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Empoasca solana (DeLong)

Southern Garden Leaf hopper
Hosts Distribution Damage Biology Behavior Management Reference


Jayma L. Martin Kessing, Educational Specialist

Ronald F.L. Mau, Extension Entomologist

Department of Entomology

Honolulu, Hawaii

Updated by: J.M. Diez April 2007


This leafhopper attacks many crops including: banana, beet, blackeye bean, celery, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, garden bean, green bean, lettuce, lima beans, melon, papaya, peanut, potato, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomato, and watermelon. Yellow cosmos and other ornamental plants are also hosts. Several weeds, such as amaranth, castor bean, and Datura, are reservoir hosts of this pest.


The southern garden leafhopper is a widespread pest throughout North America. The exact world distribution of this leafhopper is unknown because of the difficulty in differentiating between the Empoasca species. However, records of Empoasca species indicate it may be present in Central and South America, Europe, Asia and South Africa (DeLong, 1931). The southern green leafhopper has been present on Oahu since 1918 (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945) and is currently present on all major Hawaiian islands where it is particularly a pest of lower elevations.


Nymphs and adults suck sap from the phloem of plants (Poos and Wheeler, 1943), usually from the under surfaces of the leaves. This leafhopper produces a toxicogenic disease called hopperburn when the digestive juices of the insect react with plant tissue. Hopperburn is characterized by yellowing, chlorotic stippling and leaf malformation (Zimmerman, 1948) and tip burn (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945). These symptoms are frequently found on the weed, spiny amaranth (Carter, 1936). Hopperburn has been reported on beans (Beaumont, 1941) castor bean, potato, and watermelon (Carter, 1936) in Hawaii. Stunting occurs when this leafhopper infests lettuce (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945).

The southern green leafhopper tested negative as a vector in transmission experiments for a disease of papaya in Hawaii (Beaumont, 1940), but a close relative, Empoasca stevensi, is suspected of vectoring a mycoplasma like organism (MLO) in Hawaii (Haque, 1973).


Leafhoppers usually produce eggs as a result of mating, although reproduction without fertilization may occur in some cases (DeLong, 1971).


Eggs are inserted from the undersides of leaves into the main vein or petioles (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945). One to two eggs are usually found per leaf (DeLong, 1971). Eggs hatch in about 10 days.


Immature leafhoppers, or nymphs, are yellow in color. They are quite active and run in a sideward direction. Nymphal development is completed in 14 days. Further information about the nymphal stage of this leafhopper species is unavailable. In general, leafhoppers have four, five or six nymphal stages (instars). The duration of the nymphal period for another leafhopper belonging to the same genus (Empoasca fabae) ranges from 7 to 26 days, averaging 15 days in warm temperatures (DeLong, 1971).


Adult leafhoppers are yellow or green. They have transparent wings (Zimmerman, 1948). The vertex of the insect's back is distinctly longer at the middle than at the front, and rounded at the rear (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945). Leafhoppers belonging to the Empoasca genus are very similar in appearance and identification to the species level requires examination under a microscope (DeLong, 1931; Cunningham and Ross, 1965).

Other developmental information can be estimated from that of closely related species. Females begin laying eggs 6 - 7 days after the final nymphal molt. They can live for several months, and can lay 200 - 300 eggs during their lifetime (DeLong, 1971). Their longevity is effected by available moisture, food plant, temperature and seasonal conditions (DeLong, 1971).


Adult leafhoppers fly or jump when disturbed. Leafhoppers disperse for several reasons such as hunger, overcrowding, drying of host plant, and reaching of sexual maturity. They disperse readily in response to overcrowding, decline of host plants, and after reaching adulthood.

Several leafhoppers produce audible sounds using two membranous structures on their abdomen (DeLong, 1971). However, no reference of sounds made by the southern green leafhopper were made in the reviewed literature.



Eggs of this leafhopper are parasitized by a mymarid wasp belonging to the Anagrus genus (Fullaway and Krauss, 1945). Spiders are known to prey on leafhoppers, but no specific identifications have been made (DeLong, 1971).


The southern garden leafhopper is easily controlled with synthetic organic insecticides in the organophosphorus or carbamate classes. Old recommendations (Zimmerman, 1948) report good control by sulfur dust or a pyrethrum-sulfur dust and satisfactory control by pyrethrum-talc dust.


Beaumont, J. H. 1940. Entomology. pp. 36-42. Hawaii Agr. Exp. Sta. Rpt. 1939.

Beaumont, J. H. 1941. Entomology. pp. 38-45. Hawaii Agr. Exp. Sta. Rpt. 1940.

Carter, W. 1936. Insects and Plant Diseases. Proc. Haw. Entomol. Soc. 9(2): 159-170.

Cunningham, H. B. and H. H. Ross. 1965. Characters for Specific Identification of Females in the Leafhopper Genus Empoasca (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 58: 620-623.

DeLong, D. M. 1931. A Revision of the American Species of Empoasca Known to Occur North of Mexico. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC. Technical Bulletin No. 231. 60 pages.

DeLong, D. M. 1971. The Bionomics of Leafhoppers. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 16: 179-210.

Fullaway, D. T. and N. L. H. Krauss. 1945. Empoasca solana DeLong. pp. 57-58. In: Common Insects of Hawaii. Tongg Publishing Company, Honolulu, Hawaii. 228 pages.

Haque, S. Q. and S. Parasram. 1973. Empoasca stevensi, A New Vector of Bunchy Top Disease of Papaya. Plant Dis. Reptr. 57(5): 412-413.

Hereford, G. V. B. 1935. Studies on the Secretion of Diastase and Invertase by Empoasca solana DeLong (Rhynchota, Homoptera, Jassidae). Ann. App. Biol. 22: 301-306.

Poos, F. W. and N. H. Wheeler. 1943. Studies on Host Plants of the Leafhoppers of the Genus Empoasca. USDA Tech. Bull. No. 850. 51 pages.

Zimmerman, E. C. 1948. Empoasca solana DeLong. pp. 26-27. In: Insects of Hawaii. Volume 4 Homoptera: Auchenorhyncha. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 268 pages.





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