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Insects (Maine Cranberries) - Blunt-nosed Leafhopper

Order: Homoptera || Family: Cicadellidae
Scientific Name: Limotettix (=Scleroracus) vaccinii (Van Duzee)

photo of a Blunt-nosed Leafhopper adult resting on a sweepnet Blunt-nosed Leafhoppers (2009 outbreak) (view inside a 12"-diameter sweepnet after only 25 sweeps) photo of a Blunt-nosed Leafhopper adult resting on the rim of a 12"-diameter sweepnet a Blunt-nosed Leafhopper adult beside a US penny a Blunt-nosed Leafhopper adult beside a US penny two separate closeup views (seen through a dissecting scope) of a Blunt-nosed Leafhopper adult

Not seen in Maine’s recent cranberry history (1996-present) until the 2009 growing season, when it was found at two separate locations, with a large outbreak at one of those locations.  Another location has seen high numbers of them since that time (2015 and 2016).

Notes: This is a ‘piercing-sucking’ insect in the manner in which it feeds, and most of the feeding is done throughout the nymphal stages, when they are wingless (only the adults have wings). The nymphs (see photos below) need to molt a total of five times before becoming adults, and this development period lasts about one month.  The adults may be found from June all the way through early September (with the first hard frost eliminating any stragglers), and their numbers will swell and peak in July or early August. In very high numbers (100 to 200 per 25 sweeps), leafhoppers can drain the vines significantly (robbing the stems of water and sugar), but most importantly, it is a known carrier of the plant phytoplasm (virus-like pathogen) known as False Blossom, which threatened the entire cranberry industry nationwide in the early 1900s and was so bad in New Jersey that it is said to have nearly ended their cranberry industry there altogether.  The disease manifests itself as deformed blossoms that do not set fruit. Pockets of False Blossom are still found in wild bogs on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and it was recently found in New Jersey again, to a larger extent than what was expected when the sampling and testing was done.

Blunt-nosed Leafhopper nymph - 5/19/2010 (about the size of a flea) Blunt-nosed Leafhopper nymph - 5/19/2010 (about the size of a flea)

A Blunt-nosed Leafhopper nymph (May 19th, 2010)

You can learn more about this pest on pages 61 to 63 of A.L. Averill & M.M. Sylvia’s book, Cranberry Insects of the Northeast [the book can be viewed online as a pdf from the UMass Cranberry Station at this address]. There are two photos of False Blossom disease at the bottom of page 62.

Photos by Charles Armstrong.

Cranberry questions? Contact Charles Armstrong, Cranberry Professional. University of Maine Cooperative Extension || Pest Management Office || 491 College Avenue || Orono, ME 04473-1295 || Tel: 207.581.2967 [email:]


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