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Genus Clastoptera

spittlebug - Clastoptera xanthocephala Unknown Homopteran  - Clastoptera xanthocephala Spittlebug - Clastoptera testacea Superfamily Cercopoidea - Clastoptera dark hopper - Clastoptera xanthocephala Clastoptera achatina Clastoptera brunnea cool spittlebug on black walnut - Clastoptera obtusa
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha (True Hoppers)
Infraorder Cicadomorpha (Cicadas, Spittlebugs, Leafhoppers, and Treehoppers)
Superfamily Cercopoidea (Spittlebugs)
Family Clastopteridae (Clastopterid Spittlebugs)
Genus Clastoptera
Explanation of Names
Clastoptera Germar 1839
35 spp. described in our area(1), many undescribed; ~80 total(2)
Clastoptera achatina Germar, 1839
Clastoptera arborina Ball, 1927
Clastoptera arizonana Doering, 1929
Clastoptera atrapicata Hamilton, 1977
Clastoptera binotata Ball, 1896
Clastoptera brunnea Ball, 1919
Clastoptera canyonensia Doering, 1929
Clastoptera delicata Uhler, 1876
Clastoptera distincta Doering, 1929
Clastoptera doeringae Hamilton, 1978
Clastoptera elongata Doering, 1929
Clastoptera globosa Fowler, 1897
Clastoptera hyperici McAtee, 1920
Clastoptera juniperina Ball, 1919
Clastoptera laevigata Hamilton, 2015
Clastoptera lawsoni Doering, 1929
Clastoptera lineatocollis Stål, 1854
Clastoptera lugubris Ball, 1919
Clastoptera media Doering, 1929
Clastoptera mineralis Thompson, 2023
Clastoptera obtusa borealis Ball, 1919
Clastoptera obtusa obtusa (Say, 1825)
Clastoptera obtusa tristis Van Duzee, 1912
Clastoptera octonotata Hamilton, 2015
Clastoptera osborni Gillette & Baker, 1895
Clastoptera ovata Doering, 1929
Clastoptera pallidocephala Doering, 1929
Clastoptera proteus anceps McAtee, 1920
Clastoptera proteus nigricollis Fitch, 1851
Clastoptera proteus osceola Ball, 1927
Clastoptera proteus proteus Fitch, 1851
Clastoptera proteus seminuda Ball, 1927
Clastoptera querci Thompson, Halbert & Rothschild, 2020
Clastoptera saintcyri Provancher, 1872
Clastoptera salicis Doering, 1926
Clastoptera sierra Doering, 1929
Clastoptera siskiyou Doering, 1929
Clastoptera testacea Fitch, 1851
Clastoptera texana Doering, 1929
Clastoptera tricincta Doering, 1929
Clastoptera undulata undulata Uhler, 1864
Clastoptera uniformia Doering, 1929
Clastoptera xanthocephala Germar, 1839
Comparison of Clastoptera species (lateral+dorsal habitus where available) organized by morphologically similar species (based on personal observations of Solomon Hendrix and Kyle Kittelberger as well as correspondence with Vinton Thompson):

Clastoptera lineatocollis-complex
Many of these species are exceptionally difficult to separate from one another without dissection. Identification often requires a view of the face. Males are usually dark while females are pale, but this is not the case for all species in the group. The group itself is highly distinctive—species are pale with many dark streaks or are almost entirely black. This species complex is confined to the western U.S. and Canada, as well as Texas and northern Mexico.

Clastoptera atrapicata Hamilton, 1977
♂ [no photos] ♀

♂ [no photos] ♀ [no photos]

Clastoptera delicata Uhler, 1876 — both males and females of this species are pale; the only species in the complex with pale males.

♀ [no photos]

♂ [no photos] ♀

Clastoptera sierra Doering, 1929 — both males and females of this species are dark; the only species in the complex with dark females.
♀ [no photos]

Clastoptera proteus-group
Members of this group are usually quite distinctive, consisting of dark species with bright yellow markings. This group is closely allied to the lineatocollis-complex. Some all-black males may be superficially more difficult to distinguish from the previous group. These species are usually specialists.

Clastoptera hyperici McAtee, 1920 — both males and females of this species are all-black.

Clastoptera proteus Fitch, 1851 Dogwood Spittlebug — distinctive, but with pale color variant.

Clastoptera saintcyri Provancher, 1872 Heath Spittlebug — with marked and unmarked forms.

Clastoptera salicis Doering, 1926 — exceedingly rare and distinctive species, mostly confined to the central states.

Clastoptera testacea-group
Only two species, one western (C. osborni) and one eastern (C. testacea). Generally pale in coloration—C. osborni is variable, but males and females are generally both the same pale color. C. testacea is incredibly sexually dimorphic; males are similarly colored to the C. proteus-group, while females are pale.

Clastoptera osborni Gillette & Baker, 1895

Clastoptera arborina-group
These similarly-marked species are almost exclusive to coniferous plants and a number are specialists. Only one species is present in the eastern U.S. and Canada—C. arborina. The rest are western in distribution. The western species can be quite difficult to separate. There is apparently an undescribed species present in British Colombia and possibly additional undescribed species in the western U.S.

Clastoptera arborina Ball, 1927 Red Cedar Spittlebug

Clastoptera doeringae Hamilton, 1978 Mountain-juniper Spittlebug

Clastoptera juniperina Ball, 1919 Juniper Spittlebug

Clastoptera media Doering, 1929

Clastoptera mineralis Thompson, 2023 — rather distinctive compared to the rest of the group; the only species in the genus that creates mineral-encrusted spittle masses.

Clastoptera texana Doering, 1929

Clastoptera obtusa-group
This group includes the highly polyphagous and exceptionally common species C. obtusa as well as a number of western lookalikes. Similar to the C. arborina-group. Some of these species are only distinguishable through the dissection of a female. There is a fair degree of variation of the color pattern in all of these species.

Clastoptera elongata Doering, 1929 — distinguishable from C. pallidocephala only through dissection.

Clastoptera obtusa (Say, 1825) Alder Spittlebug — widespread in the eastern U.S.+Canada; highly polyphagous on woody plants. Identical to the western C. ovata and C. siskiyou.

Clastoptera ovata Doering, 1929 — widespread western species; distinguishable from C. siskiyou only through dissection.

Clastoptera pallidocephala Doering, 1929 — distinguishable from C. elongata only through dissection.

Clastoptera siskiyou Doering, 1929 — distinguishable from C. ovata only through dissection.

Clastoptera tricincta Doering, 1929 — probably distinguishable from C. ovata, C. siskiyou, and C. obtusa only through dissection.

Clastoptera lawsoni-group
This group is much less uniform in characters than the others, but these species are easily grouped in that they have wing markings similar to the aborina/obtusa groups, but instead of the usual transverse band markings of the vertex and pronotum, the posterior transverse band of the pronotum is divided in half into "eyebrow" shapes and the anterior transverse band of the pronotum is broken up into spots. The usual transverse band of the vertex is also broken up into spots.

Clastoptera laevigata Hamilton, 2015 — a highly distinctive specialist of Celtis.

Clastoptera lawsoni Doering, 1929

Clastoptera octonotata Hamilton, 2015

Clastoptera undulata Uhler, 1864 Casuarina Spittlebug — a neotropical species that reaches into southern Florida.

Other species
These species do not fit neatly into any of the aforementioned groups.

Clastoptera achatina Germar, 1839 Pecan Spittlebug — a highly distinctive eastern species.

Clastoptera arizonana Doering, 1929 — similar in some respects to the C. obtusa-group, but highly distinctive in form and pattern.

Clastoptera canyonensia Doering, 1929 — an exceptionally rare and distinctive species.

Clastoptera distincta Doering, 1929 Dwarf Mistletoe Spittlebug — a highly distinctive southwestern species with a number of color morphs.

Clastoptera globosa Fowler, 1897 — a distinctive Mexican species that occurs in southernmost Texas and perhaps the southwest; has two color forms.

Clastoptera querci Thompson, Halbert & Rothschild, 2020 — a recent introduction of unknown origin to Florida, common on oaks.

Clastoptera uniformia Doering, 1929

Clastoptera xanthocephala Germar, 1839 Sunflower Spittlebug — a distinctive and polyphagous species on herbaceous/asteraceous vegetation; widespread and common in the eastern U.S.

Notable unknown and potentially undescribed species

Unknown California Species No. 2 — a likely undescribed and highly distinctive species from southern California.

Unknown Arizona Species — a potentially undescribed species from Arizona
Provisional groupings (lineatocollis group, obtusa group, and proteus group) were erected by Andy Hamilton to organize the taxa under the original names before of the species were split up (e.g., the obtusa group includers whatever was once called obtusa). While the lineatocollis group appears to be a valid species complex, the obtusa and proteus groups seem more arbitrary especially as more species are being described showing the genus is more complex than these three groupings.
For the purpose of organization, we have made provisional species complexes to house groups of species which are difficult, if not impossible, to separate from each other through photos alone. The arborina, obtusa, and querci complexes are not published taxonomic groups. We have included the published lineatocollis group here since many of those species cannot readily be differentiated.
Species listed as undescribed are likely undescribed, but their status is not certain, save for the Louisiana querci-complex species.
Print References
Doering K.C. (1928) The genus Clastoptera in America north of Mexico. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 18(1): 11–153. (Full text)
Nguyen T.C., Rightmyer M.G., Engel M.S. (2001) On the identity of the spittlebug Clastoptera lawsoni Doering (Homoptera: Cercopidae). J. Kans. Ent. Soc. 74: 237–242.
Thompson V., Halbert S.E., Rothschild M. (2020) A new species of the spittlebug genus Clastoptera Germar (Hemiptera: Cercopoidea: Clastopteridae) on Florida oaks. Insecta Mundi 0796: 1–16.
Wheeler A.G., Kramer J.P. (1983) Clastoptera laenata, first eastern United States records and first U.S. host association (Homoptera: Cercopidae). Proc. Ent. Soc. Wash. 85: 55–58.