Leafhoppers
Many species, Cicadellidae, HEMIPTERA


DESCRIPTION

Adult -- Leafhoppers average 7 mm in length (rarely as long as 13 mm). They have a triangular, often elongated, head and may be yellow, green, or gray. Some species are mottled and speckled.

Egg -- The white, elongate eggs are 1 mm or less in length.

Nymph -- The pale, wingless nymphs are smaller than adults but similar in shape.


BIOLOGY

Distribution -- Leafhoppers are common throughout the eastern United States and occur in all areas of North Carolina.

Host Plants -- Leafhoppers infest several hundred kinds of cultivated and wild plants.

Damage -- Leafhoppers retard the growth of grass by piercing stems and leaves with their needle-like mouthparts and extracting sap. This type of feeding causes infested areas to have a whitened or bleached appearance. This symptom can be mistaken for drought or disease damage. Newly seeded lawns are sometimes killed by leafhoppers.

Life History -- Leafhoppers may overwinter as eggs or adults. Resuming activity in the spring, the adults begin to feed and mate. Females insert 75 to several hundred eggs, singly, into the leaf veins of tender new foliage. About 10 days later, nymphs emerge. Over a period of 12 to 30 days, these immature leafhoppers feed on new leaves and develop through five instars. The fully grown nymphs then molt to become adults and the life cycle is repeated. Leafhoppers produce one to four generations each year depending on the latitude and the particular leafhopper species.


CONTROL

Leafhoppers can be chemically controlled, but treated areas may be reinfested from untreated areas. Therefore, if populations are high, sprays may have to be repeated at 4- to 5-week intervals throughout the growing season. For specific insecticides and rates, consult the state agricultural extension service recommendations.