Garden Fleahopper
Halticus bractatus (Say), Miridae, HEMIPTERA

DESCRIPTION

Adult - There are three forms of garden fleahopper adults: slender long-winged females; oval-bodied short-winged females; and slender long-winged males. All forms are black and have long legs and antennae. They tend to jump actively but are also capable of flying. The body may be 1.6 to 2.0 mm long.

Egg - Each white, somewhat curved egg is rounded at one end, truncate at the other, about 7 mm long and 1 to 2 mm wide. Usually inserted into the plant, the egg is seldom ever seen.

Nymph - Nymphs are pale yellow to dark green and range from 0.7 to 2 mm in length with 5 instars. Later instars have a distinct black spot on each side of the first thoracic segment. All stages have a jumping habit.


BIOLOGY

Distribution - Though infestations are sporadic in occurrence, garden fleahoppers can be found throughout the eastern U.S. as well as in some western areas.

Host Plants - A wide range of garden, ornamental and forage plants as well as many weeds and grasses are subject to infestation by this fleahopper. Vegetable hosts include bean, beet, cabbage, celery, corn, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, and tomato.

Damage - Garden fleahoppers cause pale spots to develop on leaves by sucking sap from the foliage. Heavily infested foliage dies and drops from the plant. Defoliation naturally interferes with growth and development of crop causing yield reduction.

Life History - Garden fleahoppers overwinter as eggs laid from August through September. Nymphs emerge in early spring and feed on undersides of leaves. Nymphs feed and develop from 11 to 35 days before maturing into adults, the duration depending on temperature.

Adults live 1 to 3 months. Each female lays approximately 105 eggs. Eggs are inserted into punctures made by the mouthparts in stems or leaves. About 12 to 20 days later, eggs hatch and the life cycle is repeated. Five generations are completed each year.


CONTROL

For up-to-date chemical recommendations, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual (see "Plant bug" in the "Insect control on vegetables" section).

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