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Oriental Leafhoppers, are one of the largest families of plant-feeding insects. There are more leafhopper species worldwide than all species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians combined. 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.
Leafhopper small (adults less than 13 mm long) insects are slim, with a wide blunt head and sucking mouthparts tucked in underneath it. They have 2 pairs of wings, and the front pair is often thickened and colored. They are most often green or yellow, but some have more colors and patterns. Adult leafhoppers can fly, but also hop quickly off a plant if disturbed.
They are very active. Immatures lack wings so hop, or run, often sideways. Like aphids they sometimes excrete excess sugar solution. On the sides of their abdomen that have two flexible panels called âtymbalsâ that they can vibrate to make small sounds.
Habitat and Food Source(s): Species can be somewhat specific to certain host plants. As a group they feed on leaves of a wide variety of plants including many types grasses, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, shrubs, deciduous trees, palms and weeds. The rose leafhopper, Edwardsiana rosae (Linnaeus), feeds primarily on plants of the rose family, although foliage of other woody plants (blackberry, Cornus, oak, Prunus, Populus, raspberry, Ulmus, Acer and others) serve as food.
Species in the genus, Erythroneura, feed on sycamore leaves, but also on apple, grape and willow. The aster or six-spotted leafhopper, Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes, feeds on vegetables and annual flowers and spreads the aster yellows virus to woody plants like periwinkle and Thunbergia species. Nymphs and adults feed on the underside of leaves. Some leafhoppers are readily attracted to lights.
Oriental Leafhopper Nymphs
Life Cycle: Adults are white and 1â8 inch long. Leafhopper nymphs are whitish green, smaller, and wingless, and are usually found on the undersides of older leaves. They move quickly sideways as well as forward.
White apple leafhoppers overwinter as eggs in the bark of 1- to 5-year-old wood. Hatch begins at pink and may continue for 3 to 4 weeks during May and June when weather is variable. The nymphs develop over several weeks. Adults then lay eggs in the petiole and veins of leaves. Second-generation eggs begin to hatch during late July and August. The nymphs feed during August and are fully grown by late August or September. Overwintering eggs are laid during September and early October.
White apple leafhopper adults and nymphs feed on leaves and do not directly attack the fruit, although excrement on the fruit can reduce its quality. Leaves become speckled or mottled with white spots as green tissue is destroyed where leafhoppers suck sap from the leaves. Abundant adults during harvest can be a severe nuisance factor.
Damage: Leafhoppers are major agricultural pests. The main form of damage is caused by the diseases that they carry from plant to plant, but they also sometimes damage crops directly by their feeding as well. Leafhopper populations grow so fast that they can quickly become a problem.
Oriental Leafhopper Damage
Whitish cast skins from developing nymphs are commonly associated with an infestation. Removal of sap from the mesophyll or vascular tissues (phloem and xylem) and injection of toxic salivary secretions (e.g., proteinaceous fluid that clogs in the vascular tissues) during feeding activities cause leaves to develop yellow or clear stipples, spots or leaf portions that are visible on the upper leaf surface. Marginal chlorosis (yellowing) and necrosis (browning) of injured leaves is often called âhopperburnâ or âtip burn.â Injured leaves can fall prematurely. Some species cause terminal growth of injured plants to become curled and stunted. Heavily injured plant parts or plants can die. Egg-laying habits can also cause some plant injury.
Controls:Remove garden trash and other debris shortly after harvest to reduce over-wintering sites. Floating row covers can be used as a physical barrier to keep leafhoppers from damaging plants. Commercially available beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewing, and minute pirate bugs, are all voracious predators of both the egg and young larval stage. Apply diatomaceous earth to plants and/or spot treat with insecticidal soap to keep pest populations under control.
Thorough coverage of both upper and lower infested leaves is necessary for effective control. If pest levels become intolerable, spot treat with botanical insecticides as a last resort. Improve the effectiveness of insecticidal soap, mix 1 tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol to 1 quart of the spray. It helps the soap penetrate the insectsâ outer shell.
Chemicals Management: Young leafhoppers are much easier to control than adults. Effective control of the first generation may directly reduce high populations of the second. The first generation is a better target since the hatch is fairly synchronous, and leafhoppers of the age vulnerable to insecticides are present at one time.
Also, insecticides may be used at lower rates since less foliage is present during the first generation. Thorough coverage of upper and lower leaf surfaces is necessary and considered essential for effective control. Neonicotinoid insecticides (e.g., Actara, Assail, Calypso, Provado) are very effective against this pest.
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