Cuerna yuccae Oman & Beamer 1944b: 121

Yucca sharpshooter

Published in: Oman, P.W. & Beamer, R.H. (1944b) Some new species of Cuerna (Homoptera-Cicadellidae). Jour. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 17, 121–128.

Description & Identification

Medium size, slightly robust species. male 6.2—7.5 mm., female 7.2—8.0 mm. (Nielson, 1968) General color reddish gray to black with distinct yellow or ivory band running laterally from anterior margin of head to eighth tergum; head, pronotum, and scutellum with numerous yellow and black markings. (Nielson, 1968)Pygofer in lateral aspect about 1½ times longer than wide, caudal margin convex; aedeagus in lateral aspect excluding atrial processes about 1% times longer than wide, shaft recurved with prominent tooth on each side of middle in caudal aspect; lateral atrial processes strongly recurved, projecting posteroventrad or caudad beyond caudal margin of atrium, broader than caudal atrial processes, recurved part below or just reaching apex of aedeagal shaft; caudal atrial processes long, narrow, nearly straight, slightly curved basally, projecting dorsad beyond apex of aedeagal shaft, usually crossing over in caudal aspect; female eighth sternum in dorsal aspect With two symmetrical triangular plates about one-half length of seventh tergum; each plate with anterior margin narrow, lateral margin strongly divergent, caudal margin broad, sinuate, nearly truncate, laterocaudal margin produced slightly posteriorly to narrow apices. (Nielson, 1968)This species, similar to costalis in male genital characteristics, can be separated by the female eighth sternum with its two triangular shape plates and its geographical distribution.(Nielson 1968)

Biology & Ecology

The primary host is the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia Engebm.). The only other plants on which the vector is known to feed are grape and alfalfa, which were used in virus transmission tests (Freitag et al. 1952) [287]. It presumably lives and breeds on the Joshua tree and migrates to other favorable plants for feeding. It is not common in alfalfa fields or grape vineyards. (Nielson, 1968)


Oman & Beamer 1944b: 121

Common Names (full list)

Yucca sharpshooter
Source: Catalogue of Life Checklist

Additional Images

Images provided by GBIF data providers. We cannot verify that identifications are correct.

Worldwide Distribution

United States:Arizona,California,Nevada,Utah (Nielson 1965a).It is known only from the Western United States. Localities recorded by Nielson in 1965 (563) were Arizona: Alamo, Congress Junction; California: Antelope Valley, Apple Valley, Cajon Pass, Ivanpah, Palmdale, San Gabriel Mountains, Victorville; Nevada: Glendale, Las Vegas; and Utah: Leeds, St. George. (Nielson,1968)

North America

Distribution point data provided by GBIF.

Vector Status

Economic Crops


This species is a vector of Pierce’s disease virus of grape in California. Transmission of this virus was accomplished by feeding the insects infected grape and alfalfa for 1 or 2 days, then transferring them to healthy grape and alfalfa plants for 2 to 10 days (Freitag et al.) [1952]. Only 25-percent transmission occurred, indicating that the species was not an efficient vector of Pierce’s disease virus. In 1954, Freitag and Frazier [286] reported this species to be naturally infective after testing over 1,500 individuals collected from the Mohave Desert in California. Only 6.2 percent of 48 lots tested were infective.(Nielson 1968)The importance of this species is considered incidental in view of its outside host association and low transmission of the virus.(Nielson 1968)

Plant Diseases


Nielson, M. W. 1968b. The leafhopper vectors of phytopathogenic viruses (Homoptera, Cicadellidae). Taxonomy, biology and virus transmission.

Redak et. al., 2004.

The Biology of Xylem Fluid-Feeding Insect Vectors Of Xylella fastidiosa and Their Relation to Disease Epidemiology


Redak et. al., 2004.

The Biology of Xylem Fluid-Feeding Insect Vectors Of Xylella fastidiosa and Their Relation to Disease Epidemiology


Cicadellidae Cicadellinae Cuerna Grape Membracoidea North America Other Proconiini Alfalfa dwarf disease (AD) Pierce's disease Xylella fastidiosa

Cuerna yuccae Oman & Beamer 1944b: 121: Wilson M. R. & Turner J. A. 2021. Insect Vectors of Plant Disease. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. Available online at [ Accessed:  28/06/2022 ].
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