Neophilaenus longiceps (Puton, 1895)
Description & Identification
Adults are typically 6 – 7mm long; females are somewhat larger than males.
As with all froghoppers, they have two stout spines on the outer edge of the hind tibiae, as well as several smaller spines at the tip. Nymphs are typically pale yellow in colour with distinctive dark patches on the wing buds.
Neophilaenus species can be distinguished as adults from Philaenus spumarius by the more parallel outer edges of the wings when viewed from above (as opposed to the more convex outline of P. spumarius) and their overall pattern of markings. They are much smaller than Aphrophora species.
The taxonomic status of Neophilaenus longiceps as a separate species from N. lineatus is uncertain; it may be simply a saltmarsh race of N. lineatus. Its appearance is very similar but it can be distinguished by the dimensions of the central 'plate' on the top of the head (wider than long in N. longiceps compared to longer than wide in N. lineatus). N. longiceps is also slightly larger.
(Harkin & Stewart 2019)
Biology & Ecology
Neophilaenus longiceps is restricted to saltmarshes in south east England, where it favours grasses rather than herbaceous or woody plants. Females lay eggs singly or in groups in the autumn. On emergence the following spring, nymphs begin producing the characteristic spittle ‘nests’ which provide protection against predators and desiccation. Spittle can be seen from April to late June. The nymph moults five times within the spittle before emerging as a free-living adult. Adults can be found from June to September. (Harkin & Stewart 2019)
Ptyelus longiceps Puton, 1895
UK Status: Present
Froghopper with very local distribution, confined to coastal saltmarshes in south east England.
As with all froghoppers, N. longiceps feeds on the liquid contents of the xylem vessels of its host plant. As such, it is a potential vector of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa which has caused the death of many olive trees in southern Europe, although this disease has not been detected in the UK. (Harkin & Stewart 2019)