There are several leafhopper species damage succulents. They are small, about one-quarter inch long, slender and winged. They range in color from green or yellow to red or blue. Immature leafhoppers appear similar to adults but are smaller and wingless. They are quick and may jump or fly short distances when disturbed.
Succulents are commonly classified as plants with thick, fleshy leaves that store water in dry climates. Jade plants, aloe and ponytail palms are examples of succulents grown as potted plants that might be infested with leafhoppers. These small, fast moving insects feed on their host’s sap.
Leafhoppers have piercing mouthparts that suck sap from leaves, stems and flowers. As they feed, they cause tiny, white spots called stippling. They cause wilting, curling and dieback of young growth. According to the University of California, leafhoppers are also known for spreading viruses as they feed. In addition, they secrete a sticky, sweet substance known as honeydew on which a fungus called sooty mold grows. Sooty mold can cover leaves, preventing photosynthesis.
Leafhoppers can enter your home on greenhouse plants or on plants left outside for the summer. Check these plants thoroughly before putting them near other succulents or any other houseplants. Leafhoppers are mobile and may enter your home through torn window or door screens or through windows or doors that don't properly close. Ensure all possible entrances to your home are tightly sealed. Keep your yard and garden free of weeds that might harbor leafhoppers. This helps keep them off outdoor and indoor succulents.
Insecticides are helpful in controlling leafhoppers. Indoor use of insecticides is dangerous, so use safer options, such as insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils for indoor use. Treat your plants outdoors when the weather is good. Products containing the active ingredients, chlorpyrifos, cyfluthrin, fenpropathrin, fluvalinate, pyrethrin + PBO or resmethrin help fight leafhoppers. However, ensure your succulent is listed on the product’s label.
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