Leafhoppers

Image of Leafhoppers

Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder
: Clypeorrhyncha
Superfamily: Membracoidea
Family
: Cicadellidae

Leafhoppers are found all over the world and constitute is the second-largest family in the Hemiptera (plant-feeding insects). They have at least 20,000 described species. Leafhoppers feed by sucking the sap of vascular plants, and are found almost anywhere such plants occur, from tropical rainforests, to arctic tundra. Several leafhopper species are important agricultural pests.

Both adult and nymphs puncture the underside of leaves and suck out plant juices. Feeding injury causes stunting and leaf curl. During the process of feeding, the hoppers inject a toxin that causes "hopper burn" This malady is characterized by a yellowing of the tissue at the tip and margin of leaves. Damage can cause the leaf to eventually scorch and drop from the plant.

Most leafhoppers are green-brown in color and average approximately 3-4 mm in length. Nymphs are generally lighter green in color. Leafhoppers derive their name from their hopping behavior.

Leafhoppers typically overwinter as adults. Adults emerge in the spring, mate and lay eggs inside the veins on the underside of infested plants. The female leafhopper lives about 30 days and after maturity lays 1-6 eggs daily. Eggs hatch in 8-10 days, and immatures develop to adults in 10-14 days. It is believed there are 3-5 generations per year in south Georgia.

Control:

  • Treatment for leafhoppers should be initiated when injury symptoms are numerous and leafhoppers are present in the field.