Notice the adults on the stem in this shot.
Many gardeners are misidentifying the white insects on plant stems. In most cases it is planthoppers rather than mealybugs. The planthoppers are not destructive and jump away when touched. Mealybugs stay put. A water blast is all that’s needed for the planthoppers. The insect problems are interesting and diverse this season. For mealybugs, I would probably try the EcoSMART insect control product. The line is in quite a few of the retail stores now. Another option is to spray the Mound Drench mixture. It has worked for me in the past. Mix equal parts orange oil, compost tea and liquid molasses. Use 4 oz per gallon of water for the spray formula. It can also be made by adding 2 oz of orange oil to the Garrett Juice formula. This method gives the plants foliar feeding as well as insect control.
common name: Leafhopper, Planthopper
scientific name: Order Homoptera, family Cicadellidae, many species
size: Adult--1/10" to 1/2"
identification: Adults are distinctive wedge-shaped insects with triangular heads. Most are brown or green, but some are brightly decorated. All have well-developed hind legs for jumping. Nymphs are very similar to adults, but paler in color and wingless.
biology and life cycle: Incomplete metamorphosis. Adults overwinter and lay eggs in rows or clusters when leaves emerge. Eggs hatch in ten to fourteen days, nymphs develop for one to four weeks. Two to five generations a year.
habitat: Fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
feeding habits: Adults and nymphs suck juices from stems and undersides of leaves, causing a mottled look.
economic importance: Toxic saliva can cause stunty leaf growth or warty, crinkled, or rolled edges. Some are vectors of plant disease.
natural control: Maintain healthy plants. Protect natural enemies such as parasitic wasps and flies, damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, lady beetles, lacewings, and spiders. Birds, frogs, lizards, and insectivorous insects.
organic control: Strong blasts of water and citrus oil products. Horticultural or plant oil for heavy infestations.
insight: Entomologists say that leafhoppers are responsible for spreading more than 150 plant disorders.