Among all the insects that are in our gardens and in our vegetable gardens, the leafhoppers they might seem to be among the most harmless due to their name and also their appearance, but they can lead to considerable damage, especially to aromatic plants such as rosemary or lavender, but also to tomato seedlings.
What are leafhoppers
With the name of leafhoppers we are not simply going to indicate dwarf cicadas but hemiptera insects a few millimeters long and characterized by a mouthparts very powerful, especially in comparison to the size. This apparatus stings and sucks and it is used by the leafhoppers to feed, is their only way to be able to steal the sap from the plants and feed on it. You can already imagine what kind of damage they can create in our vegetable garden and in our gardens ...
In order to blend well with the plants, these insects, albeit small, have decided to adopt the green color in general, but then as the species varies we can also meet specimens of different color, especially as regards the head and wings.
Their body is not at all easy to identify because it is quite narrow and thin, even more difficult is to identify their eggs which are really microscopic. Once they hatch the leafhoppers cross well five stages young to adulthood but there are very few differences between one phase and another of growth. To evolve and become "big", they feed on the plants that host them, they are polyphagous and appreciate both herbaceous and arboreal ones, both wild and cultivated. Thanks to them ability to move, they can also move from one plant to another and there is no season that intimidates them, they are a danger to our garden 365 days a year.
Among all the varieties of leafhoppers present in Italy, the ones that need to worry most are the Eupteryx salviae which, as the name suggests, are mainly present on sage and other aromatic herbs such as rosemary. They are little animals that greatly appreciate our Mediterranean climate and therefore, especially in spring and summer, they populate the areas of Central and Southern Italy. The greatest damages can usually be detected starting from May and throughout the months of June or July but are present all year round, covering this long period of time with at least two generations.
Damage caused by leafhoppers on rosemary
We can intuitively imagine the type of damage that these insects can cause only in part because they are able to ruin the plant even indirectly as well as indirectly. Direct damages are those due to their feeding on the lymph with themouthparts ferocious that they find themselves. They attach themselves to the plant, prick it, and then suck out its vital fluid. As if that weren't enough, there are also indirect damages linked to the fact that these insects, some species, are able to carry viruses, bacteria, and phytoplasmas so if they happen to an infected plant then they carry the problem with them and propagate it.
The damage created by leafhoppers it can be more or less huge as the species with which we also do vary. One of the most terrible is it Scaphoideus titanus which usually takes it out on the vine to which it can transmit the phytoplasma causative agent of the golden Flavescence of the vine. This is a problem of considerable size of this plant and it is for this reason that the leafhopper is subject to compulsory struggle by ministerial decree.
When this insect attacks rosemary you can see the signs on the leaves that change their color where they are pricked. Then there are the leafhoppers of the species Cicadella viridis which can also cause problems in between of oviposition linked to an abundant production of wax and honeydew on the fruits.
Leafhopper attacks do not always lead to the death of the plant, if they arrive in a minimum number they cause damage but not fatal, but if the infestation is strong, then you can witness the drying out and to the curling of the leaves until their complete fall. It is clear that in these cases the plant totally loses its value and if we expected to flavor our dishes with a few leaves of rosemary, we can forget it. If it happens to an aromatic plant grower, it is a real problem because they almost totally lose value.
Natural remedies against leafhoppers
As soon as we see appear, or we notice the presence of the first colonizations of leafhoppers it is necessary to intervene, we usually see bites on the leaves. The first attempt to fight these insects must preferentially be made with low toxicity plant protection products with a short period of lack. We can also focus on the use of parasitoids like the Hymenoptera of the genus Anagrus, which act in the following way. They develop inside the egg of leafhoppers, they remain there for their full life cycle and do not allow them to hatch.
In this way we can block the attacks of leafhoppers. To implement this type of natural struggle we must think of inserting associated plants that can host these parasitoids of eggs.
Always ranging from the range of natural remedies we have at our disposal, we can focus on some products such as the macerated nettle, also useful as foliar fertilization because it is rich in nitrogen, or the macerate of tomato or horsetail leaves. Among the recommended chemical products, we can find fenitrothion, buprofezin and flufenoxuron, also suggested for compulsory fight.
Pyrethrum against leafhoppers
Among the natural products for the fight against leafhoppers we can also find those based on pyrethrum, easy to find and very effective. It is also possible to purchase packs conveniently on Amazon through this link.
If you are interested in the enemies of your vegetable garden or garden you can also read our related articles:
- Tomato moth
- Psylla of the pear tree