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Guide to Controlling Leafhoppers

Written by Mindy on November 12th, 2017

As the name implies, this insect hops from one plant to another with no problem. This free roaming mobility is what makes controlling this garden pest difficult. Having said that though this type of movement is what makes the leafhopper easy to identify. Beyond hopping from one host plant to another, this pest also moves sideways.

controlling.leafhoppersBelieve it or not, there is not one type of leafhopper. The common name of a particular leafhopper is associated with its host-example rose leafhopper, potato leafhopper, and grape leafhopper. Before we get to how to control this garden pest, we first must look at the life cycle.

The cycle begins in early spring. Eggs that have overwintered in plant material will begin to hatch in early April. This hatching will take six to nine days. What appears from this hatching are wingless nymphs. These nymphs will molt five to six times in two to seven weeks. At that point, the nymphs have matured into what looks like wingless adults. Later on, these mature nymphs will develop wing pads. Once the females are mature, they will lay one to six eggs per day in tender new growth of the stem and leaves of host plants. This will appear as pimple-like structures on the host plant. The cycle will repeat again and it is not uncommon to have at least two generations per season.

In warmer climates, adult leaf hoppers will overwinter in crop debris and grassy areas around gardens.

The problem with the leaf hopper is not the pimple like structures on the plants but the plant diseases that this garden pest carries. First, some species of this pest produce honeydew, which is a sweet substance or waste of the pest. This substance attracts not only ants but also a fungus called sooty mold. This fungus is difficult to control. The second problem comes from the other plant diseases this pest carries. In all, it is better not to get this garden pest but what do you do if you find that leaf hoppers have invaded your garden.

The first thing that needs to be done is to remove the plant that is infested with leaf hoppers and their eggs. Second, make sure your garden is cleaned up and no plant debris is around for the leaf hopper to overwinter in. Third, make sure your environment is welcoming to beneficial insects and if need be purchase some. Finally, if you see just a few or suspect you have them, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the plant along with the ground. This substance will cut into the exoskeleton of the leaf hopper and kill it but when it rains you must reapply.


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