, Volume 136, Issue 4, pp 461–481 | Cite as

Comparative morphology of ovipositor in cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae), with considerations on their taxonomic significance

Original paper


Although previous studies have documented the morphology of ovipositor in Cicadidae, little is known about the morphology and ultrastructure of their gonapophyses, which may be closely related to the divergence of related groups and the host plant selection in oviposition. The morphology and ultrastructure of gonapophyses of 13 representative cicadas, belonging to the three subfamilies of Cicadidae, is investigated using scanning electron microscopy. The results show that the morphology of gonapophyses can be adopted in cicada taxonomy at both higher and species levels, and some characters may be promising for phylogenetic analysis of Cicadidae. With regard to the genus Karenia, whose systematic status remains controversial, it resembles members of Cicadinae more than those of Cicadettinae (=Tibicininae auct.) in morphology of gonapophyses. This indicates that it is more reasonable to place this genus into Cicadinae instead of Cicadettinae. The various types of sensilla on the gonapophyses and their distribution are described in detail, and their functions were discussed. Our results supply information not only for future study of taxonomy and phylogeny of the Cicadoidea, but also for researches of oviposition behavior and oviposition-site selection of cicadas.


Cicadomorpha Female Genitalia Ultrastructure Sensilla Taxonomy 



We are sincerely grateful to Prof. John Richard Schrock (Emporia State University, USA) and anonymous referees for their critical review of this manuscript. This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31170360, 31572302, 31493021).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Protection Resources and Pest Management, Ministry of Education, Entomological MuseumNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory Breeding Base for Zhejiang Sustainable Pest and Disease Control, Institute of Plant Protection and MicrobiologyZhejiang Academy of Agricultural SciencesHangzhouChina

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