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Superfamily Cercopoidea - Spittlebugs

Alder Spittlebug - Clastoptera obtusa Philaenus spumarius - ventral - Philaenus spumarius Cercopidae - Philaenus spumarius Prosapia - Prosapia bicincta insect - Clastoptera Philaenus spumarius Spittlebug - Clastoptera species? - Clastoptera obtusa Spittlebug - 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
Superfamily Cercopoidea (Spittlebugs)
Explanation of Names
Cercopoidea (Leach, 1815)
~70 spp. in 9 genera of 3 families in our area, ~2,600 spp. in >360 genera of 5 extant families worldwide(1)
Aphrophoridae (Amyot & Serville, 1843): cosmopolitan
Cercopidae (Leach, 1815): cosmopolitan
Clastopteridae (Stål, 1858): new world and indomalayan
Epipygidae (Hamilton, 2001): neotropical
Machaerotidae (Stål, 1866): indomalayan, australasian, afrotropical
There are currently at least 3 extinct families
†Cercopionidae (Hamilton, 1990)
†Procercopidae (Handlirsch, 1906)
†Sinoalidae (Bo & Szwedo, 2012)
one or two stout spines on the hind tibiae, and a circlet of spines at the apex
worldwide, much more diverse in the tropics(2)
The internal phylogeny of this group is a source of great contention, though it has been confidently resolved as monophyletic in relation to the other extant superfamilies of Cicadomorpha. The relationships of the five described families are still largely unclear despite this group being visited in phylogenic/genetic analyses numerous times over the years. The latest analysis by Skinner, et. al. (2019) has revealed that the family Aphrophoridae is polyphyletic if the other families are to remain: "Our analyses consistently placed one included aphrophorid (Aphrophora) as sister to Epipygidae and the other (Philaenus) as sister to Cercopidae (sensu stricto)."
Different authors treat the family classification within Cercopoidea differently. Hamilton (2001, 2015) recognises three families rendering Aphrophoridae a jr. synonym of Cercopidae and Machaerotidae a junior synonym of Clastopteridae. Some even propose that all of Cercopoidea belongs to a single extant family, Cercopidae. However, the general consensus is that there are five recognised families: Aphrophoridae, Cercopidae, Clastopteridae, Epipygidae, and Machaerotidae. This five family system is not stable and the group is pending further analysis, but it is currently the clearest way to illustrate the relationships between different lineages in the superfamily. Given current analysis by Skinner, et. al. (2019) it seems likely that Epipygidae is a specialised lineage of Aphrophoridae as the family was resolved as sister to Aphrophora though this is pending further analysis.
The relationships of Clastopteridae and Machaerotidae in relation to the other Cercopoids are not very clear. Most recent analysis places Clastopteridae as sister to Aphrophoridae and Cercopidae, challenging prior hypotheses (Emelyanov, 1987) that the family was derived from within either of those taxa. In the past it has been proposed that Machaerotidae is derived from within the Clastopteridae, but it has been shown that Machaerotidae seems to be a distinct lineage sister to other members of Cercopoidea. Analysis including more representatives of Cercopoidea will be needed to sort out the higher taxonomy of this superfamily in the future as it is deemed "relatively unstable" by Skinner, et. al.
- Solomon Hendrix
See Also
Leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) have 1-2 rows of spines on the hind tibiae (none in spittlebugs)