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How to identify leafhoppers

Leafhoppers are a destructive species of pest known to suck sap from plants and cause plant diseases such as sooty mold.

Leafhoppers are kind of leaf shaped with a big head, large compound eyes, the body tapers down to a point, with adults having wings. They also have large hind legs that fold under them, these are powerful jumping legs.

Only a keen eye will be able to spot a leafhopper insect as most are very small, measuring less than a centimetre in length as an adult bug, and only reaching two or three millimetres at most.

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Leafhopper is the common name given to any one of the family of insects called Cicadellidae, of which there are over 20 000 described species.

The most leafhoppers are drab coloured, in various shades of green and brown, but there are some brightly coloured ones like the black and blue leafhopper pictured. Black and blue plant hoppers also have a bright red colour under their wings.

These insects go through a partial metamorphosis, basically keeping the same form after hatching, just shedding their exoskeleton a few times before becoming an adult.

Leafhoppers are excessively plant feeders, feeding on the sap of grass, shrubs and trees. A few species can become pests or even vectors (carriers) of plant based viruses. There are a few different species of insects that look very similar to leaf-hoppers including plant-hoppers, frog-hoppers and Cicadas.

Contact Warren Dick on 072 211 0353 to have some of your interesting insects, snakes or spiders identified. Visit his Facebook page, Warren’s Small World.



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