Fulgoroidea (planthoppers, Fig. 4) differ from other Auchenorrhyncha in having the frons occupying most of the facial part of the head and usually with distinct longitudinal carinae, tegulae usually present at the base of the forewings, the second segment (pedicel) of the antenna enlarged and (usually) bearing conspicuous placoid sensilla, the forewing anal veins confluent basad of the claval margin, and longitudinal carinae usually present on the head, pronotum, scutellum, and legs. Most have two ocelli dorsolaterally on the head, anterad of the compound eyes, but some Cixiidae also have a medial ocellus on the face. Fulgoroidea first appear in the fossil record in the middle Permian, and Cixiidae appear in the Jurassic. Other modern fulgoroid families apparently arose during the Cretaceous or early Tertiary. Twenty families are currently recognized, comprising approximately 1400 genera and 12,000 species. Fulgoroid families are distinguished from each other based mainly on the shape of the head, the spination of the hind tarsi, and the venation of the forewing. Fulgoroidea are the most morphologically variable of all auchenorrhynchan superfamilies, ranging from 1 mm to over 9 cm in length and exhibiting extensive variation in head shape, wing venation, and genital morphology.

Unlike Cicadomorphans, nymphs of Fulgoroidea apparently do not coat themselves with specialized Malpighian tubule secretions. Instead, they produce wax from specialized glands on the abdominal terga and other parts of the body. The wax forms a hydrophobic coating and may conceal some insects from predators. Adult females of many fulgoroid families also produce wax, with which they coat their eggs [Fig. 4(16)]. In certain tropical fulgoroid species, adults of both sexes produce strands of wax up to 75 cm in length. Aggregation behavior with or without ant mutualism has been documented for nymphs and adults in a few fulgoroid families, but egg guarding is known only in Tettigometridae.

In contrast to the ecologically similar Cicadoidea, the Fulgoroidea are the most ecologically diverse superfamily of Auchenorrhyncha. Nymphs of Derbidae and Achilidae live under bark or in litter, feeding on fungi, while nymphs of Cixiidae, Hypochthonellidae, and Kinnaridae are subterranean root feeders. At least four families include cavernicolous (cave-dwelling) species. Ant mutualism has been documented in several fulgoroid families and seems to occur universally among Tettigometridae [Fig. 4(20)], nymphs of which usually inhabit ant nests. Nymphs of most remaining families and nearly all adults feed on the aboveground parts of vascular plants and most seem to be host specialists. Planthopper species usually feed on woody dicotyledonous plants, but most Delphacidae are grass or sedge specialists. Several species of Delphacidae feed on emergent plants in marshes and are capable of walking on the surface of the water. Delphacidae primarily inhabit temperate and tropical grasslands, and diverse faunas of Issidae, Dictyopharidae (Orgeriinae), and Tettigometridae occur in deserts.

Fulgoroidea occur throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world but are most diverse in the tropics. The Old World tropics harbor the greatest numbers of described families, genera, and species, but the neotropical fauna is less well studied and may be comparable in diversity. The holarctic fauna is rich in Delphacidae and Issidae, but most other families are poorly represented or absent. Tettigometridae,

Ricaniidae, Gengidae, Hypochthonellidae, and Meenoplidae are apparently restricted to the Old World. Some genera, particularly in Cixiidae and Delphacidae, are also cosmopolitan in distribution, but most appear to be restricted to a single biogeographic realm.

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