Keel-Backed Treehopper Nymphs infest Okra

Subject: vegetable killing bug
Location: Tustin Ca, Orange county
August 24, 2013 8:23 pm
this bug is killing my vegetable garden ( on an okra plant in picture). what is it and what can I do to get rid of it?
Signature: Curtis

Keel-Backed Treehopper Nymphs
Keel-Backed Treehopper Nymphs

Dear Curtis,
You have an infestation of Keel-Backed Treehopper nymphs,
Antianthe expansa, and they can be very difficult to eradicate once they have gotten established in a garden.  They feed on plants in the family Solanacea which included many garden favorites like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  Okra is in the mallow family and we had not heard of it being a preferred host plant for the Keel-Backed Treehoppers in the past.   There are many online sources for information in this garden pest, including GardenWeb and Am I Bugging You Yet? which is specifically devoted to sightings in Tustin.  The best control is to keep the population in check by looking for adult green Keel-Backed Treehoppers which can fly from garden to garden.  The nymphs tend to feed in groups and they are very aware of potential predators, hiding on the other side of the twig when approached.  These Treehoppers, like other plant feeding Hemipterans, do not damage the plants by chewing.  Rather they suck the nourishing juices from the plants.  Spraying the plants with mild soapy water might help with the problem, but if your plants have already produced their crop, you might be best to remove the plants, being careful to not spread the mobile insects to other areas in your garden.

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