Friday, March 6, 2015

Glassy-winged sharpshooter

The glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) is a large leafhoppers. Adults are about 1.5 cm long and are generally dark brown to black when viewed from the top or side. The abdomen is whitish or yellow. The head is brown to black and covered with numerous ivory to yellowish spots.

This leafhopper species is native to southeastern North America. It has wreaked havoc on vineyards in California where it is introduced. It also occurs in unusually high numbers in citrus and avocado groves. The name sharpshooter comes from their habit of expelling excess watery waste with such force that it spurts a fair distance with an audible popping noise. 

Females lay their eggs on young leaves that have recently expanded. When it is first laid, the egg mass appears as a greenish blister on the leaf. The female covers the leaf blister with a secretion that resembles white chalk, making them easy to see. Shortly after egg hatch, the leaf tissue that contained the egg mass begins to turn brown leaving behind a permanent scar.

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