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Leafhopper Control

Please always review product labels prior to purchase to confirm the product you are purchasing is labeled for the specific pest/disease & crop you are treating.x

FOR YOUR FILES: Leafhopper tech sheet (PDF)

Photo courtesy of University of Kentucky

  • 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.
  • Leafhoppers have been known to affect a variety of crops such as wine grapes, hops, potatoes, mint, and cannabis.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Beneficial Insects:
    Orius insidiosus — aka pirate bugs, an effective generalist beetle predator that feeds on nymph stages of leafhoppers. They are great fliers, which enables them to travel and seek out prey. They need a food source in order to establish a population, which can be achieved

    Chrysoperla rufilabris — aka green lacewings, are a generalist predator that feeds on leafhoppers. Each larva can devour 200 or more pests and eggs a week for about 3 weeks. At that time, the larvae pupate and become adult lacewings, which emerge to lay eggs on the foliage. Adults can lay more than 200 eggs during their lifetime. Since leafhoppers also lay their eggs on stems and leaves, when lacewings hatch it is a convenient place for larvae to start feeding.

    Insecticides:
    Products that contain Neem oil have proven useful. Also, products such as BotaniGard ES, and Marrone Bio Innovations’ Venerate XC and Grandevo can be used when populations are low and just beginning to build. Other product labels that target leafhoppers include: Molt-X

    Cultural Control & Further Considerations:
    Removing excessive yard debris and weed patches can disturb habitat leafhoppers depend on to overwinter.

    Building biodiversity into the system by attracting naturally occurring predators can help tremendously. A variety of helpful “banker plants” include Lobularia martima (sweet alyssum) and the Ornamental Pepper variety “Purple Flash” have both proven to be great banker plants to attract Orius insidiosus. They provide a food source while supporting their establishment in a crop. When choosing a Lobularia spp. variety, any hybrid variety can be used, however, the white and more fragrant varieties are often recommended and less expensive.

    For more information on the modern paradigm of IPM, see Surendra Dara's article below.

More Information: The New Integrated Pest Management Paradigm for the Modern Age (PDF)

Always obtain an accurate diagnosis and ensure you are using good cultural and sanitation practices. Local extension offices will generally be able to identify your pest. Additionally, feel free to send us images and we will do our best to assist you.
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