Leafhopper Damage: All You Need to Know for Healthy Plants

Leafhoppers are a diverse group of hopping insects known for causing damage to various plant species by piercing and sucking sap from plant tissues. These insects are often identified by their small size, wedge-shaped bodies, and rows of spines on their hind legs 1. While some species are known for their striking colors, like the red-banded leafhopper, others can be light-colored or brown, depending on the plant they infest 2.

These tiny pests can lead to a type of injury known as “hopper burn” which shows up as a yellowing of the leaf margins, followed by curling and necrosis [^3^]. Hopper burn is caused by toxins in leafhopper saliva blocking plant veins during feeding. This damage can lead to reduced plant yield, limiting the growth and productivity of the plant species affected. In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about leafhopper damage, prevention, and control methods.

Leafhopper Basics

Identification and Features

Leafhoppers are small, wedge-shaped insects with variable colors, often light or brown. Some of them, like the redbanded leafhopper, have bright red and blue (or green) markings on their wings and thorax. Their size is typically less than 1/6-inch, and they possess:

  • A distinctive head, legs, and underparts, often bright yellow
  • Thin wings
  • A slightly wedge-like shape

Life Cycle

The life cycle of leafhoppers consists of two main stages: nymphs and adults. The nymphs are wingless and develop through several molts to reach the adult stage. Adults are the flying stage in leafhoppers’ life cycle, featuring functional wings.

Habitats

Leafhoppers can be found worldwide and are common in various habitats, including:

Comparison Table: Nymphs vs. Adults

Feature Nymphs Adults
Wings Wingless Fully developed wings
Mobility Limited by lack of wings Highly mobile due to flying ability

Types of Leafhoppers and Host Plants

Common Leafhopper Species

There are numerous leafhopper species, but some commonly found ones include:

  • Glassy-winged sharpshooter: These leafhoppers transmit the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, causing various plant diseases1.
  • Blue-green sharpshooter: Similar to glassy-winged sharpshooters, these leafhoppers are also vectors of Xylella fastidiosa1.
  • Potato leafhopper: Known to feed on nearly 200 types of plants, these leafhoppers can cause damage to crops in northern areas2.

Affected Plants and Crops

Leafhoppers cause damage to a wide variety of different plants, including:

  • Fruit: apples, grapes
  • Vegetables: potatoes, beans, corn
  • Other crops: alfalfa, ornamentals
  • Flowers: roses

Comparison of Common Leafhopper Species and their Host Plants

Leafhopper Species Host Plants
Glassy-winged sharpshooter Grapes, roses, ornamentals
Blue-green sharpshooter Grapes, fruit trees, ornamentals
Potato leafhopper Apples, potatoes, beans, corn, alfalfa

Pros of leafhoppers’ ecosystem function:

  • Serve as a food source for other insects

Cons of leafhoppers:

  • Damage plants by feeding on sap
  • Transmit harmful pathogens, like Xylella fastidiosa

While leafhoppers can cause damage to various crops and plants, in some cases, they can also serve as a food source for other insects, contributing to the ecosystem’s balance.

Leafhopper Damage to Plants

Visible Signs of Damage

  • Yellowing: Leafhoppers suck sap from plants, causing leaves to yellow and wilt.
  • Stippled appearance: Their feeding leads to tiny white or yellow spots on leaves.
  • Leaf curl: As damage progresses, leaves may curl and develop a “scorched” appearance.

For example, the potato leafhopper can cause damage to potato, bean, and other food crop leaves.

Effects on Plant Growth and Health

  • Stunted growth: Leafhopper feeding affects the nutrient supply, leading to reduced plant growth.
  • Weakened plants: Affected plants are more susceptible to diseases and other pests.

For instance, the aster leafhopper can spread aster yellows disease, which further weakens plants and is untreatable.

Comparison of Leafhopper Damage Signs

Yellowing Stippled Appearance Leaf Curl
Visible Yes Yes Yes
Indicates Nutrient loss Feeding damage Advanced stages

Remember to monitor your plants regularly to detect leafhopper damage early and take appropriate measures to control them.

Diseases and Pests Associated with Leafhoppers

Disease Transmission

Leafhoppers are known for transmitting plant diseases, particularly bacterial pathogens like Xylella fastidiosa. This bacterium can cause various diseases in different plant hosts. For example, aster yellows is a phytoplasma disease spread by the aster leafhopper that affects carrots, celery, lettuce, potatoes, and other vegetables by causing yellowing, dwarfing, and distorted foliage (source).

Pest Interactions and Collaboration

Leafhoppers often interact with other pests in their environment. They produce honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance that attracts ants and promotes the growth of mold.

Some common pests associated with leafhoppers include:

  • Ants
  • Spider mites
  • Aphids

These pests can work together with leafhoppers, making infestations more challenging to manage.

Pros and Cons of leafhoppers

Pros:

  • Assist in pollination
  • Can be a food source for beneficial insects

Cons:

  • Damage plants directly by feeding on sap
  • Transmit diseases to plants
  • Attract other pests with honeydew

Natural Enemies of Leafhoppers

Leafhoppers have natural enemies that help control their populations. Some of these predators include:

  • Pirate bugs
  • Lady beetles
  • Lacewings
  • Parasitic wasps

For example, Anagrus erythroneurae and A. daanei egg parasites can control leafhopper populations effectively in vineyards (source).

Pest Control Method
Leafhoppers Pirate bugs
Lady beetles
Lacewings
Parasitic wasps

By understanding the diseases and pests associated with leafhoppers, it becomes easier to manage their impact on plants and incorporate favorable control methods.

Monitoring and Controlling Leafhopper Populations

Prevention Strategies

  • Regular inspection of plants for early signs of leafhopper infestation
  • Removing plant debris to eliminate overwintering sites
  • Encouraging natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings
  • Avoiding excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers, which can attract leafhoppers

Organic and Chemical Control Methods

Organic Control Methods

  1. Neem oil: A natural pesticide effective in controlling leafhopper populations

    • Pros: Safe for beneficial insects, biodegradable
    • Cons: May need frequent application, can be harmful to aquatic life
  2. Diatomaceous earth: A powder made from fossilized algae, lethal to leafhoppers

    • Pros: Inexpensive, safe for beneficial insects
    • Cons: Ineffective when wet, may need reapplication after rain or irrigation
  3. Insecticidal soap: Potassium salts of fatty acids used to weaken and kill leafhoppers

    • Pros: Environmentally friendly, safe for most beneficial insects
    • Cons: Direct contact required, may require multiple applications

Chemical Control Methods

  1. Pesticides: Synthetic chemicals used to control leafhopper infestations
    • Examples: Pyrethrins, malathion, carbaryl
    • Pros: Quick and effective control
    • Cons: Harmful to beneficial insects, may promote pesticide resistance
Method Pros Cons
Neem oil Safe for beneficial insects, biodegrad… Frequent application, harmful to aquatic life
Diatomaceous earth Inexpensive, safe for beneficial insects Ineffective when wet, reapplication needed
Insecticidal soap Eco-friendly, safe for beneficial insects Direct contact required, multiple applications
Pesticides Quick and effective control Harmful to beneficial insects, resistance issues

Promoting Beneficial Insects and Natural Predators

Types of Beneficial Insects and Predators

Some examples of beneficial insects and predators in your garden are:

  • Ladybugs
    • Consume aphids, mites, and other pests
    • Red or orange with black spots
  • Lacewings
    • Predatory in both adult and larval stages
    • Feed on aphids, mites, whiteflies, and more
  • Spiders
    • Non-insect predators
    • Help control various pests
  • Other Predatory Insects
    • Includes ground beetles, assassin bugs, parasitic wasps

By promoting these beneficial insects and natural predators, you can naturally control leafhopper populations.

Attracting and Encouraging Their Presence

Below are some ways to attract and encourage beneficial insects and predators:

  • Plant a variety of flowering plants
  • Provide habitats such as shrubs, hedges, and mulch
  • Avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides
  • Practice proper watering and pruning methods
Beneficial Insect Pros Cons
Ladybugs Excellent aphid control May fly away when food scarce
Lacewings Wide range of prey; adults and larvae both predatory Can be sensitive to some pesticides
Spiders Efficient predators of various pests May be considered as pests by some people

By following these tips, you can create a healthy garden ecosystem, providing both a beautiful space and effective biological control against leafhoppers and other pests.

Managing Leafhoppers in the Garden

Minimizing Habitat and Breeding Sites

  • Keep your garden clean of weeds and debris, as these can provide leafhoppers with hiding spots and breeding sites
  • Prune and maintain both garden plants and ornamental plants, to discourage leafhoppers from laying eggs

Leafhoppers usually feed on various garden plants and are attracted to an unkempt garden. Keeping your garden area free of weeds, and properly maintaining plants can help minimize their habitat and breeding sites.

Implementing Barriers and Protective Measures

  • Use floating row covers during the growing season to protect plants
  • Consider including plant species that attract beneficial insects, which prey on leafhoppers
  • Regularly check host plants for signs of leafhopper infestations

Utilizing barriers like floating row covers can help protect your garden from leafhoppers during the growing season. Growing plants that attract beneficial insects, such as pollinators, also aids in controlling the leafhopper population. Regularly checking your plants for symptoms of infestation and acting promptly can prevent widespread damage to your garden.

Method Pros Cons
Floating row covers Effective barrier, easy to install May limit sunlight, need to remove during pollination
Pruning and maintaining plants Healthy plants, less attractive for leafhoppers Requires time and effort
Attracting beneficial insects Natural control, supports biodiversity May take time to establish

By effectively managing leafhoppers in your garden using these techniques, you can maintain the health and beauty of your plants.

Professional Pest Control and Support

When to Consult Professionals

It’s essential to consult professionals when:

  • Leafhoppers cause extensive damage to your plants
  • You’re unable to identify the pest
  • DIY pest control methods are ineffective

For example, if your plants have severe hopper burn and self-management efforts aren’t helping, a professional can better assess the situation and provide guidance.

Available Resources

Online resources can be valuable, such as the UC Statewide IPM Program, which offers information about leafhopper species and management approaches.

Comparison Table for Online Resources:

Resource Pros Cons
UC Statewide IPM Program Comprehensive information on leafhoppers Specific to California agriculture
University of Connecticut IPM Detailed information on potato leafhopper Limited to potato crop management

Expert Advice

Professionals can:

  • Help identify the specific leafhopper species causing damage
  • Recommend tailored Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies
  • Advise on preventive measures and monitoring tactics

For example, a professional may suggest regularly checking your crop’s action threshold to determine whether leafhopper numbers warrant control action.

Footnotes

  1. Leafhoppers and Sharpshooters – UCIPM 2 3

  2. Leafhoppers found on Flowers and Foliage – NCState Extension 2

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Ricaniid Planthopper from South Korea

 

Subject: What type of moth is this?
Location: Daejeon, South Korea
August 9, 2016 12:29 pm
Hello. I have included a picture of a moth that I am trying to identify. The moth is found is South Korea. The one in the picture was near a river and there were hundreds of them in that area. I have seen them mostly in the evening, but I assume they are also active at night.
I hope you can tell me this little guys name.
Thank you.
Signature: John Erskin

Free Living Hemipteran
Ricaniid Planthopper

Dear John,
This is not a Moth.  It is a Free Living Hemipteran in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha, a group that includes Cicadas, Leafhoppers, Planthoppers and Treehoppers.  Other than recognizing its suborder, we have not had any luck with a more specific identification at this time.

Update:  August 11, 2016
Thanks to a pair of comments from our awesome contributor, Cesar Crash, who runs Insetologia in Brazil, directing us first to a matching image on FlickR identified as a Ricaniid Planthopper from the family Ricaniidae,
Ricania shantungensis, and then to a scholarly article on Science Alert on the reclassification of the genus as Pochazia, we suddenly realize we are way over our head in writing about this particular insect.  With that said, we will just quote the first paragraph from Science Alert:  “Two species of the genus Pochazia, P. albomaculata and P. shantungensis, are redescribed and illustrated from Korea. Among them, the exotic species P. shantungensis, assumed to be invaded from China recently, is known for the first time in Korea. A sudden outbreak of the latter is observed in the western part of Korean peninsula which is injurious to various fruit plants, many other trees and wild herbs. Hitherto unknown male genitalic characters of the two species are given and keys to genera of the Ricaniidae and species of Pochazia from Korea are provided.”   The New South Wales Government has a nice page on the family Ricaniidae, an Old World Family of Planthoppers that will hopefully not spread with globalization as members of the Free Living Hemipteran suborder Auchenorrhyncha, and indeed Hemipterans in general, are among the most problematic invasive species because of the agricultural impact their introduction has on crops.    

Letter 2 – Lichen Mimic Fulgorid Planthopper from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Lichen Mimic
Location: Rancha Naturalista, Costa Rica.
February 21, 2016 10:00 am
Hello,
We encountered this lichen mimic hemipteran in Costa Rica 10 days ago. Can you help in identifying it please.
I tried previously to submit, but have now reduced the size of a single file.
Thanks
Hugh
Signature: Hugh Woodland

Lichen Mimic Hemipteran
Lichen Mimic Fulgorid Planthopper

Hi Hugh,
How large was this Hemipteran?  It resembles a Lace Bug in the family Tingidae, but we could not locate any images of similar looking Lichen Mimic Lacebugs from Costa Rica on the internet.  Lace Bugs are quite small.  We would not rule out that it is some species of Planthopper from the superfamily Fulgoroidea.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with an identity than we have had.

Hi Daniel,
It was 1.5, maybe 2 cm long. I couldn’t find anything on the net either!
Hugh

That is too big to be a Lace Bug.

Comment from Hugh:  August 11, 1016
With the help of Dr Jim Lewis of the Museo Nacional of Costa Rica and Dr Jan Janzen this has been identified as Sinuala tuberculata in the Fulgoridae.

Letter 3 – Milkweed Meadow Continued: Which Bumble Bee is it?????

 

August 4, 2011
We walked back to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this morning to check on the status of the two Monarch Caterpillars,
Danaus plexippus, thinking that they might have transformed into chrysalides, but I could only find one of the caterpillars.  Hopefully the other was just elsewhere, or perhaps it found a nice place to metamorphose into a chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar

A very wary Bumble Bee would not let me get close enough with the camera, and after several aborted attempts, we were lucky enough to get a few photos.  This is most definitely not a Yellow Faced Bumble Bee.  We were not able to get any photos of the abdominal markings until the last image.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

Just as it was flying off it showed its signature markings, but interestingly, it doesn’t match any of the images on BugGuide for the four species that Charles Hogue, in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basis, indicates are found locally.  After a bit more searching, we determined it might be Crotch’s Bumble Bee, Bombus crotchii, based on the illustration on the North American Bumble Bees and confirmed on the third photo down on the Las Pilitas Nursery webpage, and that appears to agree with this BugGuide image as well.  The Discover Life website also has photos.  Continued research is filling us with doubts.  It seems to match what we identified as a California Bumble Bee when we found one napping on the wisteria this spring.

Crotch’s or California Bumble Bee???

There appeared to be more Large Milkweed Bugs today than on Sunday, and there were several places where the Milkweed Aphids, AKA Oleander Aphids, Aphis nerii, were quite plentiful.  Read more about Milkweed Aphids on BugGuide.

Milkweed Aphids

Before leaving, I made sure to pull some more Marestail or Horseweed, Conyza species (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide or CalFlora) and more of that prickly yellow flower that is still not properly identified that might be a Spiny Sowthistle, Sonchus asper (See Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide).

Update:  on the Bumble Bee identity
August 5, 2011
Now we aren’t certain if the Bumble Bee is a California Bumble Bee or a Crotch’s Bumble Bee.

Update:  August 7, 2011
I returned to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park to search for the Monarch Chrysalis, but the only caterpillar I could find has still not metamorphosed. 

Monarch Caterpillar in Elyria Canyon, August 7, 2011

I did get some additional photo of the Bumble Bee as well.  Here are the abdominal markings from a different angle.

Which Bumble Bee is it? Crotch’s or California???

Update:  August 11, 2011
I made a trip to the Milkweed Meadow in Elyria Canyon Park this evening about 6:30 and I was unable to find any Monarch Caterpillars.  I hope they wandered away from the milkweed to find a suitable location to transform into chrysalides.  I photographed a couple of Large Milkweed Bugs. 

Large Milkweed Bugs

The new addition to the insects that have become part of the milkweed ecosystem are Small Milkweed Bugs.  I found them  on two different milkweed plants. 

Small Milkweed Bugs

The individual I photographed was a difficult subject, and it kept hiding among the blossoms of the milkweed inflorescence.  I needed to intervene by including my hand in the photo to get a nice angle on the unwilling subject.

Small Milkweed Bug

 

 

 

 

 

Letter 4 – Mystery Insects from South Africa are Soft Scales

 

Subject: Bugs
Location: Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, South Africa
December 23, 2013 11:48 pm
Trying to find out what this bug is. Found in grasslands against rocks.
Thanks
Signature: Charl

Possibly Scale Insects
Soft Scale Insects, NOT Planthopper Nymphs

Dear Charl,
If you had only sent one photo, we might have doubted that these were insects because they almost look like fungus.  Providing the view from beneath reveals the tiny legs.  Our first guess is that these must be Planthoppers or some other immature stage in the development of a Hemipteran, an order with many member that secrete a waxy sustance for protection.  We also would not rule out that this might be a larval Sawfly, another group with members known to secrete a waxy protection like this individual from BugGuide.  We have an image from Madagascar that was never properly identified that looks similar, but not exactly like your image.  We suspected those creatures to be Planthopper Nymphs.  There are similar images on the Lonely Traveler Blog that are identified as being Flattid Planthopper Nymps.  An even closer match is the adult female Coconut Mealybug, 
Nipaecoccus nipae, that is pictured on Featured Creatures.  There is also a similar photo of a Coconut Mealybug on the University of Florida IFAS Extension site which indicates it is found in Africa.  While we are not certain of a species identification, we are confident that this is some insect in the order Hemiptera.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide something more definite.

Possibly Unknown Hemipteran
Soft Scale Insect

Hi Daniel,
Thanks so very much for your efforts. Will study further and should I discover anything will let you know.
A merry Christmas to you.
Kind regards,
Charl Strydom.

Update:  December 28, 2013
We just received a comment indicating that this is a Soft Scale Insect in the family Coccidae.

Update:  January 4, 2014
Subject: Insects
Location: Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, South Africa
January 4, 2014 7:41 am
Update to “Mystery Insects from South Africa are Soft Scales” posted 23rd Dec 2013.
Found more and adding photo’s.
Signature: Charl

Soft Scale
Soft Scale

Thanks for sending additional images Charl.

Soft Scale
Soft Scale

 

Letter 5 – Partridge Bug

 

Subject: Pink Assessin/long nosed bug
Location: Courtice , ontario
December 1, 2015 5:35 pm
Hello
It has been awhile since I asked for an ID . I am going over my summer pics of insects and I have a couple I would love identified . Location Courtice, Ontario. In a field near courtice arena.
One is a pink prickly looking bug the other a long nosed bug.
Signature: Terri Martin

Partridge Bug
Partridge Bug

Dear Terri,
We will deal with the Assassin Bug in a later posting.  Your long nosed Leafhopper in the family Dictyopharidae is a Partridge Bug,
Scolops sulcipes, a species we identified on BugGuide where it states:  “host: Convolvulus (bindweed, Convolvulaceae).”

Letter 6 – Red Gum Lerp Psyllid

 

Red Gum Psyllid and Lerp
Location: Contra Costa County, CA
October 14, 2011 1:06 pm
I used the IC IPM website to identify this as a red gum psyllid (Glycaspis brimblecombei). I didn’t see any on What’s That Bug?, so I thought this would make a good addition.
Oh, did I kill him by removing the lerp?
Signature: Fel

Red Gum Lerp Psyllid

Dear Fel,
Thanks so much for sending us your photo.  We don’t know much about the invasive, exotic Red Gum Lerp Psyllid.  We did find a nice UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Fact Sheet on the species.

Letter 7 – Probably Fulgoroid Planthopper from Puerto Rico

 

From Puerto Rico: Hemiptera or Diptera?
Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 7:32 AM
I thought this would be a bug, but upon looking at it more closely I believe I see alteres. Perhaps a sort of fly? It would perch on leaves and stay immobile for long periods of time. Photographed during the day, Caribbean National Forest, Puerto Rico.
Alejandro Sanchez
Lowland rain forest, Luquillo Mountains, eastern Puerto Rico

unknown Fly (we think) from Puerto Rico
Hemipteran from Puerto Rico

Hello Alejandro,
We believe this is a fly in the order Diptera, but we are uncertain beyond that. We will check with Eric Eaton to see if he is able to provide additional information. We would not entirely rule out that this is a Hemipteran, because although the image appears to indicate halteres, the knobbed, thread-like, hind wing organs of flies, our ancient volume of Comstock’s An Introduction to Entomology states on page 59: “The hind wings of the males of the family Coccidae are also threadlike.”

Unknown Fly from Puerto Rico
Hemipteran from Puerto Rico

Correction: From Eric Eaton
Monday, January 26, 2009
Ok, the “fly” is some kind of hemipteran, probably a fulgoroid hopper, but in the tropics there are entire families not seen in North America….
Eric

Update: Tuesday January 27, 2009
Hi Daniel:
The web site Fulgoromorpha Lists on The Web (FLOW) lists only seven fulgoroid species for Puerto Rico, in two families (Achilidae and Cixiidae) and five genera. I was not able to locate images of any of the listed species, but based on related species it looks like it is probably a Cixiid (Bothriocera bicornis, Cubana tortriciformis or Oliarus cingalensis). It looks quite similar to the Bothriocera images on Bugguide. Regards.
Karl
Links: http://flow.snv.jussieu.fr/cgi-bin/flowexplorer.pl?lang= en&page=country&id=40

http://bugguide.net/node/view/43853/bgimage

Letter 8 – Leafhopper Nymph

 

2 pictures for you
Neat website! I take macro photos (mostly of spiders and insects) here in Denver, Colorado and have a little bug that is ubiquitous in our yard. Every step I take in the lawn, generates hundreds of these little jumping bugs. The blue background on the first photo is a standard pair of blue jeans, so the weave should give a sense of scale. I tried to find out what it was, but came up short. Do you know what it is?
Thanks,
Rachel Drummond

Hi Rachel,
This is some species of immature Leafhopper in the Family Cicadellidae. They suck the juices from plants.

Update: (01/11/2007) bug images on WTB
Dear Bugman,
I enjoyed visiting your site. It really doesn’t compete with BugGuide.net, since you have posted lots of foreign insects that they bar from that site. For example, you have some really nice photos of the primitive treehopper Aetalion (which is tropical). I thought you might like to know about the following:
(5) The “leafhopper nymph” is actually a short-winged (brachypterous) leafhopper, Doratura stylata that is common on lawns. It has been introduced to North America from Europe.
Thanks for helping to spread an interest in Homoptera. We need to encourage the amateur.
Andy Hamilton

Letter 9 – Leafhopper Nymph

 

Beetle(?) Larva?
Location: Mims, Florida
December 10, 2010 7:56 pm
Found this little guy on my porch railing. Some eat color and some odd gyrations made him catch my eye. Question is…what the heck is he gonna be when he grows up? I put a dime in the corner of one of the images to give an idea of size…is he a baby cockroach?
PS Love the site…
Signature: Mark

Leafhopper Nymph

Dear Mark,
We were so puzzled by this guy, that at first we were not sure where to begin.
It does appear to be an immature insect, and we do not believe it is a larva of an insect with complete metamorphosis, which would eliminate the beetles.  Our gut instinct is that is looks like a member of the order Hemiptera, but the antennae seem wrong for that.  They are much longer than most members of the order.  Then we found an image on BugGuide of a Privet Leafhopper Nymph, Fieberiella florii, and it has enough similarities to your insect to embolden us that we are on the right track. Once we found an image on BugGuide of the nymph of a Leafhopper in the genus Gyponana, we felt we were close enough to the answer to post it and respond to you. Of the genus, BugGuide indicates:  “Very few species are readily identifiable based on external characters andPonana and Gypona nymphs are very similar but have dark markings.

Leafhopper Nymph

Letter 10 – Leafhopper Nymph from Canada: Coelidia olitoria

 

Subject: Looks like a cicada nymph, but it’s wingless and has pointed rear.
Location: Sarnia, Ontario. Canada
August 13, 2015 9:59 am
This bug weirded me out. It was on inside of van window, then I pulled over to inspect it. It looked like a crescent moon with legs and danced side to side. I managed to get this picture before it jumped on my shirt and my hubby knocked it off. Because I screamed so loud, I didn’t want to get on ground to look for it again. I didn’t want people thinking the wrong thing, so I drove away.
Signature: Tolerant of bugs I know of, terrified of unknown.

Leafhopper Nymph:  Coelidia olitoria
Leafhopper Nymph: Coelidia olitoria

Dear Tolerant,
We quickly identified your Leafhopper Nymph as
Coelidia olitoria on BugGuide, and this BugGuide posting mentions the side to side dance you witnessed.

Letter 11 – Magnolia Green Jumper and Scarlet and Green Leafhopper

 

Two bugs…
Hi there! A friend passed along your site and I’ve enjoyed the pictures and the descriptions. I have two bugs here that I’m dying to know what they are. Both were around 2-3cm in size. I appreciate any help. 🙂
Neil Schulman

Hi Neil,
Your photo of a male Magnolia Green Jumper, Lyssomanes viridis, it awesome. There is some information on BugGuide as well. Your colorful insect according to the Audubon Guide is a Scarlet and Green Leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea.

Letter 12 – Mating Candystriped Leafhoppers

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: Minneapolis, MN
August 9, 2014 7:25 pm
This photograph was taken 7-15-14 in Minneapolis, MN. The beetles are on a raspberry plant in our garden. (We had the rainiest June on record & July was also very rainy.) Curious to know what these are.
Signature: Jodie Walters

Mating Candystriped Leafhoppers
Mating Candystriped Leafhoppers

Dear Jodie,
Though they are colorful and quite pretty, these Candystriped Leafhoppers,
Graphocephala coccinea, are not beneficial insects in the garden.  Like Aphids, they are fluid sucking Hemipterans that might spread viral infections from plant to plant.  According to BugGuide:  “Several species [of Leafhoppers] are serious crop pests; some transmit plant pathogens (viruses, mycoplasma-like organisms, etc.)”  We are not certain if the Candystriped Leafhopper is one of the virus spreading species.  Dave’s Garden discusses the negative and neutral comments regarding the Candystriped Leafhopper.  According to the Boston Harbor Islands All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory:  “It is thought that candy-striped leafhoppers may be one of several leafhopper species that transmit the bacteria which cause Pierce’s disease between plants as they are feeding. This disease can kill grape vines and other woody plants.”

Letter 13 – Mating Sharpshooters

 

Leaf hopper love.
Location:  Staten Island, NY
August 21, 2010 9:17 am
I thought you might be interested in these pics of mating leaf hoppers
Spuds

Mating Sharpshooters

Hi Spuds,
We believe this may be our first photo of mating Leafhoppers.  Your Leafhoppers are Sharpshooters in the genus
Graphocephala.  They look like they might be Rhododendron Leafhoppers, Graphocephala fennahi, based on photos posted on BugGuide.

Letter 14 – More Unidentified Leafhoppers from Brasil

 

Help me to identify this one
I love your web page.
Thank You
Danilo Rivas
Brasil

Sadly, Danilo, we don’t know what species these Leafhoppers are either. Thank you for sending in such fascinating exotica from Brasil.

Update: (01/11/2007)
bug images on WTB
Dear Bugman, I enjoyed visiting your site. It really doesn’t compete with BugGuide.net, since you have posted lots of foreign insects that they bar from that site. For example, you have some really nice photos of the primitive treehopper Aetalion (which is tropical). I thought you might like to know about the following:
(3) The “unidentified leafhoppers” from Brazil are a sharpshooter (left) and a spittle bug (right). Sharpshooters are leafhoppers of the subfamily Cicadellinae that feed on very dilute sap, or mud puddles, and shoot out drops of excess water from their tail ends. Spittle bugs do not have the spiny hind legs of leafhoppers and sharpshooters.
Thanks for helping to spread an interest in Homoptera. We need to encourage the amateur.
Andy Hamilton

Letter 15 – Mystery Insect from South Africa is Restio Leafhopper

 

Subject: Unidentified reed insect
Location: Gifberg, South Africa (S 31.77 E 18.76)
April 1, 2014 2:41 pm
Dear bugman
I found this insect North of the Cederberg, in South Africa. It jumped into the open 4×4 truck window from some tall grasses/reeds we were driving through. It seemed capable of jumping, although its legs seem incapable of this feat. Any idea what it may be? I am from South Africa but never saw something like this before. Length was approx 20mm.
Signature: Francois

What's That Bug???
What’s That Bug???

Dear Francois,
This has to be one of the most unusual creatures we have ever been asked to identify, and we really don’t know where to begin regarding its classification, except that it is a Hexapod.  We haven’t the time to research this at this moment, so we are posting your photos and we will attempt the identification later today.  Perhaps our readership will take a stab at this while we are away from the office.

What's That Bug???
What’s That Bug???

Karl Identifies Leafhopper
Hi Daniel and Francois:
Given the submission date Daniel, it crossed my mind that you were perhaps being pranked with this one. However, it turns out to be a Restio Leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae: Subfamily Ulopinae: Tribe Cephalelini). These leafhoppers are native to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and the common name derives from the fact that all South African members of the Cephalelini are associated exclusively with the Restionaceae plant family. South Africa has 23 species of Restio Leafhoppers in four genera, 18 of which belong to the genus Cephalelus (so odds are that this is one). All the photos I was able to find showed winged individuals so I expect that this one is a juvenile. If you want to know how such a short-legged beast was able to jump into your truck you could check out this site (stop-action photos and description of Cephalelus in action). Regards. Karl

Eric Eaton Identifies Fulgorid Planthopper
Daniel:
Some kind of fulgoroid.  Will have to get back to you later with a more specific answer as I’ll have to look it up and/or query a colleague.
Eric

Update:  Restio Leafhopper
Ariella wrote today in a comment that this is a Restio Leafhopper,
Cephalelus uncinatus, a species pictured on ISpot.

Update from Chris Dietrich
It’s a nymph of the leafhopper (Cicadellidae) genus Cephalelus, which belongs to a tribe that is disjunct in South Africa and Australia.  They feed only on Restionaceae.
-Chris

 

Letter 16 – Mystery Leafhopper from Australia

 

Mystery Australian beastie PLUS BONUS BUG MURDER
Hi Bugman.
Love your work, and I’m overjoyed to have discovered your site – identifying bugs online is almost impossible as I’ve not found a handy online key thingy, e.g. Does it have 6 legs? Y/N, Does it have wings Y/N (where each Y and N is a link to the next question page, all the way to the final answer). Anyway, the mystery bugs are attached. Found in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney, Australia. Cool looking chap ain’t he? The special offer today is a few somewhat unfocused shots of a bee being impaled against a flyscreen by what looks like a big horsefly (taken at my home in Sydney). It has a huge proboscis that was pinning the poor honey bee down and appeared to be sucking the life out of it. The murderer flew off leaving the desiccated bee stuck to the screen. Many thanks in advance for your help,
Aidan
P.S. Will I get an email if you post your identification(s)?

Hi Aidan,
While researching your Mystery Treehopper, we stumbled upon an excellent site, but sadly, your specimen was not among the many pictured. The closest we could come is a Two Lined Gum Treehopper, Eurymeloides bicincta. Continued searching lead us to another site with Eurymeloides lineata and Eurymeloides pulchra which looks like a much better match. Your murderer is some species of Robber Fly.

Letter 17 – Pink Leafhopper

 

Subject:  Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 12:30 AM EDT
Please tell me what bug is this and if is dangerous thanks i (burnt the back have kids and couldn’t risk it)
How you want your letter signed:  Mr Jack

Pink Leafhopper

Dear Mr Jack,
This Pink Leafhopper, which might be
Gyponana gladia based on images posted to BugGuide, does not pose a threat to your children.  It is a plant feeding species.

Letter 18 – Pink Leafhopper Nymph may be Gyponana species

 

Subject: unknown pink colored bug
Location: Moorestown, NJ
July 25, 2015 7:13 pm
This bug was found in my flower garden on 7/25/15. I am not sure what it is, but it “pops” similar to a click beetle and is about 1/4-1/2″ long. I have been unable to find any information in any of the books that I have and was wondering if you have any suggestions?
I really enjoy your website and have learned a lot from looking through the information found here. Your hard work is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
Signature: Curious in NJ

Leafhopper Nymph
Leafhopper Nymph

Dear Curious in NJ,
Thanks for sending in the higher resolution images we requested.  This is a Leafhopper nymph, and immature individuals can be very difficult to identify with certainty.  We suspect based on its resemblance to this BugGuide image, that your individual may be an immature
Gyponana species.  This BugGuide image of Gyponana tenella is a strong candidate for your species.

Leafhopper Nymph
Leafhopper Nymph

Thank you very much for your time.  I really appreciate the information. My grandfather was an entomologist for many years and instilled a love of bugs in me as well.  I think the work you do on this website is really amazing!  Please keep the information available for all to find!
Thank you again,
Brenda Emmert

Letter 19 – Probably Leafhoppers or Spittle Bugs

 

Subject: small insects larger than a flea but jump like fleas
Location: North DFW, TX
November 30, 2013 3:29 pm
Hello bugman,
I have scoured your site to try and find something similar to the bugs that cover my home and do their best to get inside. The closest thing I have come to in all your articles is the Springtail, however, no picture of a Springtail looks like the bugs I am having a problem with. I live in the Dallas, TX area and these bugs first appeared when it was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit outside. It has been cooling down lately with highs in the low 40’s and they’d seemed to have disappeared but today the high got just above 50 degrees and bam they are back. They are small bugs that jump, not fly. Although it appears that they have wings on their back they do not fly, they crawl rather slowly and jump from time to time. When they land, say on my arm, they may begin to crawl or may stay still but I can swat them or brush them off with little effort, they don’t even try to get out of the way, almost like they can’t see. They are also very fragile, if I try to b rush them off of a surface they just smush and smear instead of slide off the surface (including flat smooth surfaces like glass). They are small enough to fit through screens on a window but they then just seem content to chill out on the screen, not super active. They are however plentiful and when I open my sliding glass door on the back porch it seems that the breeze that occurs brings at least 5-10 in and they grab onto my clothes or the curtains or the inside of the door. I hope this helps.
Signature: Ross

Probably Leafhopper or Spittle Bug
Probably Leafhopper or Spittle Bug

Hi Ross,
We cannot make a definitive identification because of the lack of clarity and the poor quality of your photo, however, based on your description and the outline of the insect in the photo, we believe this is some type of Free Living Hemipteran, like a Leafhopper or Spittle Bug.  We have many native species, however, there are increasing numbers of invasive species that are being introduced from exotic lands, and once established, they have no natural enemies.  Many Leafhoppers and other Hemipterans are considered to be significant agricultural pests.

Letter 20 – Red Banded Leafhopper

 

Identify this bug please and thankyou.
Hello:
I have come across several of these bugs in my backyard today, that I have not seen before and I am curious to what they are. They are very beautiful and only about 3/8" to 1/2" long. They fly. They have yellowundersides, legs and head with 2 pink spots on top of their head. The wings are a deep pink with lighter bluish pink stripes. They have a black stripe going from one side of the head all the way around to the other side of the head, thinning out around the mouth area. Sorry, that I couldn’t get better photos, only have a video camera and it cannot take closer shots. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

I got a much closer look at these bugs and they are a deep fushia pink with lighter blue stripes on the wings. Sorry about that. I had to use the zoom on my camera and the defination is not very fine. On the back view of the bug the lighter pink stripes are actually blue. Thank you very much.
Darlene Johnson in Mt. Elgin, Ontario, Canada

Hi Darlene,
This is one of the Leafhoppers in the Family Cicadellidae. It looks to be the Red Banded Leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea. Though beautiful, they can be destructive if numerous since they are sucking insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can also spread viruses from plant to plant.

Letter 21 – Scarlet and Green Leafhopper

 

leaf hopper
Hello Folks! I have spent the summer photographing the different insects at my local conservation area and quickly the hobby became a passion. Your site has helped immensely in identifying them and also fueling my interest! One of the challenges has been to get a clear photograph of the smallest of all the insects I see – the scarlet and blue leafhopper.
Take Care,
Janet from Dundas, Ontario

Hi Janet,
So nice to see your diligence has paid off with a wonderful photograph and we get to reap the benefits of your labors. The Scarlet and Green Leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea, is found in the eastern areas of the U.S. and adjacent areas of Canada. It has sucking mouthparts and injects saliva into plants which blocks tubes for the transportation of sap, often causing plants to wither and drop leaves.

Letter 22 – Scarlet and Green Leafhoppers Mating

 

Red and Teal
Hi,
I’ve seen this red and blue colored moth-like insect onmy morning glory leaves in summer. It’s head seems to be underneath the tribal mask looking wings. I live in Massachusetts. I’ve attached a picture of this interesting specimine. I would just like to know what it is. It took me 21 years of living in the same place to come upon it.
Thank you
Tom

Hi Tom,
What a beautiful image of Scarlet and Green Leafhoppers, Graphocephala coccinea, mating. They feed on the juices of weeds and cultivated plants. When they feed, they inject saliva into the plant which inhibits the sap from running, eventually resulting in wilting and leaf drop.

Letter 23 – Possibly Parthenogenic Leafhopper from Australia

 

STRANGE AUSSIE HEMIPTERAN
Sun, Nov 16, 2008 at 3:25 AM
what is this odd looking thing? found in eastern Australia.
cheers,
Olga

????????? from Australia
Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) from Australia

Hi Olga,
This is a mystery. We have had no luck after about an hour of internet searching. We will post and hope to get an answer from someone. There is a resemblance to the Fulgorid Planthopper known as the Peanut Headed Bug, Fulgora laternaria , but it lives in the new world.

????????? from Australia
Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) from Australia

Unknown Australian Fulgoroid
Sun, Nov 16, 2008 at 7:51 PM
Hi Daniel,
Eastern Australia is a pretty big place, similar to saying Eastern United States really. A location and a size reference may be helpful. Just to give you an idea, here is the list of fulgoroids from one Eastern state, New South Wales, alone. Many of the links on this page open up to lists about the same size just for variations of that one type.
http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/fulgor/
If you can get some more information about location, time when it was found, eg did it come to a light at night or was it on a shrub during the day, and approximate size. I may be able to get an ID for you. It may be a lanternfly also.
regards,
Trevor

There is a tribe of plant hoppers called Thymbrini, the largest of which is Rhotidus which is brown with a triangular head. Could be . . .? These sites might help make the identification:
http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/leafhop/ledrinae/thym00.htm
(an online key to identification)
http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_cicadas/Ledrinae.htm

http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/leafhop/cicaspp/rtelefor.htm (one of those horrible photos of a pinned dead insect, but might help
Grev

Unknown Leafhopper from Australia
Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) from Australia

Hi Daniel,
It flew into my fathers windscreen while he was driving around a very bushy area near Jarvis Bay. Thats down the coast from Sydney. This was in the early afternoon. I have attached some more detailed pictures for aid in identification. Unfortunately the little bugger has since died and will now be preserved in a collection. I hope someone will be able to identify it! 🙂
Cheers,
Olga

Unknown Planthopper from Australia
Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) from Australia

Hi Olga,
Thanks for sending additional information and images. You should bookmark our posting and continue to check as people can provide comments. Our newly metamorphosed website allows for comments to be sent to the originator of the posting when that post is sent using a form. Since you contacted us through regular email, you will not receive those updates. We expect that one day, this truly unique Planthopper will be identified to the species level.

Unknown Planthopper from Australia
Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) from Australia

Hullo Daniel,
I think the mysterious bug is leafhopper Ledromorpha planirostris. No male has ever been photographed, only males. Is it parthenogenic the scientists ask?
I’ve posted link in the comments box.
Kind regards,
Grev

By George Grev,
We do believe you’ve got it right.  What an awesome addition to our website.

Letter 24 – Leafhopper Nymph from India

 

Subject:  ID PLease
Location:  Dibrugarh, Assam, India
February 3, 2014
Sir,
I have found these two unknown insects in Dibrugarh, Assam, India but
don’t know the name.
So would like to know the name.
Regards,
Jeet Saikia,
Bangalore. India.

What's That Bug???
What’s That Bug???

Hi again Jeet,
We are uncertain of the identity of your green insect.  We believe it is in the same order as the Planthopper, which is Hemiptera, but we are not certain.  It shares many similarities with this immature Glassy Winged Sharpshooter on BugGuide.  We haven’t the time for research, so we are posting your request, and perhaps one of our readers will have an idea.

Hi Daniel,
Reference to your second mail, the green insect is small in size. Say
like 1cm (max) and body is flatten.
Hope this will help you to identify this creature.
Regards,
Jeet Saikia,
Bangalore. India.

Subject: green insect posted by Jeet Saitura
February 10, 2014 11:54 am
larva (nymph) of Cicadellidae,  identical with or (more probably) related to genus Ledropsis:
http://aoki2.si.gunma-u.ac.jp/youtyuu/HTMLs/komimizuku.html
Signature: Erwin M. Beyer

Thanks Erwin,
Nymphs are notoriously difficult to identify to the species level, but the link you provided looks very similar.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

33 thoughts on “Leafhopper Damage: All You Need to Know for Healthy Plants”

  1. There is a tribe of plant hoppers called Thymbrini, the largest of which is Rhotidus which is brown with a triangular head. Could be . . .?

    These sites might help make the identification:

    http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/leafhop/ledrinae/thym00.htm (an online key to identification)

    http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_cicadas/Ledrinae.htm

    http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/leafhop/cicaspp/rtelefor.htm (one of those horrible photos of a pinned dead insect, but might help).

    Reply
  2. i have a very very similar bug in my room right now, i have just photographed it and trying to work out how to upload…
    i am in the Kimberly region of Australia.
    are we supposed to have these strange little things here??

    Reply
  3. The entomologist Richard Jones (@bugmanjones) on Twitter said perhaps a leafhopper nymph family fulgoridae. I saw there are some similar looking examples on google image search…

    Reply
  4. Hi Francois

    This is a pretty awesome little Hemipteran called a Restio Leafhopper. The genus is Cephalelus, and they’re so flat and elongated because they flatten themselves against restio stems in order to mimic the leaf bracts (restios are reed-like plants). They are indeed unable to jump. I’m always hoping to find one but, alas, have so far been unlucky.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for providing this information. We have been away from the office all day and we are approving your comments.

      Reply
  5. Hi Francois

    This is a pretty awesome little Hemipteran called a Restio Leafhopper. The genus is Cephalelus, and they’re so flat and elongated because they flatten themselves against restio stems in order to mimic the leaf bracts (restios are reed-like plants). They are indeed unable to jump. I’m always hoping to find one but, alas, have so far been unlucky.

    Reply
  6. PS. Just saw your comment that it jumped into your vehicle. Did you see it jump? Would be interesting, since the insect guide book says that they are incapable of jumping.

    Reply
  7. I’m certain that this is plant hopper. If I had to guess, I would say it’s a Cicadellid in the tribe Cephalelini which is found in Africa and Australia. I can’t tell from the picture if it is a nymph or maybe a brachypterous adult, but it sure is a cool bug!

    Reply
  8. Just a bit of information about controlling these beautiful pests. I had the same problem (upstate NY) and placed a potted catnip plant under the raspberry and *poof*, they’re gone. Hope this is helpful.

    –chris

    Reply
  9. Just a bit of information about controlling these beautiful pests. I had the same problem (upstate NY) and placed a potted catnip plant under the raspberry and *poof*, they’re gone. Hope this is helpful.

    –chris

    Reply
  10. The nymph is a restio leafhopper from the genus Cephalelus. My guess: C. angustatus or C. uncinatus. Hoppers from the other South African genus, Duospina, have much shorter crowns (i.e. the nose like part). For references see paper posted by Chris.

    Reply
  11. Good guess, it is a nymph. Even unwinged adults in this group have elytra-like forewings. Only the females sometimes have wings. When they do have wings, the most obvious feature is a very swollen pronotum (where the wing muscles are located I guess).

    You can find this information in: Davies DM. 1988. Leafhoppers (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) associated with the Restionaceae, 1. The tribe Cephalelini (Ulopinae). Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa. 51: 31-64

    Reply
  12. Good guess, it is a nymph. Even unwinged adults in this group have elytra-like forewings. Only the females sometimes have wings. When they do have wings, the most obvious feature is a very swollen pronotum (where the wing muscles are located I guess).

    You can find this information in: Davies DM. 1988. Leafhoppers (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) associated with the Restionaceae, 1. The tribe Cephalelini (Ulopinae). Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa. 51: 31-64

    Reply
  13. With the help of Dr Jim Lewis of the Museo Nacional of Costa Rica and Dr Jan Janzen this has been identified as Sinuala tuberculata in the Fulgoridae.

    Reply
  14. I have no photo, but hopefully you will recognize the descriptiom.
    On my tomato plant there was a fine rust colored net with busy, very small insects , rushing about. As the days passed many leaves and stems were covered with a whitish frost. They began to wither. I have tied to wash with soapy water to repel the insects, but more tomatoes and leaves are covered with the white frost. I don’t see anymore rust colored insects or web.

    a fine web in which tiny (much smaller than an ant) insects are scurying about

    Reply
  15. I have just recorded 20 seconds of a Candy-striped Leafhopper on a Zenia leaf, shooting tiny droplets of some substance into the air one after the other. Is this most likely a female disbursing eggs, or, one of the sexes releasing a mating-scent? Your thoughts would be appreciated! Matt

    Reply

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