Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

Superfamily PSYLLOIDEA Latreille, 1807

Jumping Plantlice, Lerps

Compiler and date details

October 2012 - ABRS, to introduce classification of Burckhardt & Ouvrard (2012)

30 May 2002 - David Hollis, The Natural History Museum, London


The Psylloidea is a group of highly host specific, phloem-feeding, sternorhynchous Hemiptera commonly known as jumping plantlice and lerp insects. The group comprises over 3000 species in 235 recognised genera, distributed worldwide from the Arctic Circle to the subantarctic islands of New Zealand with its greatest diversity in tropical and south temperate regions.

Over 99% of species are associated with mainly woody plants in a wide range of dicotyledonous angiosperm families. The remainder includes angiosperm associates: one small Holarctic genus of 20 species that develop on Juncus and Carex, two polyphagous Palaearctic species known from Allium, a small group of five species associated with Pritchardia palms on Hawaii; and gymnosperm associates: two New Zealand species on Podocarpaceae and two southern Chilean species on Cupressaceae.

Adult psylloids resemble minute cicadas, ranging in length from 1–10 mm. They have two pairs of membraneous wings held roof-like over the body, the forewings usually of a harder constituency than the hindwings; the head bears one median and two lateral ocelli and the antennae are non-aristoid and usually 10-segmented; the tarsus of each leg comprises two sub-equal segments and each apical tarsal segment bears a pair of claws apically. The hind legs, modified for jumping, have relatively massive coxae. A general account of adult morphology was given by Hodkinson & White (1979, and references therein); and larval morphology was given in some detail by White & Hodkinson (1985). Larvae are dorso-ventrally flattened, oval to elongate oval; the head bears a pair of compound eyes and the paired antennae are 3–10 segmented (rarely all segments appear fused); in the first four instars the tarsi are fused with the tibiae but the legs of fifth instar larvae have one-segmented tarsi each bearing a pair of claws and usually a well-developed arolium apically; the anus is postero-apical or ventral and surrounded by one or more wax-producing pore rings. The larvae of the majority of species are free-living, but around 15% of known species are gall-inducers and about 7% are lerp-forming. This latter life-style is predominant in the Australian fauna.

Compared with other sternorhynchous groups, psylloid biology is straightforward. Reproduction is normally sexual. Eggs are laid singly or in clusters around the potential feeding sites of the emerging larvae; there are five larval instars after which adults emerge in equal male to female numbers. Diapause can occur at any stage in the life cycle. There can be from one to several generations per year, dependent upon prevailing climatic conditions and phenology of the host plants. The usual feeding site of both larvae and adults is on the undersides of young flushing leaves but all stages can be found in flower buds, on developing fruits, and under bark; larvae of a small number of species are root-feeding. The effects of feeding activity on the host plants are quite varied. Often there is very little visual effect. However, damage, due largely to larval feeding, includes necrosis around feeding sites, early senescence of leaves, leaf distortion and defoliation, dieback of young growth and even death of the host. Bacterial and mycoplasmal plant pathogens are transmitted by psylloids, the most important of these being Citrus Greening Disease, Pear Decline, and Fireblight and Potato Yellowing. Generalist predators of the group include birds, spiders, ants, coccinellid beetles, syrphid and lace-wing larvae, and mirid and anthocorid bugs. Larvae of the cecidomyid fly genus Endopsylla are endoparasites of adults, and encyrtid and eulophid wasps are the main larval parasitoids. General accounts of psylloid biology were given by Hodkinson (1974, and 1984: for gall-inducers).

The psylloid fauna of Australia comprises 354 described species (this catalogue includes a further 21 unidentified species) in 58 genera, which is over 10% of the world fauna, with species representing all six of the currently recognised families. Keys to separate these families are found in Brown & Hodkinson (1988: for the Neotropics), Morgan (1984: for South Australia) and Taylor & Carver (1991: for Australia). The vast majority of Australian psylloids (93%) belong to the family Psyllidae, due largely to the massive radiation of one group, the Spondyliaspidinae, associated with the myrtaceous flora. This majority will increase further when the wattle-feeding genus Acizzia is studied fully.

The available keys to genera given by Tuthill & Taylor (1955) and Morgan (1984) are now largely outdated. The work of Morgan (1984) is the most recent general account of Australian psylloids and includes a checklist of 211 species. Other useful references are Crawford (1919: Oriental and Pacific regions), Mathur (1975: India), Tuthill (1952: New Zealand), Yang (1984: Taiwan) and Zimmerman (1948: Hawaii).

The classification of Burckhardt and Ouvrard (2012) has been introduced, leading to a significant rearrangement of taxa from that of Hollis (2004).


A grant from the Australian Biological Resources Study enabled me to visit Australia to work in the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, and to travel to Australian museums and other institutions holding collections of Psylloidea. This opportunity enriched the checklist considerably, resulting in incorporation of numerous extra species' and host plant records, as well as several additional genera and a number of species hitherto unknown from Australia. I am especially grateful to ABRS and CSIRO Entomology for their support, and am confident that this work will set a sound basis for future studies on the Australian Psylloidea fauna.

Alice Wells' editorial assistance with the checklist was much appreciated.

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


Host plants recorded for undescribed/unidentified species

Acacia montana Benth. [MIMOSACEAE].
Colophorina sp. [PSYLLIDAE].

Alyxia ruscifolia R.Br. [APOCYNACEAE]
Pseudophacopteron sp. [PHACOPTERONIDAE]

Buchanania ?obovata [ANACARDIACEAE]
Calophya sp. [CALOPHYIDAE]

Cassia fistula L. [CAESALPINIACEAE]
Euryconus sp. [PSYLLIDAE]

Ficus benjamina L. [MORACEAE]
Macrohomatoma sp. [HOMOTOMIDAE]

Ficus opposita Miq. [MORACEAE]
Pauropsylla sp. [TRIOZIDAE]

Geijera parviflora Lindl. [RUTACEAE]
Anomalopsylla sp.n. [PSYLLIDAE]
Hymenosporum flavum (Hook.) F.Muell. [PITTOSPORACEAE]
Psylla sp. [PSYLLIDAE]

Toona australis (F.Muell.) Harms [MELIACEAE]
Trisetipsylla sp. [PSYLLIDAE]

Trema tomentosa (Roxb.) H.Hara [ULMACEAE]
Paurocephala sp. [PSYLLIDAE]


General References

Brown, R.G. & Hodkinson, I.D. 1988. Taxonomy and ecology of the jumping plant-lice of Panama (Homoptera: Psylloidea). Entomonograph 9: 1-304

Burckhardt, D. & Ouvrard, D. 2012. A revised classification of the jumping plant-lice (Hemiptera: Psylloidea). Zootaxa 3509: 1-34

Burns, A.E., Taylor, G.S., Watson, D.M. & Cunningham, S.A. 2014. Diversity and host specificity of Psylloidea (Hemiptera) inhabiting box mistletoe, Amyema miquelii (Loranthaceae) and three of its host Eucalyptus species. Austral Entomology

Crawford, D.L. 1919. The jumping plant lice of the Palaeotropics and the South Pacific Islands. Philippine Journal of Science 15: 139-207

Hodkinson, I.D. 1974. The biology of the Psylloidea (Homoptera): a review. Bulletin of Entomological Research 64: 325-339

Hodkinson, I.D. 1984. 3. The biology and ecology of the gall-forming Psylloidea (Homoptera). pp. 59-77 in Ananthakrishnan, T.N. (ed.). Biology of Gall Insects. London : Arnold [xi] 362 pp.

Hodkinson, I.D. & White, I.M. 1979. Homoptera Psylloidea. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 2(5a): [iv] 1-98

Mathur, R.N. 1975. Psyllidae of the Indian Subcontinent. New Delhi : ICAR xii 429 pp.

Morgan, F.D. 1984. Psylloidea of South Australia. Adelaide, South Australia : Government Printer 136 pp.

Taylor, K.L. & Carver, M. 1991. Superfamily Psylloidea. pp. 448-450 in Naumann, I.D. (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 542 pp.

Tuthill, L.D. 1952. On the Psyllidae of New Zealand (Homoptera). Pacific Science 6: 83-125

Tuthill, L.D. & Taylor, K.L. 1955. Australian genera of the Family Psyllidae (Hemiptera, Homoptera). Australian Journal of Zoology 3: 227-257

White, I.M. & Hodkinson, I.D. 1985. Nymphal taxonomy and systematics of the Psylloidea (Homoptera). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 50: 153-301

Yang, C.T. 1984. Psyllidae of Taiwan. Taiwan Museum Special Publication Series 3: 1-305

Zimmerman, E.C. 1948. Superfamily Psylloidea. Insects of Hawaii 5: 12-38


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)
17-Nov-2022 PSYLLOIDEA Latreille, 1807 10-Sep-2020 MODIFIED
08-Dec-2014 PSYLLOIDEA Latreille, 1807 10-Sep-2020 MODIFIED
17-Oct-2012 17-Oct-2012 MODIFIED
29-Jun-2012 29-Jun-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)