Empoasca decipiens

Scientific Name Empoasca decipiens Paoli
Synonyms The taxonomy of the genus Empoasca has often been unclear, so older literature should be considered with caution, as the term might refer to different species.
Common Names English: Green leafhopper; German: Europäische Kartoffel-Zikade, Gemüseblattzikade, Baumwollzikade
Description The small, wedge-shaped body of the adult is about 3-4 mm (0.12-0.16 inch) in length and light green. The nymphs resemble the adults, but they lack wings.
Most Empoasca spp. are difficult to distinguish: reliable identification requires microscopic examination.



E. decipiens nymphs and adults damage their hosts directly by sucking on both the mesophyll and the phloem. After probing with their stylets, the insects rupture plant cells and ingest the resulting mixture of cell contents and the watery saliva they have injected. The latter contains toxic substances that interfere with plant physiology. Plant vessels may become blocked, and as a result, nutrient transport obstructed: this affects the host plant far more than the direct sap loss. Therefore, even low numbers of E. decipiens can cause damage, especially to plants on which they feed primarily from the phloem.
Symptoms of attack vary between host species and often resemble the response to drought or nutrient deficiency. In general, the symptoms are typical for „hopperburn“, with necroses first appearing around the feeding sites, followed by chlorotic areas at the leaf margins and around the veins. Leaves may curl downwards and finally fall off. The whole plant will be stunted and the fruit yield reduced in both weight and quality.
The stylet punctures also remain visible on some fruits (e.g. tomato and capsicum), which affects the marketability of the produce. In contrast to many other leafhoppers, this species is not known to transmit viruses or other plant diseases.


E. decipiens reproduces sexually. The female inserts the eggs singly into plant tissues with its ovipositor, sometimes on stems, but mostly on the undersides of leaves near the veins. The larvae hatch after 1-4 weeks. Their development lasts about 10-37 days, depending on temperature and host plant. Metamorphosis is incomplete, so the five nymphal instars resemble adults, but they lack wings until the fourth instar. Temperatures of 24-28°C (75.2 - 82.4°F) are most favorable for development. These insects are more often found on the undersides of leaves. As their name suggests, they hop away when disturbed. They can also fly, and are therefore very mobile.


Additional Crop Information

E. decipiens has a very broad host range.
In many cooler areas it is a pest of nearly all vegetable crops grown under glass, (e.g. cucumber, tomato, aubergine and capsicum). In the open field, it is found on broad bean, cotton, cucurbits, French bean, grapevine, lucerne, melon, okra, potato, soybean, sugar beet and many other crops, as well as on numerous ornamentals.

Agricultural Importance

E. decipiens is part of the endemic leafhopper fauna and is a common species on low vegetation in most parts of its geographical range. In northern Africa, there are up to 10 generations per year, but in Central Europe, only 2-3 generations in the open field and 4-5 in glasshouses.
The adults are able to overwinter on wintergreen plants.
The green leafhopper is widespread in central and southern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa.
Since the 1990s, E. decipiens has become an increasingly serious pest in glasshouses throughout Central Europe.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

The active insects are nearly impossible to count, so monitoring is best done by searching for empty larval skins on leaf undersides or by using yellow sticky traps, which are very attractive to green leafhoppers. Prevent the overwintering of adults in greenhouses and install adequate screening over all openings. The leafhoppers are easily introduced as eggs hidden in plant tissues.

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