Keeled Treehopper Nymphs

Black spiny bug killed my tomato plant Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 10:52 PM
Dear bugman,
These black spiny creatures annihilated our tomato plant. Swarmed all over it. We’re kinda lazy gardeners, so we just let them. They also killed the wooden bunny that was resting on the tomato plant. Poor bunny never had a chance.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA

Keeled Treehopper Nymphs
Keeled Treehopper Nymphs

Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 11:11 PM
Woops! I should have googled first. I realize that I just sent you pictures of Keeled Treehoppers. “Black spiny tomato pest” did the trick. Thanks anyway.

Hi Josh,
We are happy to see you correctly identified your Treehopper nymphs.  We find them to be most troublesome on our tomato plants in the fall and winter.  We have noticed huge colonies of the spiny numphs on the woody stems of our plants in the fall, and we rarely have issues with Treehoppers on our young tomato plants.  This pestiferous species is also a problem with peppers, eggplant and other solanaceous plants.

May 17, 2011
Hi Daniel,
So I’ve had worse infestations, but the treehoppers have definitely moved in on a pair of tomato plants that wintered over.  I’ve been going at them by hand and with hose blasts but I think the soap/oil/hot pepper/garlic attempts are next.
I also advise, with gloves, pulling off any leaves that are dead or yellowing and working to separate the tomato branches which might require additional infrastructure.  These bad guys tend to congregate where leaves overlap and they can vampire the plant without fear of predators.  I am hoping that the work I did to “trellis” the plants this evening will make for easier hunting.  I did snap off a few branches accidentally, but I can live with that.
I have another suggestion as well:
Great pic.  I think you should also post a pic of a ladybug nymph on the same page… someone in their first season growing, after seeing the pic above, is unlikely to know they’re looking at a ladybug, which might be on the same plant.  Compare the keel-backed nymph on your site to:
I’m sure you have some ladybug nymph pics to pull from too, but thought this one really makes the case.  It suggests an evolutionary disguise on the treehopper’s part.
David Wolfberg

Thanks for the idea David.  We imagine many of our readers might confuse the larvae of the Lady Beetle with the noxious Keeled Treehopper Nymphs that proliferate on tomatoes and related plants, especially during the winter months.  We find that they are most plentiful on plants that we allow to continue to grow through the winter, and we never have such problems on new seedling tomato plants.  We are placing your comment on this posting since you don’t have a photo to accompany your comment.

3 thoughts on “Keeled Treehopper Nymphs”

  1. Question can these treehopper nymphs be red? I live in Arizona and for 3 years I have been fighting red nymphs that look just like these. The adults look exactly the same also. Ants seem to love them and are all around them in their clusters. Is there a symbiotic relationship with the treehoppers and ants as there is with aphids and ants?


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