Pest Identification: Leafhoppers
Most Common Types
The leafhopper is from the plant-feeding insect family Cicadellidae. They are sometimes called hoppers.
What They Look Like
Adult leafhoppers are slender, wedge-shaped, and from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long. They are usually bright green, yellow, or brown and mottled. As their name implies, leafhoppers move rapidly—they jump, fly, or run backwards, forwards, or sideways when disturbed.
Where They Live
There are at least 20,000 species of leafhoppers and they can be found anywhere in the world where vascular plants occur including deserts, wetlands, rainforests, and temperate forests. Almost every major plant species has its own species of leafhopper.
Where They Nest
Leafhopper females insert their eggs into the living tissue of host plants where they remain dormant from a month to over a year.
Steps to Prevent
Leafhoppers have numerous natural predators and can be controlled with commercially available beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewing, and minute pirate bugs. Insecticidal soap also keeps leafhopper populations under control.
Are They Harmful?
Leafhoppers feed on sap which robs plants of essential nutrients. The insects cause leaves to appear stippled, pale, or brown, and shoots may curl and die. Leafhoppers can secret honeydew which allows sooty mold to grow. The bugs also transmit plant pathogens. Several species of leafhopper are serious agricultural pests including the potato leafhopper, beet leafhopper, glassy-winged sharpshooter, two-spotted leafhopper, and white apple leafhopper.