Plants and Animals

Lepyronia gibbosa Great Plains spittlebug

Key Characteristics

Adult Great plains spittlebugs are small (males 6.9 - 7.2 mm, females 8.2 - 9.6 mm) tawny colored insects. Their body is covered with fine gray hairs and the forewings usually have dark brown V-shaped marks that form a triangle. Their hind tibia, used only for jumping, have two spurs on the outer edge and two rows of flared black-tipped spines at the end. The nymphs have not been described and may be subterranean.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Lake 10 2006
Mason 3 2001
Montcalm 1 2002
Muskegon 11 2014
Newaygo 16 2011
Oceana 10 2022
Van Buren 2 2008

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Great plains spittlebug may also be found in old fields, right-of-ways, and forest openings if their host plants (prairie grasses) are there. They are found locally at drier sites with sandy or gravelly well drained areas.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Avoid local population extinction by conducting prescribed burns over a portion of the available habitat on a rotation and limit the intensity of the burn to allow the host plants to regenerate. Burns should be conducted outside the active period. ORV trails should be directed around active sites.

Active Period

Active from fourth week of April to third week of October

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for adults of this species is to use a standard insect sweep net in suitable habitat. Several sweep samples may be needed to detect them in an area because the they occupy small areas within available habitat. Surveys should be conducted when the dew is off the grasses and the wind is low. Surveying for nymphs is not productive and may be destructive.

Sweep net

Survey Period: From third week of July to fourth week of September

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Borror, D.J. and R.E. White. 1970. A Field Guide to the Insects of North America and Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 404pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Hamilton, K.G.A. 1982. The spittlebugs of Canada. Homoptera: Cercopidae. The insects and arachnids of Canada, Part 10. Biosystems Research Institute, Ottawa. 102pp.