Glasshouse leafhopper

Glasshouse leafhopper can cause a pale mottling on the foliage on a wide range of glasshouse and garden plants.

Glasshouse leafhopper (Hauptidia maroccana). Credit: RHS/Entomology.

Quick facts

Common name: Glasshouse leafhopper
Scientific name: Hauptidia maroccana
Plants affected: Many glasshouse vegetables and ornamental plants including tomato, peppers, aubergine, cucumber, fuchsia, pelargonium and Streptocarpus. Outdoor plants, such as polyanthus, foxglove and Nicotiana are also attacked
Main symptoms: Coarse pale spotting on upper leaf surface. Leafhoppers may be seen on the underside of leaves
Most active: April to September but all year round in glasshouses

What is glasshouse leafhopper?

Glasshouse leafhopper is a small 3mm long, pale green sap-feeding insect which can jump and fly short distances.

Symptoms

  • A coarse pale mottling appears on the upper leaf surface of a wide range of plants in greenhouses, on houseplants and in gardens (similar mottling on sage, rosemary and other herbs is likely to be due to the sage or Ligurian leafhoppers)
  • If the infestation is severe, the spots join together, giving the leaves a chlorotic appearance that could be mistaken for a mineral deficiency
  • Damaged leaves will remain discoloured but new growth develops normally once the leafhopper has been controlled
  • Adult glasshouse leafhoppers are 3mm (about 1/8in) long and pale yellow with grey markings. They are broadest at the head end and taper to a point behind
  • Adults jump off leaves and fly short distances when disturbed
  • The creamy white, wingless nymphs are less active and can be easier to spot
  • White cast skins shed by the immature nymphs can often be found attached to the underside of damaged leaves

Control

Check susceptible plants frequently from spring onwards so action can be taken before a damaging infestation has developed. When choosing control options you can minimise harm to non-target animals by starting with the methods in the non-pesticide control section. If this is not sufficient to reduce the damage to acceptable levels then you may choose to use pesticides. Within this group the shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence and/or systemic action.

Non-pesticide control

  • Often glasshouse leafhopper does not affect the growth or vigour of plants and so can be tolerated
  • Encourage predators and other natural enemies of leafhoppers, in the garden, such as birds, ladybirds, wasps and ground beetles.

 

Pesticide control

  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Solabiol Bug Free, Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Plant Guard Pest & Disease Control, Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg) can give good control of leafhoppers. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep leafhopper numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults 
  • Plant invigorators combine nutrients to stimulate plant growth with surfactants or fatty acids that have a physical mode of action (e.g. Ecofective Bug Control, RHS Bug and Mildew Control, SB Plant Invigorator and Westland Resolva Natural Power Bug & Mildew). These are not considered organic
  • More persistent contact-action insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
Follow label instructions when using pesticides. On edible plants make sure the food plant is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number applications, spray interval and harvest interval.

Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.

Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.

Download

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

  • Leaf mottling can be caused by the feeding activities of the adults and nymphs, which live mainly on the lower leaf surface
  • This leafhopper has several generations during the growing season and can remain active throughout the year on indoor plants
  • Eggs are laid in the leaf veins and hatch into wingless creamy white nymphs
  • The nymphs shed their outer skin five times as they grow and finally become adults
  • In midsummer, the life cycle can be completed in six weeks but takes several months in the winter


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