LEAFHOPPERS get their name from their tendency to take short, ‘hoppy’ flights when disturbed or sense danger. They feed on a variety of hosts and consist of many different species. They are easily seen, often resting on foliage, and often cause little or no damage. However, when they do find a crop they savor, they can cause significant feeding damage. Stippling (white spots), yellowing leaf edges, curled or mottled young leaves, and dark excrement left on the underside of the leaves are all examples of leafhopper damage. This damage alone could be attributed to a number of different pests, leafhoppers molt several times during their nymphal stage leaving papery castings. Pests and casts are typically found on the underside of the leaves where they are more likely to find shade and higher humidity environments. A leafhopper’s unique flight ability can be a good indication of their presence when scouting.
LIFE CYCLE: Adult leafhoppers overwinter in areas where there is ample plant debris, established weed patches and other areas where there is little chance of disturbance. In the spring, adults (generally up to a half-inch long) emerge and lay up to 6 eggs per day in plant stems and veins. It generally takes a week for eggs to hatch and about two weeks for the nymphs to complete their molting process and become adults. Multiple, overlapping generations can occur each year.
CONTROL: Leafhoppers can be challenging to control since they are considered secondary pests in many crops. As a result, effective biological and biorational control options have not been widely developed. To overcome this apparent lack of options, it is best to apply the principles of integrated pest management to YOUR particular crop system. The products below are either labeled for leafhoppers or can be used as part of a broader pest management program. For more information on the modern paradigm of IPM, see Surendra Dara's article below.