Length: males 4.2-5.0 mm, females 4.9-6.0 mm; both sexes somewhat larger in western North America
Hamilton (1986) revised the genus Helochara, based on his review of 3500 specimens.
Canada and the United States are home to four species of the genus, and a fifth (Helochara mexicana) has been reported only from its namesake country.
West Virginians and others who live in the East, won't have trouble narrowing their finds down to species, since Helochara communis is the only species in the genus found east of west Texas. It also lives in the western states and provinces.
Helochara communis does exhibit some local variation. For one thing, it is larger in western North America. Also the head length (and hence the sharpness of the front of the head) is quite variable. Head length also varies by sex, with the females boasting longer, sharper heads than the males.
Helochara communis is univoltine, and the adult hopper can be seen very early in the season. As Beirne (1956) notes, "It hibernates as an adult and emerges very early from hibernation, often before the snow has melted." The individual on this page was photographed in an Upshur County wetland on 22 March 2009.
Food plants are in the genera Juncus, Sparganium, and Carex. All three are present in West Virginia.
It is easy to see some similarities between hoppers in the genus Helochara and those in Graphocephala and Draeculacephala. All three are closely related members of the subfamily Cicadellinae.
Insects of West Virginia