Genus Shellenius Ball, 1928

[Back to North American Derbidae]

Family Derbidae Spinola, 1839

Subfamily Otiocerinae Muir, 1917

Tribe Otiocerini Muir, 1917

Genus Shellenius Ball, 1928
Type species (in original combination): Otiocerus ballii McAtee 1923.



Widespread in US and Central America.

Distribution of Shellenius from FLOW (as of 20 June 2017)
Recognized species

There are 5 species recognized in Shellenius as follows [See Metcalf 1945: 185]:

  1. Shellenius ballii (McAtee, 1923: 45) – USA: FL, IL, LA, MD, MS, OH, TN; CAN: ON (Bugguide adds Quebec and South Carolina)
  2. Shellenius gracilior (Fowler, 1904: 76) – Guatemala
  3. Shellenius griseus (Fowler, 1904: 75) – Mexico (Guerrero)
  4. Shellenius montanus (Fowler, 1904: 74) – Mexico (Guerrero), Panama
  5. Shellenius schellenbergii (Kirby, 1821: 18) – USA: AZ, FL, GA, IL, LA, MO, MS, NJ, NY, OH (Bugguide adds AL, WV)
Economic Importance:

Limited – species are seldom encountered.

Plant associations:

Derbidae are known or assumed to feed on fungal hyphae as immatures.  The significance of adult host associations are unclear. Hosts from Wilson et al. 1994 (also check FLOW, although no additional hosts as of 20 June 2017); plant names from USDA PLANTS or Tropicos.

  • Shellenius ballii – Acer (maple, Aceraceae), Carpinus caroliniana Walter (American hornbeam, Betulaceae), Sabal palmetto (Walter) Lodd. ex Schult. & Schult. f. (cabbage palmetto, Arecaceae), Fraxinus (ash, Oleaceae)
  • Shellenius schellenbergii – AcerCarpinus carolinianaSabal palmettoFraxinus (“on ash” in Spooner 1937)

Pale, fragile forms; wings greatly exceeding the abdomen (forewings rater narrow); frons extremely compressed, head strongly projecting; pustules along claval vein; clavus open, antennae with appendages; antennae with appendages; in lateral view, head projecting in front of eyes for a distance greater than width of eyes (vs. Anotia), dorsal and ventral margins approximately straight, rounded at apex (vs. OtiocerusApache).

After review of McAtee (1923), it appears that I have had these two species backwards, something Lois O’Brien tried to tell me (consequently, they may be backwards in Bartlett et al. 2011).  Have corrected that below.

Description of S. schellenbergii from Kirby 1821: 18:

Schellenbergii. 7. O. pallidus, capite sanguineo, elytris absque vasis roseis.

Long. corp. lin. 2.
Expans. alar. lin. 7-1/4

Corpus pallidum. Caput oblongum, sanguineum : rostro obtusion vix ascendenti ; carinis superioribus approximatis niveis,inferioribus

McAtee (1923) In his key (to Otiocerus), characterized schellenbergii as ‘without distinct red or dark markings other than veins, [tegmina] lutescent, veins red’ and balli as ‘with distinct red or dark markings other than veins; with dark markings (sometimes red also); markings extensive, ‘cheifly’ in the form of spots; spots irregular in shape, aggregated, covering most of tegmen except clavus’

Shellenius balli
Shellenius balli
Shellenius balli
Shellenius balli (From BOLD, cnc#hem_405809+1346257068)


Shellenius schellenbergii
Shellenius schellenbergii (photographs by Kimberley Shropshire, University of Delaware)
Shellenius schellenbergii
Shellenius schellenbergii
SHELLENIUS schellenbergii
Shellenius schellenbergii









Shellenius schellenbergii
Shellenius schellenbergii
Shellenius montanus and S. griseus
Shellenius montanus and S. griseus from Fowler, 1904
Shellenius gracilior Fowler 1904
Shellenius gracilior Fowler 1904 (from Fowler, 1904)

Online resources

Discover Life.
Hoppers of North Carolina. (N/A)
Kunzweb Gallery. (Link to family)
American Insects. (Link to family)


Found infrequently.

Molecular resources: 

As of this writing (12 Oct. 2018), there are appears to be no molecular data for this genus on Genbank; Barcode of Life has data for Shellenius balli.

Selected references:

Ball, E. D. 1928. Some new genera and species of N. A. Derbidae with notes on others (Fulgoridae). Canadian Entomologist 60: 196-201.

Bartlett, C. R., E. R. Adams and A. T. Gonzon. 2011. Planthoppers of Delaware (Hemiptera, Fulgoroidea), excluding Delphacidae, with species incidence from adjacent States. ZooKeys 83: 1-42.

Bartlett, C. R., L. B. O’Brien and S. W. Wilson. 2014. A review of the planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) of the United States. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 50: 1-287.

Dozier, H. L. 1928a [dated 1922 or 1926]. The Fulgoridae or planthoppers of Mississippi, including those of possible occurrence. Technical Bulletin of the Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station 14: 1-152.

Fennah, R. G. 1952. On the generic classification of Derbidae (Fulgoroidea), with descriptions of new Neotropical species. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 103(4): 109-170.

Fowler, W. W. 1904. Order Rhynchota. Suborder Hemiptera-Homoptera. (Continued). Biologia Centrali-Americana 1: 57-76, 77-84.

Gonzon, A. T., Jr., C. R. Bartlett and J. L. Bowman. 2007 (dated 2006). Planthopper (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) diversity in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 132: 243-260.

Kirby, W. F. 1821. The characters of Otiocerus and Anotia, two new genera of Hemipterous insects belonging to the family of Cicadiadae : with a description of several species. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London (Second series) Zoology 13: 12-23.

McAtee, W. L. 1923a. A new species of Otiocerus (Homoptera; Fulgoridae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 36: 45-48.

Metcalf, Z. P. 1923. A key to the Fulgoridae of eastern North America with descriptions of new species. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 38(3): 139-230, plus 32 plates. [available from]

Metcalf, Z. P. 1938a. The Fulgorina of Barro Colorado and other parts of Panama. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard College 82: 277-423.(Key to genus of Otiocerinae)

Metcalf, Z. P. 1945. General Catalogue of the Hemiptera. Fascicle IV, Fulgoroidea, Part 4, Derbidae. Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts.

Muir, F. A. G. 1917. The Derbidae of the Philippine Islands. Philippine Journal of Science 12: 49-105.

Paiero, S. M., S. A. Marshall and K.G.A. Hamilton. 2003. New records of Hemiptera from Canada and Ontario. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 134: 115-129.

Spinola, M. 1839a. Essai sur les Fulgorelles, sous-tribu de la tribu des Cicadaires, ordre des Rhyngotes. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 8: 133-337.

Spooner, C. S. 1937. Derbid field days. Papers presented in the thirtieth annual meeting, Rockford, Illinois, May 7 and 8, 1937 (papers in Zoology). Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 30(2): 315-316.

Wilson, S. W. and J. E. McPherson. 1980a. Keys to the planthoppers, or Fulgoroidea, of Illinois (Homoptera). Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science 73(2): 1‑61.

Wilson, S. W. and J. E. McPherson. 1980b. The distribution of the Fulgoroidea of the eastern United States (Homoptera). Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science 73(4): 7‑20.

Wilson, S. W. and J. E. McPherson. 1980c. A list of the Fulgoroidea (Homoptera) of southern Illinois. Great Lakes Entomologist 13(1): 25-30.

Wilson, S. W., C. Mitter, R. F. Denno and M. R. Wilson.1994. Evolutionary patterns of host plant use by delphacid planthoppers and their relatives. In: R. F. Denno and T. J. Perfect, (eds.). Planthoppers: Their Ecology and Management. Chapman and Hall, New York. Pp. 7-45 & Appendix