longer than width at middle. Costal  area about as wide as costal cell, granulate; Sc strong, simple to apex, R forking one-quarter from base, M forking about same level as R fork, Cu forking slightly basad of M fork. Base of R and M granulate. Nodal line parallel to apical margin of tegmen marked anteriorly by transverse veins and for most of length by an arcuate furrow. Apical line even and distinct. Anterior and posterior angles smoothly rounded, apical margin shallowly rounded.

  Anal segment of male deflexed about 45 degrees in apical half, with lateral lobe ventrally. Genital styles with dorsal margin entire. Female anal segment long, rather more than three times as long as lateral styles of ovipositor. Lateral styles short, ovoid in side view, and devoid of tooth-like process on posterior margin. Egg ovoid, approximately 2.2 times longer than wide, not operculate. Eggs not inserted, but laid in a low mound ovate in outline, densely covered with a felt of small white spicules. Epidermal secretion of instars white.

Key to species modified from Caldwell and Martorell (1951)

1. Aedeagus with lateral process broad in dorsal portion; dorsal apex single to trifid, curved anteriorly; ventral portion stylate, projected anteriorly … epilepsis [as marginata]
1′.- Aedeagus with lateral process more slender; dorsal and ventral apices directed different direction, or both directed posteriorly, or without a ventral projection … 2

2. Lateral process without apparent ventral projection; dorsal portion curved anteriorly following the apical processes  … decepta
2′.- Lateral process with a ventral portion; dorsal portion projected posteriorly … 3

3. Lateral process somewhat S-shaped … 4
3′.- Lateral process C-shaped; ventral portion often minute … torus

4. Lateral process with dorsal portion broad; with subapex … roguensis
4′.- Lateral process slender throughout; apices simple … pivota

Petrusa epilepsis from Guana Island

Photos of Petrusa epilepsis from Florida (Photos by Susan Halbert, FSCA)

Petrusa epilepsis

Petrusa epilepsis from Florida (Photos by Susan Halbert, FSCA)

Petrusa epilepsis

Petrusa epilepsis from Florida (Photos by Susan Halbert, FSCA)

Petrusa epilepsis

Petrusa epilepsis from Florida (Photos by Susan Halbert, FSCA)


Figure from Caldwell and Martorell 1951

Petrusa epilepsis (as Ormenis marginata) from Fennah 1941 (left male, lateral view, right female with egg inset).


Fennah 1942 commented:

Among females of species falling under Ormenis and Petrusa there are two types of ovipositor. In one the lateral styles (3rd valvulae) are broad, strong, and beset with tooth-like processes directed inwards. In all cases so far observed females with this type of ovipositor [Ormenis] insert the eggs to a greater or less extent in the substratum, which is normally the outer-most tissues of a leaf or soft stem. In the other type [Petrusa] the lateral styles are very much reduced, being narrow, bluntly pointed or rounded at the apex, and entirely devoid of tooth-like processes. Species with this type of ovipositor do not insert the eggs, but lay them upon the substratum which may be as above or of a woody texture.

The relative size of the anal segment of the female is apparently correlated with the quantity of waxy secretion which IS deposited over or along with the eggs at the time of oviposition, as this substance is supported on the lower surface of the segment. The amount of secretion is not closely correlated with the type of ovipositor, and on present data appears to be fairly constant among the species of each genus. The colour of this secretion is usually white, but in a few cases is brown. The shape of the egg is variable and in its most elaborate forms offers a reliable means of distinguishing genera. The significance of some of the· structures observed is very imperfectly understood. The eggs of 0. contaminata [now Antillormenis ] and its allies are thick-walled and possess a well-marked operculum. They are not covered with waxy filaments but are merely sprinkled thinly with short greyish spicules. By contrast the eggs of 0. septempunctata [now Ilesia] are thin-walled, not operculate, and when laid are covered with a thick layer of white waxy filaments matted together.

Websites:Petrusa on…

Barcode of life.
Genbank. (not sure that link will work)
Discover Life (N/A)
American Insects
3I Interactive Keys and Taxonomic Databases (Dmitry Dmitriev)

Beetles in the bush” (blog)

Forestry Images

Petrusa can be commonly collected by general inspection, sweeping or beating of woody vegetation. They are relatively conspicuous on their hosts.

Molecular resources:

Genbank has data for Petrusa epilepsis; and BOLD does also.

Selected references: [not yet complete]

Bahder, B., S. Halbert, De-Fen Mou, E. Helmick, N. Soto, M. Otero and A. Segarra. 2018. Establishment of the Sea Grape Flatid, Petrusa epilepsis (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Flatidae), in Florida. Florida Entomologist 101(4):634-642.

Bartlett, C.R. 2000. An annotated list of planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) of Guana Island (British West Indies). Entomological News 111(2):120-132.

Bartlett, C. R. and S. E. Halbert. 2015.Petrusa epilepsis, seagrape flatid planthopper, a new Continental USA record. P. 6 In: S.E. Halbert (ed.). Entomology Section. Tri-Ology 54(3): 5-10.

Borkhataria, R. R., J. A. Collazo and M. J. Groom.  2006.  Additive effects of vertebrate predators on insects in a Puerto Rican coffee plantation.  Ecological Application 16(2): 696-703.

Borkhataria, R. R., J. A. Collazo and M. J. Groom. 2012. Species abundance and potential biological control services in shade vs. sun coffee in Puerto Rico. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 51: 1-5.

Bourgoin, T. 2015. FLOW (Fulgoromorpha Lists on The Web): a world knowledge base dedicated to Fulgoromorpha.  Version 8, updated 12.vii.2015.

Caldwell, J. S. 1950. Three new Antillean Fulgoroidea, with distributional notes on a few others (Homoptera). American Museum Novitates 1460: 1-4.

Caldwell, J. S. and L. F. Martorell. 1951. Review of the auchenorynchous Homoptera of Puerto Rico.” Part II. The Fulgoroidea except Kinnaridae. Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico [1950], 34(2): 133-269.

Fabricius, J. C. 1794. Ryngota. In Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta: secundun classes, ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonimis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Impensis Christ. Gottl. Proft. Hafniae 4: 1-472.

Fennah, R. G. 1941. Notes on the flatid genus Ormenis in the British Lesser Antilles and Trinidad, with descriptions of new species (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 43(9): 191-210.

Fennah, R. G. 1942. Notes on some West Indian Flatidae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 44(8): 155-167.

Fennah, R. G. 1947. Notes on West Indian Flatidae (Homoptera Fulgoroidea). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 60: 107-117.

Fennah, R. G. 1949. On a small collection of Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) from the Virgin Islands. Psyche 56 (2): 51-65.

Fennah, R. G. 1965. New Species of Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) from the West Indies. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 117(4): 95-126.

Kirkaldy, G. W. 1906e. Two new Homoptera from Afrika, and synonymical notes. The Canadian Entomologist 38: 154-156.

Kirkaldy, G. W.1909c. Hemiptera: new and old. — No. I. The Canadian Entomologist 41: 30-32.

Leonard, M. B. 1933. Notes on insect conditions in Puerto Rico for the fiscal year, July 1931 thru June 1932. The Journal of the Department of Agriculture of Puerto Rico 17: 97-137.

Martorell, L. F. 1976. Annotated Food Plant Catalog of the Insects of Puerto Rico. University of Puerto Rico. Agricultural Experiment Station. 303 pp.

Melichar, L. 1901a. Monographie der Acanaloniiden und Flatiden (Homoptera). Annalen des K.K. Naturhistorischen Hofmuseums 16: 178-258

Melichar, L. 1902a. Monographie der Acanoloniiden und Flatiden (Homoptera) (Fortsetzung.). Annalen des K.K. Naturhistorischen Hofmuseums. 17:1-253. Plate(s): 1-9.

Melichar, L. 1923a. Homptera, fam. Acanaloniidae, Flatidae et Ricaniidae. Genera Insectorum. Bruxelles 182: 1-185.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1957. General Catalogue of the Homoptera. Fascicle IV, Fulgoroidea, Part 13, Flatidae and Hypochthonellidae. North Carolina State College, Raleigh, North Carolina. Pp. 1-565.

Muir, F.A.G. 1924g. New and little known fulgorids form the West Indies (Homoptera). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 5:461-472.

Myers, J. G. 1928. Notes on Cuban Fulgoroid Homoptera. Pages 13-28, Fig 1-15. In Harvard Biological Laboratory and Botanical Garden in Cuba (Atkins Foundation), Ed. Studies on Cuban Insects. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 28pp. + fig. 1-15.

Nieves-Rivera, A. M., T. A. Tattar and E. H. Williams, Jr. 2002. Sooty mould-planthopper association on leaves of the black mangrove Avicennia germinans (L.) stearn in southwestern Puerto Rico. Arboricultural Journal 26(2): 141-155. (PDF is here at least for now)

Osborn, H. 1929b. Notes on Porto Rican Homoptera. The Journal of the Department of Agriculture Puerto Rico 13: 81-112.

Osborn, H. 1935a. Insects of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Homoptera (excepting the Sternorhynchi). Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands 14:111-260.

Otero Arocho, M. 2017. Revisión del género Petrusa Stål (Hemíptera: Flatidae) en Puerto Rico con notas sobre sus hospederos y biología. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez. Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Masters Thesis.

Ramos, J. A. 1946. The insects of Mona Island (West Indies). The journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico 30 (1): 1-74 + 2 plates (see page 19).

Segarra-Carmona, A., R. A. Franqui, M. Otero-Arocho. 2013. Survey of palm-associated Fulgoroidea in Puerto Rico. Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico 97(3-4): 107-117.

Spinola, M. 1839. Essai sur les Fulgorelles, sous-tribu de la tribu des Cicadaires, ordre des Rhyngotes. (Suite). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France. Paris 8: 339-454.

Stål, C. 1862. Bidrag till Rio de Janeiro-tratkens Hemipterfauna.II. Handlingar. Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps Akademien 3(6): 1-75.

Stål, C. 1866a. Hemiptera Homoptera Latr. Hemiptera Africana4: 1-276.

Stål, C. 1869a. Hemiptera Fabriciana. Fabricianska Hemipterarter, efter de i Köpenhamn och Kiel förvarade typexemplaren granskade och beskrifne. 2. Svenska vetenskaps-akademiens handlingar 8 (1):1-130.

Van Duzee, E. P. 1912a. Hemipterological gleanings. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Science 10: 477-512.

Wolcott, G. N. 1923b. “Insectae Portoricensis.” A preliminary annotated check-list of the insects of Porto Rico, with descriptions of some new species. The Journal of the Department of Agriculture Puerto Rico 7 (1):1-313.

Walker, F. 1851. List of the specimens of Homopterous Insects in the collection of the British Museum. British Museum, London. 2: 261-636.

Walker, F. 1858b. Supplement. List of the specimens of Homopterous Insects in the collection of the British Museum 1858: 1-307.

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.

Wolcott, G. N. 1926. Notes on the insects of the sea-grape, Coccoloba uvifera (L.) Jacq. in Porto Rico and adjacent countries. Bulletin of Entomological Research 27: 49-52.

Wolcott, G. N. 1936. Insectae Borinquenses. A revised annotated check-list of the insects of Puerto Rico, with a host-plant index by José Otero. The Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico 20: 1-600 (see pages 102-103).

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