Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Metcalfa pruinosa
(frosted moth-bug)



Metcalfa pruinosa (frosted moth-bug)


  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Metcalfa pruinosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • frosted moth-bug
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Metcalfa pruinosa (Say)

Preferred Common Name

  • frosted moth-bug

Other Scientific Names

  • Ormenis pruinosa (Say)

International Common Names

  • English: citrus flatid plant hopper; Citrus planthopper; frosted lightening hopper (USA); mealy lantern fly (USA); moth bug

EPPO code

  • METFPR (Metcalfa pruinosa)
  • ORMEPR (Ormenis pruinosa)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Family: Flatidae
  •                             Genus: Metcalfa
  •                                 Species: Metcalfa pruinosa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The trivial name of this distinctive insect has been stable for over 160 years. Usually placed in the genus Ormenis, it was transferred to Metcalfa by Caldwell and Martorell (1951). The tentative synonymy with the Brazilian M. farinosa (Walker) by Van Duzee (1917) seems unlikely to be accurate.

One of the common names applied to this insect is 'frosted lightening hopper' (Stene, 1908). The curious name 'lightening hopper' (or 'lightning hopper' see Chittenden, 1900) apparently derives from the term 'lanternfly' for the type-species of the family, Fulgora laternaria (L.), which was thought to have a luminescent head process. The modern common name for Fulgoroidea is 'planthopper' and the common name for the family to which Metcalfa belongs (Flatidae) is 'moth-bug'. Hence, the recommended common name, modernized from Stene, would be 'frosted moth-bug'.


Top of page Adult rather robust with large mothlike wings; 1.5-1.7 mm across eyes, body exclusive of wings 5.0-5.5 mm long, including wings 7.2-8.8 mm long. All except eyes and tarsi covered with waxy pubescence, which together with the bluish black colour of the dorsum gives a pruinose purple colour like that of a ripe plum; venter and two stripes on fore wings (costal margin and claval suture) contrastingly tan.

Crown of head very short, flat both on upper and anterior surfaces between prominent lateral carinae; coronal margin rounding to face; face nearly flat, as long as broad, sides bowed, median carina obscure; clypellus tapered to apex; gena and antennae below eyes, on sides of head; thorax distinctly wider than head across eyes, tegula standing straight out from thorax; pronotum short, a quarter as long as mesonotum, strongly emarginate on caudal edge, mesonotum thus extending forwards to between eyes (Metcalf, 1923); fore wings leaflike, apices expanded and subtruncate, very broad (2.3 times as long as wide across tips, 2.6 times as long as wide at midlength), with numerous veins forming many narrow, unaligned discal and anteapical cells, and close-set costal crossveins forming continuous series with well-defined row of more than 15 apical cells which in turn may be divided by veinal furcations (Metcalf and Bruner, 1948); appendix absent; hind tibia 1.5 times as long as in other legs, bearing a few scattered black-tipped spines towards tip on lateral ridges, and a pecten of 5-7 black-tipped spines at tip; hind tarsi with pecten of 7-8 spines on lower surface of basal segment and only two on slightly shorter second segment.

Female with ovipositor short, upturned between lobes of pygofers; pygofer lobes armed with 5 pairs of strong, sharp, inturned teeth like leaves of Venus flytrap. Male pygofer and subgenital plates not differentiated from ringlike segment IX; anal tube short, with elongate tonguelike process (grooved on midline) above lower angle; styles held vertically, in ventral aspect slender, slightly divergent near tips, in lateral aspect broadening towards tips, bearing recurved hook beyond tip of aedeagus, setose, articulated against undifferentiated sternite IX; connective linear; aedeagus curved dorsad, parallel-margined to truncate tip bearing two pairs of processes directed forward (Metcalf and Bruner, 1948).

Nymph ivory white, strongly dorsoventrally compressed; head much narrower than pronotum, half as wide as thorax across wing pads in mature nymphs; abdomen short and barrel-shaped; pronotum chevron-shaped, with oblique row of prominent, circular pits diverging from midline; scattered pits on apices of wing pads and sides of abdomen (Lucchi and Santini, 1993); legs short and with few spines, becoming more numerous as nymph matures.


Top of page This eastern Nearctic species was recorded for the first time in Italy in the summer of 1979 in the Province of Treviso (Zangheri and Donadini, 1980) and spread rapidly to all parts of the country, invading adjacent lands. It disperses over short distances by flight, and over long distances by horticulture (Pantaleoni, 1989). Possibly its presence in the southwestern USA is also a result of human activities. Despite the opinion of Dozier (1926), who thought this insect very abundant throughout the entire United States, it is apparently not very common in the northeast and has not been recorded from the Pacific Northwest or the northern prairies.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


Korea, Republic ofPresentLee and Wilson, 2010; Kim et al., 2011

North America

BermudaPresentOgilvie, 1928; EPPO, 2014
CanadaPresentEPPO, 2014
-OntarioPresentVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
-QuebecPresentMoore, 1950; EPPO, 2014
MexicoPresentVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
USARestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-AlabamaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ArizonaAbsent, unreliable recordVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
-ArkansasPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-CaliforniaAbsent, unreliable recordVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentVan Duzee, 1923; EPPO, 2014
-DelawareWidespreadManns and Manns, 1935; EPPO, 2014
-District of ColumbiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentMelichar, 1902; Spooner, 1920; EPPO, 2014
-IllinoisWidespreadWeese, 1924; EPPO, 2014
-IndianaWidespreadHeaton, 1934; EPPO, 2014
-IowaWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-KansasPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-KentuckyWidespreadGarman, 1915; EPPO, 2014
-LouisianaPresentMelichar, 1902; EPPO, 2014
-MarylandPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-MichiganWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-MinnesotaPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-MississippiWidespreadDozier, 1926; EPPO, 2014
-MissouriWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-NebraskaPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-New JerseyPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-New MexicoAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
-New YorkWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-OhioWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; Osborn, 1938; EPPO, 2014
-PennsylvaniaWidespreadVan Duzee, 1917; EPPO, 2014
-Rhode IslandWidespreadStene, 1908; EPPO, 2014
-TennesseeWidespreadAdams, 1941; EPPO, 2014
-TexasPresentVan Duzee, 1917; Metcalf and Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
-VirginiaWidespreadChittenden, 1900; EPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

CubaPresentMetcalfe & Bruner, 1948; EPPO, 2014
JamaicaPresentGowdey, 1926; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentCaldwell and Martorell, 1951; EPPO, 2014

South America

BrazilAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014


AustriaPresentEPPO, 2014
Bosnia-HercegovinaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
BulgariaPresentEPPO, 2014
CroatiaRestricted distributionMaceljski et al., 1995; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
FranceRestricted distributionMalumphy et al., 1994; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaPresentEPPO, 2014
GreeceRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
HungaryPresentKiss et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014
ItalyWidespreadZangheri and Donadini, 1980; EPPO, 2014
-SardiniaPresentEPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentEPPO, 2014
MontenegroPresentEPPO, 2014
RomaniaPresentGogan et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionGninenko et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentGlavendekic et al., 2005; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentEPPO, 2014
SpainRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandRestricted distributionJermini, 1995; EPPO, 2014

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page This polyphagous insect feeds on a wide variety of woody and herbaceous plants with over 200 species of hosts recorded from Italy (Girolami et al., 1996) including Citrus, grapevines, apple, peach, hazel (Zangheri and Donadini, 1980), fig, pear, plum (Duso, 1984), Wisteria, Crataegus, Laurus, Quercus, Spartium (Santini, 1989), Lonicera, hops (Arzone and Vidano, 1990), kiwifruit (Greatti and Girolami, 1994), olive, persimmon (Ciampolini et al., 1995) and Hibiscus (Pasini et al., 1997). In North America, it feeds on 34 genera of native plants representing 20 families, has been found on dahlias, salvias and privet, and has also been reared on green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and walnut leaves (Wilson and McPherson, 1981).

Growth Stages

Top of page Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Dense populations of nymphs cause stunting of the shoots, while those of adults produce large quantities of honeydew on which sooty mould develops. Mould damage is common in gardens but has also increasingly been observed in vineyards (Duso, 1984).

In soyabeans the symptoms of infestation are chlorosis and necrosis of the leaves, smearing of leaves and stalks with wax and sooty mould, withering of shoot tips and malformation and shrivelling of seeds (Ciampolini et al., 1987).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / honeydew or sooty mould
Stems / honeydew or sooty mould
Whole plant / dwarfing

Biology and Ecology

Top of page This species overwinters as eggs inserted in woody tissue (Wilson and McPherson, 1981) or under tree bark; the first nymphs are found on the leaves and stems in May. The total development period of the nymphal stages is an average of 42 days (Lucchi and Santini, 1993). Nymphs surround themselves with long, waxy filaments which protects them from their copious honeydew. This excreta is utilized by bees when nectar is scarce in summer (Barbattini et al., 1992). Adults are present from July to October (Duso, 1984). The flatid is transported over long distances on vehicles which often park along the roadsides near food plants of the pest. Local invasion of the surrounding area follows and is facilitated by the presence of uninterrupted belts of host trees and shrubs (Pantaleoni, 1989).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Fulgoraecia barberiana Parasite Adults
Neodryinus typhlocybae Predator/parasite Adults/Nymphs

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page This species is attacked by one or more species of dryinid wasps. Nymphs are parasitized by a mite, Leptus sp., and adults by an epipyropid moth, Epipyrops barberiana Dyar (Wilson and McPherson, 1981), neither of which kill their host.

Neodryinus typhlocybae was imported into Italy from the USA for biological control of M. pruinosa (Girolami et al., 1996) but it is not clear whether it was released and, if so, whether it became established.


Top of page Of primary concern are grapevines and fruit trees such as fig, lemon, apple, pear, plum and peach (Duso, 1984) where the fruit may be unsalable due to mould and markings. Serious damage was recorded on soyabean in northern Italy; in 1986, increased attacks led to a 30-40% crop loss (Ciampolini et al., 1987).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Both adults and nymphs are plainly seen when resting or feeding on stems and twigs.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page From other flatids with similar colouration this may be distinguished by (1) the head is flat, not produced, (2) the fact that the front wings are not truncate, but have rounded corners, and (3) by the moderate size, not so small as the tropical species of Metcalfa, nor gigantic as in Hansenia.

Prevention and Control

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Chemical control against dense nymphal populations might be justified on valuable trees, but control of sooty mould by means of fungicides is usually more useful. Chemical control of adults is difficult owing to their mobility and long life (Duso, 1984). For chemical control, timing is of the utmost importance, and at the very first signs of infestation, malathion, acephate, fenitrothion or pyrethroids should be applied at the edges of the fields (Ciampolini et al., 1987). Insecticide applications should be kept to a minimum; one application should be made on the crop and wild plants at the end of July/beginning of August to eliminate immature nymphs and newly-emerged adults, and a second application should be made on wild plants in the first half of August to prevent the adults from reinvading the crop.

On fruit crops which already receive calendar treatments of insecticides, a product effective against M. pruinosa could be inserted into the control programme at these times. (Ciampolini et al., 1995). The most effective insecticides were fenitrothion and quinalphos. Deltamethrin gave good control while pyridaphenthion gave mediocre control. Dimethoate gave better control on the leaves than on the fruit. Chlorpyrifos-methyl needed to be sprayed directly onto the adults to achieve maximum efficacy. Acephate, lambda-cyhalothrin, dimethoate, pyridaphenthion and deltamethrin persisted for 5-8 days, and then quinalphos, fenitrothion and chlorpyrifos-methyl (0-2 days). Chlorpyrifos-methyl, deltamethrin and quinalphos had a repellent activity, accounting for their low levels of persistence. (Stefanelli et al., 1994). Etofenprox had a sufficient and prolonged efficacy, contrasting with the high and brief activity of malathion. Applications of imidacloprid, a well-known systemic insecticide, in granular form to the foot of the plant or in liquid form to the trunk abolished negative effects on the urban population normally caused by spray treatments. Neem oil was not active against the adults, but it is suggested that it could be active against immature stages (Pasini et al., 1997).

Soap solutions cause almost all of the young stages of the pest to fall to the ground. In the absence of insecticide treatments, the colonies reform 8-10 days later. The treatment is also highly effective in washing away from the plants wax secretions and honeydew produced by the flatid. The treatment should be made as late as possible but before the appearance of adults (Greatti and Girolami, 1994).


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Adams RH, 1941. Stratification, diurnal and seasonal migration of the animals in a deciduous forest. Ecological Monographs, 11:189-227.

Arzone A; Vidano C, 1990. Exotic insects newly introduced into Italy and Piedmont. Informatore Fitopatologico, 40(7-8):47-54

Barbattini R; Greatti M; Iob M; Sabatini AG; Marcazzan GL; Colombo R, 1992. Apicultural interest of Metcalfa pruinosa: production and physico-chemical characteristics of honeydew honey. Apicoltore Moderno, 83(1):5-11

Caldwell JS; Martorell LF, 1951. Review of the Auchenorrhynchous Homoptera of Puerto Rico. Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico, 34:1-269.

Chittenden FH, 1900. Notes on two species of "lightning [sic] hoppers." United States Department of Agriculture, Division of Entomology, Bulletin (new series), 22:98-99.

Ciampolini M; Grossi A; Zottarelli G, 1987. Damage to soyabean through attack by Metcalfa pruinosa. Informatore Agrario, 43(15):101-103

Ciampolini M; Pane MD; Scaglia M, 1995. Metcalfa pruinosa: piu problemi nella difesa delle colture frutticole. Informatore Agrario, 51(23):67-72.

Dozier HL, 1926. The Fulgoridae or plant-hoppers of Mississippi, including those of possible occurrence: a taxonomic, biological, and economic study. Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 14.

Duso C, 1984. Infestations by Metcalfa pruinosa in the Venice district. Informatore Fitopatologico, 34(5):11-14

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

Garman H, 1915. The locust borer (Cyllene robiniae) and other insect enemies of the black locust. The State Forester of Kentucky, Lexington, Biennial Report, 2:57-58.

Girolami V; Conte L; Camporese P; Benuzzi M; Martir GR; Dradi D, 1996. Possibilita di controllo biologico della Metcalfa pruinosa. Informatore Agrario, 52:25.

Glavendekic M; Mihajlovic L; Petanovic R, 2005. Introduction and spread of invasive mites and insects in Serbia and Montenegro. In: Plant protection and plant health in Europe: introduction and spread of invasive species, held at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 9-11 June 2005 [ed. by Alford, D. V.\Backhaus, G. F.]. Alton, UK: British Crop Protection Council, 229-230. [Symposium Proceedings No.81.]

Gninenko YI; Kostukov VV; Kosheleva OV, 2011. New invasive insects in the forests and greenery of the Krasnodar krai. Zashchita i Karantin Rastenii, No.4:49-50.

Gogan A; Grozea I; Virteiu AM, 2010. Metcalfa pruinosa Say (Insecta: Homoptera: Flatidae) - first occurrence in western part of Romania. Research Journal of Agricultural Science, 42(4):63-67.

Gowdey CC, 1926. Catalogus insectorum Jamaicensis. Department of Agriculture of Jamaica, Entomology Bulletin 4(1):1-114.

Greatti M; Girolami V, 1994. Efficacy of washing solutions in the control of the young stages of Metcalfa pruinosa (Say). Informatore Agrario, 50(21):77-79

Heaton RR, 1934. An annotated list of the Fulgoridae (Homoptera) of Indiana. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society, 29:107-115.

Jermini M; Bonavia M; Brunetti R; Mauri G; Cavalli V, 1995. Metcalfa pruinosa Say, Hyphantria cunea (Drury) and Dichelomyia oenophila Haimah., three entomological curiosities or new phytosanitary problems for Tessin and Switzerland? Revue Suisse de Viticulture, d'Arboriculture et d'Horticulture, 27(1):57-63

Kim YeYeun; Kim MinYoung; Hong KiJeong; Lee SeungHwan, 2011. Outbreak of an exotic flatid, Metcalfa pruinosa (Say) (Hemiptera: Flatidae), in the capital region of Korea. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 14(4):473-478.

Kiss B; Karap A; Kis A; Szita É, 2013. Occurrence of Metcalfa pruinosa and Liguropia juniperi in rest areas along Hungarian higways. (Az amerikai lepkekabóca (Metcalfa pruinosa) és a tujakabóca (Liguropia juniperi) elodouble acute~fordulása hazai autópálya pihenodouble acute~helyeken.) Növényvédelem, 49(12):571-575.

Lee HeungSu; Wilson SW, 2010. First report of the Nearctic flatid planthopper Metcalfa pruinosa (Say) in the Republic of Korea (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea). Entomological News, 121(5):506-513.

Lucchi A; Santini L, 1993. Note morfo-biologiche sugli stadi preimmaginali di Metcalfa pruinosa (Say) (Homoptera, Flatidae). Frustula Entomologica, 16:175-185.

Maceljski M; Kocijancic E; Igrc-Barcic J, 1995. Medeci cvrcak (Metcalfa pruinosa (Say)) - Novi Stetnik u hrvatskoj. Fragmenta Phytomedica et Herbologica, 23(2):69-76.

Malumphy C; Baker R; Cheek S, 1994. Citrus planthopper, Metcalfa pruinosa. Plant Pest Notice, Central Science Laboratory. UK: MAFF, 19:1-2.

Manns TF; Manns MM, 1935. The dissemination of peach yellows and little peach [disease]. Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, 192:40-44.

Melichar L, 1902. Monographie der Acanaloniiden und Flatiden (Homoptera) (Fortsetzung.). Annalen des k. K. Naturhistorischen Hofmuseums, Wien, 17:1-123.

Metcalf ZP, 1923. A key to the Fulgoridae of eastern North America with descriptions of new species. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Society, 38:139-230.

Metcalf ZP; Bruner SC, 1948. Cuban Flatidae with new species from adjacent regions. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 41:63-118.

Moore GA, 1950. Check-list of Hemiptera of the Province of Quebec. Contributions de l'Institut de Biologie de l'Université de Montréal, 26.

Ogilvie L, 1928. The Insects of Bermuda. Beccles, UK: William Clowes and Sons.

Osborn H, 1938. The Fulgoridae of Ohio. Ohio State University Studies. Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin, 35:283-357.

Pantaleoni RA, 1989. The ways in which Metcalfa pruinosa (Say, 1830) (Auchenorrhyncha Flatidae) invades a new area. Bollettino dell'Istituto di Entomologia "Guido Grandi" della Universita degli Studi di Bologna, 43:1-7

Pasini M; Tosi L; Galbero G, 1997. Prove di lotta contro adulti di Metcalfa pruinosa (Say) con principi attivi diversi. Informatore Agrario, 53(20):68-70.

Santini L, 1989. Sulla comparsa in Toscana dell'Omottero Flatide Neartico Metcalfa pruinosa (Say). Frustula Entomologica, 12: 67-70.

Spooner CS, 1920. Some notes on the occurrence of Delphacinae [sic] (Hemip. Homop.). Entomological News, 31:44-46.

Stefanelli G; Villani A; Oian B; Mutton P; Pavan F; Girolami V, 1994. Control trials against Metcalfa pruinosa (Say). Informatore Agrario, 50(30):57-63

Stene AE, 1908. Frosted lightening hopper. Ormenis pruinosa, Say. Report of the Rhode Island Board of Agriculture, 23:32.

Van Duzee EP, 1917. Catalogue of the Hemiptera of America north of Mexico, excepting the Aphididae, Coccidae and Aleurodidae. Berkeley, USA: University of California.

Van Duzee EP, 1923. Family Fulgoridae. In: Britton WE, ed. Guide to the Insects of Connecticut, Part IV: The Hemiptera or Sucking Insects of Connecticut. State of Connecticut Public Document 47. State Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin, 34:24-55.

Weese AO, 1924. Animal ecology of an Illinois elm-maple forest. Illinois Biological Monographs, 9(4):7-93.

Wilson SW; McPherson JE, 1981. Life histories of Anormenis septentrionalis, Metcalfa pruinosa, and Ormenoides venusta with descriptions of immature stages. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 74(3):299-311

Zangheri S; Donadini P, 1980. Appearance in the Venice district of a Nearctic bug: Metcalfa pruinosa Say (Homoptera, Flatidae). Redia, 63:301-305

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