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Potato leafhopper

By: Garden Gate staff
You may never have seen a potato leafhopper up close before. They move quickly, scuttling sideways to hide under leaves, or simply flying to another plant.

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Potato leafhopper Empoasca fabae

IDENTIFICATION — You may never have seen a potato leafhopper up close before. They move quickly, scuttling sideways to hide under leaves, or simply flying to another plant. But if you can catch one, you’ll see that they’re pale green, 1/8-in. long and taper from the head in a wedge shape. There can be three or four life cycles in any location over a summer.

DAMAGE — Potatoes, eggplants, grapes, fruit trees and a range of shade trees — red maple, oak, redbud and hawthorn to name a few — are targets of these little pests. Leafhoppers feed by piercing leaves and sucking fluids out of the plant. Some plants show only a bit of spotting on the leves, but others may have leaves that turn brown at the edges and tips, and then die.

CONTROL — If you see symptoms or insects, spray the plants. Insecticidal soap works on leafhoppers, but it can be difficult to coat the entire insect because they move so quickly. Most systemic insecticides will take care of the problem (but don’t use these on edibles). Just read the label to be sure.

Published: Sept. 16, 2008
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