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Balclutha rubrostriata

Invasive Red-streaked Leafhopper

Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Cicadellidae

Photographer: Ed Johnson


Adult Description: Leafhoppers of the genus Balclutha are generally small (3-4 mm), slender-bodied, pale or yellow-green in color. Balclutha rubrostriata can be identified by red or brown pigmentation along the forewing accompanied with straw colored forewing veins.

Larva Description: Overall pigmentation of nymphs may range from light to dark coloration. The nymph's body is straw-like in color with lightly pigmented brown or red stripes next to the eyes. Darker brown or red pigmentation in the form of lateral stripes can be found at the base of the antennae, legs, and abdomen.

Host Plant: Grasses and sugar cane

Ecological Threat: While not much is known about Balclutha rubrostriata, scientists have been able to postulate their potential threat based upon other Balclutha species. It has been noted that other Balclutha species are able to distribute themselves over great distances. In fact, distributive ability, coupled with the advantage of dominating areas of high-densities could result in the IRSL becoming problematic in the United States.

Biology: The Invasive Red-streaked Leafhopper (IRSL) is a tropical species that feeds primarily on grasses. Due to the ideal habitat in the southern United States, it is very possible for the leafhopper to become established in those areas. Further, there is some concern that the IRSL will disrupt invertebrate grassland communities in light of the sheer dominance in Bexar County as noted by Zahniser et al. 2010.

History: Zahniser et al. 2010 noted that while sampling a site in Bexar County, Texas, they found 85% of all insects gathered were the Invasive Red-streaked Leafhopper, Balclutha rubrostriata. Upon further research, the authors noted that they found evidence of B. rubrostriata invasion in other parts of Texas, Florida, and Hawaii.

Details are still vague as to how the leafhopper entered the United States, where it entered, and exactly when the first invasion occurred. Zahniser et al. 2010 also surmised that the leafhopper is probably well-established in Texas and has the potential to spread rapidly along the southern states.

U.S. Habitat: Grasslands


Native Origin: Old World

U.S. Present: Currently the Invasive Red-streaked Leafhopper has been sighted in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas.


Zahniser et al. 2010 stated that they found a high abundance of IRSLs in Bexar County. They hypothesized that theis insect has spread to other counties within Texas, and possibly in other states as well.



Resembles other leafhoppers. Only one other species in the genus Balclutha has red or brown dorsal stripes in the New World (Balclutha rosacea). The B. rosacea species has dark red forewing veins while the B. rubrostriata species has straw colored forewing veins.


Information on the ability to manage the Invasive Red-streaked Leafhopper is still in its infancy. At present, the only options appear to be use of chemical pesticides used for other leafhoppers.


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Text References

Zahniser, J.N., Taylor, S.J., and J.K. Krecja. 2010. First reports of the invasive grass-feeding leafhopper Balclutha rubrostriata (Melichar) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) in the United States. Entomological News, 121:132-138.

Internet Sources:

Data Source

Last Updated: 2011-09-13 by Amber Bartelt - Sam Houston State University