Leafhopper Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Leafhoppers

From the wild forests to a home garden, leafhoppers can appear almost anywhere. They will extract the juice of their host plants, which deprives the latter of the nutrients that are essential for its survival. They also have toxic saliva, which can damage plants beyond aesthetics. Given the fact that it is a destructive pest, it is vital to know how to get rid of leafhoppers.

Colorful Leafhopper

A colorful leafhopper on a leaf

The appearance of leafhoppers will vary depending on their stage of development. Their eggs are tiny, which is why they are almost impossible to see. The nymph, on the other hand, is similar to an adult leafhopper with one of the main differences being the absence of wings. Upon reaching full maturity, the insect grows to a length of up to .5 inch. They have a slender, brown body and wings that make their body wedge-shaped. At this stage, they have the ability to jump from one leaf to another, making it easier to spread damage.

Leafhopper’s Habitat

Wherever there is leafy vegetation, leafhoppers can appear. They survive in almost all ecosystems, although they are more common in places with tropical and temperate climate. Aside from the garden, you can also find leafhoppers in the desert, wetlands, forests, and agricultural plantations, among others. Adults start laying their eggs in spring, just in time for the appearance of leaves in many plants. From egg to adulthood, it only takes roughly three weeks. They feed mostly on the underside of the leaves of the host plant, which is why the latter is usually the first one that shows visible signs of damage.

Identifying Leafhopper’s Damage

Plants Affected

Because this pest survives almost everywhere, it affects a wide array of plants. Some of its most common hosts include potato, pumpkin, apple, eggplant, celery, cucumber, tomato, sugar beet, carrot, grape, onion, squash, and roses. The infestation is also serious in vineyards.


Here are some of the most common signs that leafhoppers are present:

  • One of the first signs of leafhopper damage is apparent on the leaves. The pest sucks the underside of the leaves, which is why it will end up with holes. This is not only unattractive, but also deprives the plant of the nutrients it requires.
  • Aside from the holes, the color of the leaves will also change. From bright green, it will turn to brown or gray, similar to dry leaves. One of the reasons for the discoloration is the inability to absorb nutrients.
  • Hopper burn will also be apparent, which refers to the yellowing at the top of the leaves. At first, it only changes the color, but eventually, this will cause the leaves to fall on the ground. In severe instances, the host plant will suffer from deforestation.

Results of Infestation

Among others, one of the most common damages from leafhoppers is the halting of the growth of the affected plant. When the pests attack when the plant is still young, it might end up suffering from stunting. It will not reach its full height and will also demonstrate loss of vigor. They also have a huge ecological impact, especially for those who are in the field of agriculture. When the damage is at its worst, the crops will be unmarketable and no longer fit for human consumption. This equates to huge financial losses, depending on the extent of the infestation.

Damaged Potato

Potato Leaves Damaged by Leafhoppers

How to Get Rid of Leafhoppers

Natural and Organic Solutions

Below are some of the best methods for the elimination of leafhoppers in a manner that is safe and effective:

  • One of the best control measures is to use a physical barrier that will protect the plant from leafhoppers. With this, the use of front row cover is an excellent idea. It will prevent the damages from the pest, although this solution will work only for plants that do not need pollination.
  • Sticky trap is a simple and cost-effective solution that is also promising. You can leave it hanging in the host plant. A double-sided tape is also good. Shake the plant vigorously and this will let the leafhoppers fall.
  • If the plant is rigid, spraying water is another excellent way to get rid of leafhoppers. This will loosen the nymphs from the leaves of the host. After this, be sure to manually pick the nymphs to prevent them from causing more damages when they fully mature. Throw them in a solution of soapy water and do not just discard it anywhere.
  • It will also help to remove the trash and any decaying vegetation in the garden. They will provide leafhoppers with an attractive habitat, and hence, will encourage the growth of their population. Cleaning and maintenance of the garden are necessary to keep these pests away from your plants.
  • There are also natural enemies that will help to keep the population in check. This solution, however, will work best only in the garden or in a place wherein the presence is not that severe. Anagrus erythroneurae is one of the most common. This parasite kills the eggs even before it hatches. Aside from this, it will also help to encourage the presence of green lacewings, lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, and spiders. Consider having plants that will attract these parasites in the garden.

Chemical Solutions

There are many insecticides that are equally promising in the control and elimination of leafhoppers. They have several active ingredients that kill the pest upon making contact. Using natural enemies may not yield a high level of effectiveness, which is exactly the reason why many would rather resort to the use of chemical pesticides. Some of the most common active ingredients that you should look for include carbaryl, diazinon, and malathion. Use these chemicals in moderation and only after trying the natural and organic solutions.

How to Prevent Leafhoppers

Among others, the best way to prevent leafhoppers is to keep your plants in their tip-top condition. You need to exert conscious effort to make them healthy, and hence, increasing their resistance from a variety of pests and diseases. This will not only allow them to tolerate the insect, but will also allow them to recover in a manner that is speedy.

Early detection of leafhoppers is also necessary. Learn about their physical characteristics so that you can easily spot them in the garden. Once you are sure that they are present, this gives you the green light to take advantage of the control measures that we have listed above.

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