common name: Treehopper
scientific name: Order Homoptera, family Membracidae, many species
size: Adult--1/4" to 1/3"
identification: Treehoppers vary tremendously in shape and design. They are distinguished from other true bugs by the often dramatic shape of the pronotum (shield behind the head) Adults are green, brown, and black. Interesting hump-back shape, sometimes spinelike. Some are grotesquely shaped. Antennae are very small and hairlike. Hind legs are enlarged for jumping. Closely kin to leafhoppers. Both nymphs and adults hop vigorously when disturbed.
biology and life cycle: All species are plant eaters. Nymphs suck sap of grasses, shrub, trees, and other plants. Most have more than one generation a year. Overwinters as eggs laid on plants. Ants protect them for their honeydew. Females cut curved slits in inner bark where eggs are laid. Nymphs hatch in the late spring, drop to the ground, and feed on weeds and grasses until late summer.
habitat: Shrubs, trees, and other vegetation.
feeding habits: The adults do not suck sap like leafhoppers.
economic importance: Relatively unimportant, although some diseases may enter through the egg-laying slits in the twigs of woody plants.
natural control: Birds and predatory insects, nematodes.
organic control: None needed usually. Spray plant oil products if heavy infestations occur. Horticultural oils are also effective as well as beneficial nematodes and dormant oil in winter for heavy infestations.
insight: Interesting little insects. Some have beautiful colorations. These insects are sometimes the source of the honeydew on trees. Buffalo treehoppers (Stictocephala bisonia) make many cuts in twigs and cause more severe damage than other treehoppers. They are particularly attracted to fruit trees. The adults are light green and triangle-shaped.