Red-banded Leafhopper – Graphocephala coccinea

Red-banded Leafhopper – Graphocephala coccinea
Family Cicadellidae
– Leafhoppers
Bugs Main | Bugs Index | Assassin Bugs | Plant Bugs | Ambush Bugs
Live adult leafhoppers photographed at DuPage County, Illinois. Size: 8.5mm
Red-banded Leafhopper - Graphocephala coccinea

"Sharpshooter" is one common name for the leafhopper subfamily Cicadellinae, which includes Paraulacizes, Oncometopia, Cuerna, Draeculacephala, Graphocephala and many other genera. They get this name from their habit of feeding on the watery sap of xylem tissue, which conducts moisture from the roots up to the leaves. Excess water droplets are forced out the tip of the abdomen with an audible popping noise, hence the common name. See figure 1. [1]

The red-banded leafhopper is widely distributed in North and Central America, from Canada south to Panama. [3]

millimeter scale

G. coccinea has been identified as one of several leafhopper vectors of a leaf scorch known as Pierce's disease, caused by the gammaproteobacteria Xylella fastidiosa. It is responsible for the decline of certain woody plants such as elm, oak, and other ornamental trees. According to the United States National Arboretum, "An understanding of the transmission of this bacterium by insect vectors is economically important because there is neither any known effective therapy for infected trees and shrubs nor a strategy for preventing infection." [4]

Silver Leafhopper, Athysanus argentarius
Silver Leafhopper, Athysanus argentarius  with "sharpshooter" popping butt bubble

  1., Subfamily Cicadellinae
  2. Insects of Cedar Creek: Graphocephala coccinea
  3. USDA, ARS, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Leafhoppers
  4. Dr. Jo-Ann Bentz, United States National Arboretum, Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit, Management of Insect Pests of Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Order Hemiptera: True Bugs number almost 5,000 species in North America, and 40,000 worldwide. They have mouthparts formed into a beak, adapted for sucking plant juices or the liquefied insides of their animal prey.
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha – Cicadas & Planthoppers
Suborder Sternorrhyncha – Aphids, scales, mealybugs, jumping plant lice