Passion Vine Hopper: All You Need to Know – A Quick & Informative Guide

The Passion Vine Hopper is an intriguing insect that has captured the interest of many gardeners and nature enthusiasts. As a sap-sucking bug, it feeds on various plants, primarily focusing on the passionflower vine (Passiflora species). Originating from warmer climates, they’ve become a common sight in gardens across the United States and beyond. With their delicate appearance and interesting life cycle, it’s no surprise that the Passion Vine Hopper has gained such attention.

However, the Passion Vine Hopper is not just a pretty face – it can cause harm to the plants they inhabit. Gardeners must be vigilant when it comes to spotting and managing these insects as they can weaken the plants and leave them susceptible to diseases. Understanding their lifecycle, feeding habits, and how to manage them is crucial for maintaining a healthy garden. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the fascinating Passion Vine Hopper.

Passion Vine Hopper: Overview

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the Passion Vine Hopper (Scolypopa australis) consists of two main stages: nymphs and adults. They typically complete their life cycle within a year.

  • Nymphs:
    • Found in warmer months
    • Develop into adults
  • Adults:
    • Lay eggs in late summer
    • Die off in winter

Physical Features

The physical features of Passion Vine Hoppers vary between nymphs and adults.

Nymphs:

  • Small and wingless
  • Bright green or yellow-green

Adults:

  • Larger, up to 6.2 mm in length
  • Mottled brown with wings
  • Characteristics include a clypeus, compound eyes, piercing and sucking mouthparts, and antennae

Distribution: New Zealand and Australia

Passion Vine Hoppers are common in New Zealand and Australia, where they infest various plants, including the native passion vine.

Location Passion Vine Hopper Prevalence
New Zealand Common
Australia Common

Habitat and Host Plants

Ideal Plant Targets

The Passion Vine Hopper, or Scolypopa australis, is a small insect native to Australia and New Zealand. They are frequently found in gardens, parks, and other areas with host plants. Their preferred host plants include ferns, citrus trees, avocado, grape, and passion vines, among others. Some examples of their preferred plants are:

  • Passion vines (Passiflora)
  • Citrus trees (e.g. oranges, lemons)
  • Avocado trees
  • Ferns
  • Grapevines

These insects feed on the sap of host plants, leaving behind a sticky residue called “honeydew,” which can cause sooty mold to grow on leaves and fruit. Passion Vine Hoppers have wings and can fly, allowing them to easily move between different plant targets.

Impact on Kiwifruit Industry

In recent years, Passion Vine Hoppers have become a significant pest for the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand. These insects feed on the sap of kiwifruit plants, causing damage to the leaves and fruit. The following table compares the impacts of Passion Vine Hoppers on kiwifruit and other host plants:

Plant Impact
Kiwifruit Severe damage to leaves and fruit; economic losses
Citrus Leaf damage; reduced fruit quality
Avocado Damage to leaves and young fruit; reduced fruit quality
Grape Leaf damage; honeydew contamination; sooty mold growth
Passionfruit Leaf damage; honeydew contamination; reduced fruit quality

Kiwifruit growers need to be vigilant in monitoring and managing Passion Vine Hopper populations to maintain healthy plants and good fruit quality. Regular inspection and application of appropriate pest management techniques can help control the Passion Vine Hopper population and minimize its impact on the kiwifruit industry.

Feeding Habits and Damage

Effects on Plants

Passion vine hoppers, both nymphs and adults, can cause damage to a variety of plants. They feed on plant sap by piercing the leaves and shoots, leading to:

  • Yellowing and dwarfing of plants
  • Distorted foliage
  • Abnormal production of shoots

For example, aster yellows, a disease spread by leafhoppers, can damage carrots, celery, lettuce, and potatoes.

Honeydew Production and Sooty Mould

As they feed, passion vine hoppers excrete honeydew, a sugary substance that:

  • Attracts ants
  • Can cause honey poisoning in humans if contaminated honey is ingested
  • Leads to the growth of sooty mould

Sooty mould is a black fungus that grows on honeydew residues and can:

  • Stunt plant growth
  • Cause leaves to drop prematurely
  • Reduce photosynthesis due to its dark color
Comparison Passion Vine Hopper Other Pests
Feeding Method Sap-feeders Varies
Honeydew Yes Sometimes
Sooty Mould Possible Possible

Effectiveness of Fertilizers

  • Higher nitrogen: May result in a higher susceptibility to infestation
  • Organic fertilizers: Can offer a more balanced and less attractive nutrient profile for hoppers

Lifespan and Reproduction

  • Females deposit eggs in leaf midribs and shoots
  • Fluffy bums: The nymph stage, during which they are difficult to control

Management Strategies

  • Regularly inspect plants during the summer months
  • Remove affected leaves and shoots
  • Encourage the presence of natural enemies, such as lady beetles
  • Avoid over-fertilization, as excess fertilizer may contribute to pest problems

Prevention and Control Methods

Beneficial Predator Insects

One way to control passion vine hoppers is by introducing beneficial predator insects. Some examples of these predators are:

  • Lacewings: feed on the nymphs and adults of the pest
  • Ladybugs: consume large numbers of the pest, especially nymphs
  • Minute pirate bugs: feed on nymphs and adults, improving control

Encourage these predators by planting flowers such as alyssum, borage, and sunflowers.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is another effective method to control passion vine hoppers. Here are a few recommended plants:

  • Lavender: repels pests and attracts beneficial insects like bees
  • Hyssop: attracts parasitoid wasps and helps control pests
  • Coriaria: the passion vine hopper’s preferred host plant, can be used as a trap crop

Plant these companions near your passion vines to help protect them.

Chemical Control

In some cases, chemical control may be necessary, especially if early intervention methods were unsuccessful. Some options to consider are:

  • Aquaticus Garden Booster: an environmentally friendly pesticide that can help control passion vine hoppers
  • Insecticidal soap: a milder solution that targets soft-bodied pests like hopper nymphs

Remember to always follow label instructions and avoid using chemicals that harm beneficial insects.

Control Method Pros Cons
Beneficial Insects Natural, sustainable Takes time to establish
Companion Planting Increases plant diversity, low maintenance Limited effectiveness
Chemical Control Fast-acting, effective Can harm beneficial insects

Authors

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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