Xestocephalus cf. desertorum

Xestocephaline Leafhopper

Xestocephalus sp., Leafhopper

Family: Cicadellidae

Subfamily: Aphrodinae

Length: Males 1.9 to 3.2 mm. Females 2.2 to 3.7 mm.


Some leafhoppers in the genus Xestocephalus are believed to be "ant guests," living in ant nests and feeding on plant roots there. Hamilton (1975) sifted adult Xestocephalus out of topsoil containing ants.

The various species in the genus are of similar appearance, generally short and robust, brownish with lighter markings.

Paul Cwikla, who made a careful examination of 9,000 specimens of Xestocephalus species (1985), noted that "The only accurate means of identification is through the use of the male genitalia" and that "identification of female specimens can only be made when associated with male specimens."

Most of our adult Xestocephalus photos have been taken in July, August, and September. Members of this genus fly readily to lights.

Xestocephalus desertorum is a variable species and is the most common Xestocephalus species in at least the northern part of its range. It is found from Canada to Uruguay (Cwikla, 1985).

Xestocephalus sp., Leafhopper

Roman Rakitov (2000) used a high-powered lawn vaccuum to collect 153 immatures of Xestocephalus desertorum from low grass in Illinois. He observed the immatures feeding in the laboratory, noting that they fed on the uppermost part of grass roots, and did not enter the soil, or at most penetrated the soil only slightly. Adults fed on both the roots and the green parts of grasses.

In the field, adults were present beginning about June 20, and Rakitov stated the species is surely bivoltine.

By September, about half the adults in the field had been parasitized by Dryinid wasps, and Rakitov stated the actual laying of the egg by the female wasp had been in adult, not nymphal, leafhoppers.

Another leafhopper in this genus on the American Insects site is the distinctive Xestocephalus brunneus.

American Insects site