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For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura)



Red-tailed Leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura), Endangered in Wisconsin, inhabits dry to wet-mesic prairies with the host plant, prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis).

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Aflexia rubranura in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2?
Global RankG2
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).

Identification: A flightless insect, less than 4.0 mm in length, with pale yellowish coloration accented by a series of dark, transverse bands across the head and pronotum in a brick-like pattern. About 10% of early flight females have wings. The male has two red spots near the tail, thus the name red-tailed leafhopper. Found by vigorous sweep netting of the host plant.

Habitat: Inhabitants of dry to wet-mesic prairies with the host plant, prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), the species appears to be absent from prairies in southwestern Wisconsin.

State Distribution: Occurs in Dane, Fond du Lac Iowa, Green Lake, Jefferson, Kenosha, Monroe, Sauk, Walworth, and Waukesha Counties of Wisconsin.

Phenology: The leafhopper is specific to prairie dropseed, on which it lives and feeds. Bivoltine (2 generations) in southeastern Wisconsin, adults of the first generation are present from mid-June to mid-July, and the second generation of adults is present late August through September. In northwestern Wisconsin, the species is univoltine with adults during late July to mid-August. Females deposit eggs into the grass tissue. Newly hatched nymphs resemble adults and mature through several stages changing in size and proportion. It is unclear where on the plants the adults and nymphs are usually located. Apparently, eggs overwinter in stems of the dropseed plants.

Management Guidelines: Red-tailed leafhopper populations appear to recover slowly after fire, taking the populations 2-4 years to rebound. Univoltine populations are slower to recover. The leafhoppers have been found to survive on burned sites in very low numbers and recovery is largely by migration from unburned areas. As a flightless insect, the leafhopper travels slowly from unburned areas and such refugia must include enough prairie dropseed to sustain the population. Grazing reduces prairie dropseed. Mowing seems to have little effect on leafhopper populations and can be useful to remove woody plants encroaching on the prairie but does not remove the thatch buildup that eventually reduces prairie dropseed.



Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper

Photo © Eric Maurer.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper. Only natural communities for which Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Red-tailed Prairie Leafhopper occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020