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Potato leafhopper

Empoasca fabae (Harris)
Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadellidae

All leafhopper species feed on the undersides of leaves, puncturing cells and sucking out the contents. In general, juice grape (labrusca) varieties are much more tolerant of leafhoppers than hybrid or vinifera varieties.

The adult potato leafhopper is pale to bright green and about 1/8 inch long. Adults are very active, jumping, flying or running when disturbed. The immature forms, or nymphs, are pale green and wingless. They run forward, backward or sideways when disturbed. The potato leafhopper does not overwinter north of the Gulf states. Adults migrate north each spring on southerly winds and are deposited during May and June in spring rains.

Potato leafhoppers can be very destructive on hybrid or vinifera varieties that are sensitive to the saliva they inject while feeding. Feeding is concentrated on young tissues near the shoot tips. On sensitive varieties, only a few adults are needed to cause leaf yellowing and cupping or shortened shoot internodes. This insect is typically a minor pest in labrusca grapes.


Several leafhopper species feed on grape foliage in the eastern United States.

Similar Species

Threebanded leafhopper, Erythroneura tricincta, and Virginia creeper leafhopper, Erythroneura ziczac, can both be found in eastern U.S. vineyards. Their biologies are similar to that of grape leafhopper. The threebanded leafhopper adult is brown and black with some orange flecks on the wings. The Virginia creeper leafhopper adult is pale yellowish or white with a zigzag stripe down each wing and distinctly red cross-veins.

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