Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Subfamily Deltocephalinae Dallas, 1870

Compiler and date details

6 August 2013 - Murray J. Fletcher

1 June 2011 - Murray J. Fletcher



The Deltocephalinae includes some of the world's most economically damaging leafhoppers. In fact, within the Auchenorrhyncha, only the planthopper family Delphacidae, which are also grass feeders, have comparable economic impacts on the world's grass and cereal industries. The main damage is as vectors of plant pathogens, particularly phytoplasmas.

The higher classification of the Deltocephalinae is undergoing revision as comprehensive datasets, combining morphological and molecular data, are analysed. Hamilton (1975) regarded the Eupelicinae, Paraboloponinae and Selenocephalinae as being part of the Deltocephalinae and Linnavuori (1959) included the Penthimiinae as a tribe. These changes were supported by Dietrich and Rakitov (2002). Zahniser and Dietrich (2008) suggested that the Deltocephalinae is a younger name than Penthimiinae which should take precedence but, fortunately, recognised the provisions of ICZN Article 35.5 which allow Deltocephalinae to retain priority. The penthimiines have been included here as the tribe Penthimiini, following these recent publications. Dietrich (2004) also transferred the Occinirvanini from the Nirvaninae to the Deltocephalinae. A more comprehensive analysis of the Deltocephalinae was provided by Zahniser and Dietrich (2010) who made additional transfers of tribes into the Deltocephalinae although many of those did not affect the Australian fauna. All of the grass/sedge feeding groups were recovered in a single clade which indicates that this is a conservative feature within the Deltocephalinae. Zahniser and Dietrich (2010) recognised the Scaphoideiini as a nomen nudum as it was first published in a thesis abstract, so the genera previously placed in that tribe were unplaced to tribe. Zahniser and Dietrich (2013) have redefined the tribes and subtribes of the Deltocephalinae (including the Scaphoideini) and made numerous generic transfers which have affected the classification of the Australian fauna. They also described four new tribes and introduced a number of new subtribes, some of which apply to the Australian fauna. Further changes will be made as additional information becomes available.

Many undescribed species of Deltocephalinae are known to occur in Australia. Funding from the Australian Biological Resources Study has allowed taxonomic research on this subfamily to be undertaken and the AFD will therefore be updated as the descriptions of the new taxa are published.



"Small to large, usually wedge-shaped leafhoppers. Head with ocelli on the anterior margin close to eyes; frontoclypeus not inflated, without carinae; lateral frontal sutures extending to ocelli; antennal ledges reduced or absent; gena with a fine erect seta laterad of lateral frontal suture; gena large, mostly concealing proepisternum. Forewing macropterous to brachypterous; if macropterous, with apices overlapping at rest; with 3 anteapical cells; often with 1 or more crossveins between A1 and claval suture; inner apical cell tapered distally, not extended to wing apex. Profemur AM1 seta distinct; row AV with short stout setae extending from base to 1/2 to 2/3 length of femur; intercalary row with numerous thin setae arranged in one row. Mesotrochanter with apical posteroventral stout seta. Metafemur macrosetal formula usually 2+2+1 with penultimate pair close-set. Metatibia usually anteriorly-posteriorly compressed, ventral side with median ridge. Male pygofer with basolateral oblique membranous cleft. Valve produced posteriorly, lateral margins short, articulated with pygofer laterally. Subgenital plates articulated with each other and with valve; triangular, more or less depressed or flattened; with dorsal slot or fold articulating with style. Connective Y-shaped or ‘linear’ (with anterior arms closely appressed), rarely T-shaped (with arms widely divergent); without anteromedial lobe or process. Style broadly bilobed basally; apophysis not elongate. First valvula convex to relatively straight; dorsal sculpturing pattern reaching or not reaching dorsal margin; sculpturing pattern strigate, concatenate, reticulate, imbricate, maculose, or granulose. Second valvula with basal fused section as long as or longer than distal paired blades; with or without median dorsal tooth; usually with small to large, regularly or irregularly shaped dorsoapical teeth on apical 1/3 or more; teeth sometimes restricted to apical 1/4, or absent." (Zahniser & Dietrich 2013)

Zahniser & Dietrich (2013) also commented that, because of the size and morphological diversity of this subfamily, nearly all of the characters listed above occur in different states in some members of the subfamily.

In general, Australian deltocephaline leafhoppers are medium to small in size and are mainly grass-feeding. The antennal ledges are usually obsolete.


ID Keys

Fletcher, M.J. (2009 and updates). Key to the leafhoppers and treehoppers of Australia and neighbouring areas (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Dec-2019 13-Aug-2013 MODIFIED
05-Dec-2019 16-May-2012 MODIFIED
05-Dec-2019 05-Aug-2011 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)