|Crop Knowledge Master|
Spanagonicus albofasciatus (Reuter)
Ronald F.L. Mau, Extension Entomologist
Jayma L. Martin Kessing, Educaitonal Specialist
Department of Entomology
Plant hosts include beets, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, chard, Chinese spinach, cucumber, daikon, gobo, mustard cabbage, parsley, pigeon pea, squash, turf grasses and watermelon. Key weed hosts for this species are portulaca, or pig weed, and Amaranthus species (spleen, spiny and slender amaranth).
First described in Jamaica in 1904 (Reuter, 1907), the garden fleahopper has been found throughout the mainland US and Hawaii. No economic importance was known for this pest until 1943 when complete failure of carrots and beets occurring periodically throughout Hawaii was attributed to fleahopper feeding on young seedlings.
The feeding of fleahoppers upon cotyledon leaves kills seedlings in severe cases. If the seedlings do not die, a reduction in yield through loss of plant vigor can be expected. Deformation and spotting of cotyledons (first two leaves of the seedling) are symptomatic to whitemarked leafhopper feeding. These symptoms differ from those of virus induced symptoms because they are proportionate to the length of time and number of insects feeding and recovery is common if the pest is removed (Nishida, 1947).
Seedlings are able to recover from feeding by the second, third and fourth nymphal stages if the insects are removed from the plant. Feeding by the fifth and final nymphal stage and adults produce symptoms and kill seedlings. Fifth nymphal stages kill about 40% of the seedlings they attack, while adults kill 100% of the seedlings (Nishida, 1947). The number of insects attacking effects the recovery of the seedling, if 10 or more fleahoppers have feed on a seedling, it is unlikely that it will recover (Nishida, 1947). If fewer individuals have attacked, the seedling may recover, although this situation is rare in the field because fleahoppers usually feed in large populations.
On cantaloupe seedlings, considerable feeding has been reported to prevent fruit setting.
The total life cycle (egg to death of adult) ranges from 34 to 61 days.
The garden fleahopper is classified as a sub-major pest because it is capable of causing considerable damage under certain conditions. It is not a common pest. Periods of adequate moisture build up populations of this insect. If a dry period follows, the insects migrate to the most succulent plants it may find which are usually agricultural crops or maintained grasses such as golf courses.
Eggs are laid singly within the soft tissue of the terminal portion of the stem, petiole and young seed capsule (Nishida, 1947). They are pearly white, smooth, translucent, elongate in appearance with a circular cap. They are approximately 1/25 inch in length. Eggs turn to a dull gray just before hatching (Musa and Butler, 1967).They hatch in 9-11 days.
The 5 nymphal stages of this pest varies from pale greenish yellow to brick red in color. The insect is very small, with the oldest nymphal stage is about 1/12 inch long. Nymphal development is completed in 13-21 days.
Adults are wedge-shaped insects with the broadest part of the head at the eyes. The body is dark brown with pale yellow wings and measures about 1/12 inch in length. See Blatchley (1926) for a detailed description of the male. They live for 13-29 days.
Females have three stages during their adult life: pre-egg laying, egg laying and post-egg laying which last for 3-6, 5-16, and 0-8 days, respectively. They lay an average of 3.4 eggs per day (range = 1 - 6). Females lay an average of 43 eggs during their lifespan.
The first stage nymphs are inactive and remain with little activity on the host plant. With age, the nymphs become more active and the jumping behavior characteristic of the adults becomes more pronounced (Nishida, 1947).
Adult whitemarked fleahoppers are usually found in large groups. When disturbed, they quickly disperse and hide. This insect usually moves about by jumping. To travel further distances they take flight after the second jump (Satterthwait, 1944).
Whitemarked leafhoppers are only on plants while feeding. When they are finished feeding, they jump to the ground and remain there until they are ready to feed again.
Laboratory studies (Butler, 1965) indicated that this fleahopper sometimes prey on eggs and adults of the carmine spider mite (Tetranychuscinnabarinus), the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), eggs and young larvae of the tomato fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea), and the eggs, larvae and pupae of the banded-wing whitefly (Trialeurodes abutilonea) (Butler, 1970).
Two factors are involved in the fleahopper problem. During periods of adequate moisture populations of fleahoppers are able to build up because of favorable conditions and the abundance of host plants (usually a weed). During dry weather the pest migrates onto economic plants that are well irrigated and succulent (Nishida, 1947). Therefore, control measures should be implemented to control the pest at either of these two stages.
Since the majority of the damage occurs to seedlings if attacked before the emergence of true leaves, it is important to protect germinating seedlings from attack by leafhoppers. This may be accomplished by mechanically protecting the seedlings with a covering of light muslin or other protective coverings.
During dry periods or when succulent crops are unavailable, populations of whitemarked fleahoppers feed and persist on weed hosts such as pig weed. They remain near the weeds until conditions are suitable to return to crop plants. Control of reservoir weed species helps to prevent reinfestation of fleahoppers on young seedlings.
The fleahopper is easily controlled with contact and residual insecticides. Because of treatments for key pests, this pest usually does not develop damaging populations.
Blatchley, W. S. Leucopoecila albofasciata (Reuter). pp. 948-949. In: Heteroptera or True Bugs of Eastern North America. The Nature Company, Indianapolis.
Butler, G. D. 1965. Spanogonicus albofasciatus as an Insect and Mite Predator. J. Kansas Entomological Society. 38(1): 70-75.
Butler, G. D. 1970. Temperature and the Development of Spanagonicus albofasciatus and Rhinacloa forticornis. J. Econ. Entomol. 63(2): 669-670.
Butler, G. D. and A. Stoner. 1965. The Biology of Spanagonicus albofasciatus. J. Econ. Entomol. 58(4): 664-665.
Holdaway, F. G. 1944. Insects of Vegetable Crops in Hawaii Today. Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 12(1): 59-80.
Illingworth, J. F. 1931. Notes on Some Bugs associated with Pineapples in Hawaii. Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 7(4): 465-467.
Musa, M. S. and G. D. Butler. 1967. The Stages of Spanogonicus albofasciatus and Their Development (Hemiptera: Miridae). J. Kansas Entomological Society. 40(4): 596-600.
Nishida, T. 1947. The Life History and Ecology of the Garden Fleahopper, Leucopoecila albofasciata (Reuter). MS Thesis. University of Hawaii. 75 pages.
Reuter, O. M. 1907. Capsid novae in Insula Jamaica. Helsingfors, Ofvers, F. Vet. Soc. vol. 49 no. 5 pp. 1-27.
Satterthwait, A. F. 1944. Leucopoecila albofasciata, a Pest of Golf Greens. J. Econ. Ent. 37(4): 562.