Insect identification > Homoptera > Leafhoppers and Treehoppers

Leafhoppers and Treehoppers


Leafhoppers and Treehoppers. - The four or more families included under this heading contain a large number of kinds of insects, many of which are extremely numerous. Among them are the lantern flies of South America and the candle flies of China and India which are quite large insects, a number of which at least are luminous. Some of the insects here included are highly colored and some secrete quantities of wax which is often used for candles and other purposes.

In one of the families - the treehoppers - the pronotum is largely and often remarkably developed, sometimes giving these insects a very grotesque appearance. In this country, however, such forms are not usual, the development of this section of the body being mainly in the line of horns or humps and the enlargement of this plate in width or height and in its extension backward until it covers most or all of the body.

The treehoppers of the United States are all small insects, less than half an inch long, and as they sit on twigs their peculiar forms seem to give them resemblances to buds, swellings or other characters, which suggests that their odd outlines may be for resemblance to these structures and thus secure the protection from their enemies which this would give.

In general the treehoppers puncture the twigs of plants and are injurious, though only a few kinds are ever so abundant and attack plants of such importance as to need consideration.

Among these the most common is the buffalo treehopper (Ceresa bubalus Fab.), found practically everywhere in the United States except perhaps in the most southerly portions, which injures the twigs of fruit trees by its egg punctures made in the fall. Two rows of punctures are made, nearly parallel to each other, the two rather resembling parenthesis marks, and in each a number of eggs is laid. These hatch the following spring. Injury caused by the feeding of the nymphs and adults is slight, and in fact most of the young feed mainly on weeds, but the egg punctures cause distorted growth and weaken the twig.

The leafhoppers are extremely abundant insects and some of them must do much injury to the grass crop, as it has been estimated that there are frequently as many as one to two millions of them per acre. Most of them are very small.

Some leaf hoppers have one generation a year, others more, and different species appear to hibernate in different stages. In addition to various grasses, grain, alfalfa, clover, sugar beets, grape and rose, the apple, elm, willow and other trees have their juices extracted by the feeding of these insects.