Leaf hoppers, alternatively referred to as tree hoppers or plant hoppers, are troublesome insects that extract sap from different plant components such as leaves, twigs, and stems. They possess modified hind legs that enable them to leap whenever they are disrupted.

These insects are commonly designated by the name of the host plant or plant family they target. Examples include the beet leaf hopper, rice green leaf hoppers, maize green leaf hoppers, grape leaf hoppers, and variegated leaf hoppers.

Apart from being pests, these leaf hoppers also act as carriers for numerous plant viruses and phytoplasms, thus posing an additional threat to crops.

LIFE CYCLE

Leaf hoppers experience incomplete metamorphosis, progressing from hatching out of eggs to developing through multiple nymphal stages until they reach adulthood.

The female leaf hoppers lay their eggs on the veins found on the underside of leaves or any tender plant tissue. Typically, around 100 eggs are deposited, although the exact number may vary depending on the temperature.

The eggs, once inserted into the tissue, create small injuries that resemble pimples, which are more conspicuous than the insects themselves. After a period of 6-9 days, hatching commences when the temperature rises sufficiently, giving rise to wingless nymphs. These nymphs go through five stages of growth, known as instars, before reaching maturity.

During the later instars, the nymphs closely resemble the adults except for the absence of wings. Within a span of 2-7 weeks, the adults emerge and begin feeding by piercing the plant parts and extracting sap.

Leaf hoppers have different overwintering strategies: they either survive as eggs on twigs or as adults hiding beneath the bark of the host plant.

The entire process from egg to adult takes approximately three weeks. Multiple generations of leaf hoppers can overlap and be completed during the growing season.

DESCRIPTION

Adults

Leaf hoppers exhibit a slender and wedge-shaped body, measuring around 1/4 inch in length. They display a diverse range of body colors, including green, yellow, and brown, often with mottled patterns.

While many species possess vibrant and eye-catching hues, others blend in with the coloration of their host plants.

Characteristically, leaf hoppers feature antennae with red tips and two tube-like structures that extend from their hind end.

Certain species display small brown or black spots located between the eyes on the front margin of the head’s crown. In contrast, others exhibit two small black spots and brown markings extending from behind the eyes and along the body.

Eggs

They possess an elongated and oval shape, measuring approximately 0.3-0.5 mm in length and 0.1 mm in width.

Nymphs

Resembling miniature versions of adult leaf hoppers, these individuals lack wings and exhibit a tendency to leap when disturbed.

In the early stages of nymph development, they display a pale green to yellow coloration. As they progress to the later nymphal instars, they adopt a darker hue, resembling the appearance of adult leaf hoppers.

DAMAGE

Leaf hoppers are detrimental pests that feed on plant sap, leading to various damages on the host crop.

Their feeding behavior is evident through the presence of light-colored speckles on the plant leaves. By extracting sap and plant juices from within the plant tissue, they gradually reduce the plant’s vitality, resulting in browning of the leaves over time.

Although the damage inflicted by leaf hoppers is typically not severe enough to seriously harm fully grown plants, their feeding can stunt the growth and deform young plants or new growth.

The toxic saliva they inject into plants causes stippling, paleness, or browning of the leaves. Infested shoots may curl and perish, while the tips of affected leaves often exhibit yellowing in a diamond-like pattern.

MANAGEMENT

Chemical method

The following insecticides are suitable for controlling leaf hoppers:

  • PRESENTO 200SP: Mix 5g with 20 liters of water.
  • KINGCODE ELITE 50EC: Mix 10ml with 20 liters of water.
  • SINOPHATE 750SP: Mix 20g with 20 liters of water.
  • LEXUS 247SC: Mix 8ml with 20 liters of water.
  • AMAZING TOP 100WDG: Mix 5g with 20 liters of water.
  • DEFENDER 25EC: Mix 40ml with 20 liters of water.
  • EMERALD GOLD 700WP: Mix 5g with 20 liters of water.
  • PROFILE 440EC: Mix 30ml with 20 liters of water.
  • LEGACY 50EC: Mix 15ml with 20 liters of water.
  • EMERALD 200SL: Mix 10ml with 20 liters of water.
  • LOYALTY 700WDG: Mix 5g with 20 liters of water.

These insecticides can be used effectively against leaf hoppers when following the specified mixing ratios.

Non-chemical methods

Here are some non-chemical methods for managing leaf hoppers:

  • Remove garden debris and trash after harvesting to eliminate overwintering sites.
  • Plant crops at a distance from favored host plants.
  • Consider planting companion crops like marigold and geraniums, which can deter leaf hoppers.
  • Utilize floating row covers as a physical barrier to prevent leaf hoppers from causing damage to plants.
  • Introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs, which are natural predators of leaf hopper eggs and young larvae.
  • Opt for resistant cultivars of plants that are less susceptible to leaf hopper infestations.
  • Practice crop rotations with non-host plants to disrupt the life cycle of leaf hoppers.

Helpful Tips:

  • Enhance the efficacy of insecticides by mixing them with INTEGRA at a rate of 3ml per 20 liters. INTEGRA acts as a sticker, wetter, spreader, and penetrant.
  • It’s important to apply multiple sprays for effective control, as a single application may not be sufficient.
  • Timely management of leaf hoppers is crucial to minimize damage to crops.

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