Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Glassy Winged Sharpshooter

Glassy Winged Sharpshooter

I had several of these brought into my office several days ago. They are partly responsible for the demise of Oleanders all across Southern California. Their feeding activity centers around the water conducting tissue in the plant they are attacking. The orange bulb shaped area that you see on the bottom of the leafhopper in the picture is its 'head pump', a muscular organ that helps the insect pump the watery xylem fluid (mostly water coming from the roots) from the plant and through its body. 

Glassy Winged Sharpshooter
This feeding method means that it doesn't have to compete with sap sucking insects like aphids and scale, but it does require the insect to process a lot of fluid through its digestive track because xylem fluid is lean on nutrients like sugar and dissolved nitrogen compounds. This causes if to expel water out of its anus like crazy, as can be seen in this video. These insects are partly or mostly responsible for trees that 'rain' drops of fluid down around you in the summertime. 

Should you control these pests? Generally, no. However if the squirting gets to be too much you might try a pyrethrum based organic control like Pyganic, however be very selective as far as what and where you spray because this insecticide, like many pyrethrum based products, will eliminate beneficial and predatory insects as well as the pest.

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