Insect guide > Hoppers > Leaf Hoppers

Leaf Hoppers

(Family Jjassidae.)
This group of insects, which comprises the forms ordinarily known as leaf hoppers, is an extensive group, comprising a great complexity of forms and by most modern writers is considered as having superfamily rank and is generally termed "Jassoidea". They are usually slender insects, with the antennae inserted in front of and between the eyes and having the hind tibiae with a row of spines below.

They are very growing herbage and have been shown by Professor Herbert Osborn to bring about a very extensive although probably unnoticed injury to forage plants in large grazing ranges in the west as well as in pasture lots in the east. He shows that on an acre of pasture land there frequently exists one million leaf hoppers and that this million hoppers consume as much grass as
a cow if not more. In this restricted sense this family includes the leaf hoppers now generally placed in the family Tettigonidae which are distinguished from the restricted Jassidae by the position of the ocelli. Among the leaf hoppers which may be especially mentioned are the green spindle-shaped species of the genus Diedrocephala which are found abundantly in pasture lands, one species (D. mollipes) occurring commonly in the salt marshes of the Atlantic States.

The forms belonging to the genus Proconia are rather widely distributed and one of them (Y. undata) is responsible for most of the stories of "weeping trees " which are seen in the newspapers. These insects in all stages (and the species of several other genera have a similar habit) eject a spray of fluid from the anus when disturbed and, when occurring abundantly upon trees, if the tree be shaken what seems almost like a light shower of rain will fall. One of these "weeping tree mysteries", so-called, in Texas some years ago "set the state agog with various explanations of the phenomenon, ranging from the superstitious credence of the supernaturally inclined to the positive denial and derisive laughter of the constitutionally skeptical." It took a brave newspaper reporter to solve the mystery, since he alone dared to climb the tree and investigate. The common leaf hoppers of the grape-vine, erroneously called by grape­growers"Thrips", are known as Erythroneura vitis and Typhlocyba vitifex. They frequently cause the leaves of grape-vines to turn brown and wither. Agallia sanguinolenta prefers open sunny places, is destructive to clover and attacks a great variety of useful plants such as cabbage, celery, turnips, strawberry, beets and many weeds.

Typical Life History of a Leaf Hopper
(Deltocephalus inimicus.)
This little leaf hopper is one of the species which is commonly found in pastures and meadows. It has been reared upon young wheat plants by Professor F. M. Webster. The females laid their eggs in November in the tissue of the leaves and the young could be seen developing within the eggs without removal. They were especially noticeable just prior to issuing by their jet black eyes.
A few days after hatching the young leaf hoppers molted and they molted again twice thereafter, the full-grown individuals making their appearance December 22d, giving a life period of forty-one days from the egg to the adult. The species seems to hibernate both in the egg state and in the adult condition and to have several generations each year. Osborn found the eggs inserted under the skin of the leaves of blue grass, making little blister-like swellings near the tips and causing them to turn yellow. Those which hibernate in the egg state issue in great numbers in grass lands early in May.

There are at least two generations each year, the young being numerous in late May and in August and the adults in June and in the fall. Large numbers have been seen attracted to the electric lights.