Leafhoppers are tiny little insects that are mostly considered a nuisance insect in lawns, but can be a major problem for crops. Everyone has probably seen them, walking through a lawn on a summer day. They’re those little things that jump out, like gnats – you can’t really see them, unless there are quite a few.
On the other hand, large quantities of leafhoppers in a residential lawn can cause considerable damage to newly-laid sod, or grass that is stressed or weakened by any number of things – drought, disease, winter damage, thinning out due to shade, compaction, etc.
Leafhoppers suck the juice out of plants, somewhat like chinch bugs do. When they pierce a leaf, they inject a toxin at the same time. Bleached-out patches left in their wake are referred to as “hopper burn” in crops. Farmers know to look out for this, but unfortunately, to a homeowner, the damage looks just like drought stress, like the area just needs some more water. Brown spots or dead areas that used to be green should always be inspected for insects. If you walk through your lawn and clouds of little bugs appear with your footsteps, you could have a leafhopper problem. If in doubt, have your lawn tech verify the problem.
Fairway Lawns offers an application to kill leafhoppers, or you can buy an insecticide like Sevin and apply it yourself. Leafhoppers may have several generations, so you may have to apply it several times. If you’re a Fairway Lawns customer and would like a quote for an insecticide application, just email us and we’ll get back to you with a price.
SCIENCE NOTE: Leafhoppers date back 125 million years. There are more species of leafhoppers than there are of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals combined, and new ones are being discovered every day. Although miniscule, some of them are beautifully colored. They are found on every continent, from rain forests to frozen tundra. The University of Illinois has an excellent site on leafhoppers, (including some beautiful pictures,) created by C.H. Dietrich, Illinois Natural History Survey.