Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

FACTS, IDENTIFICATION & CONTROL  LATIN NAME Homalodisca vitripennis APPEARANCE

Glassy-winged sharpshooters are larger than other leafhoppers. Adults average 12 millimeters in length and are darkish brown to black in color. Their wings appear brown with small red veins, and their face and legs are yellow-orange. The nymphs are wingless and gray with very similar bodies to those of adults.

BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABITS

The glassy-winged sharpshooters obtain nutrients by feeding on plant fluids, but their feeding usually does not cause much damage. The insects excrete large amounts of liquid that make leaves appear whitewashed once it has dried. They live in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, among crops and even in urban areas. They have been reported to feed on hundreds of plant species. Sharpshooters’ common host plants include eucalyptus, euonymus, citrus, crepe myrtle, sunflower, hibiscus and cottonwood. They switch hosts depending on availability and nutritional value. 

REPRODUCTION

Before a female sharpshooter lays eggs, she excretes a white substance that transfers to her wings creating white dots. The spots are only visible for a short time before the eggs are laid. Males do not have these white spots. After laying eggs, she covers them with the chalky substance, making it more visible.

Females lay eggs in side-by-side sets of 10 to 12 beneath the leaf’s surface. When eggs are first laid, they look like green bumps beneath the skin of the leaf. After the eggs hatch, the leaf tissue turns brown.

SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION

The sharpshooter is inconspicuous by nature, so it is difficult to detect. Its brown coloration allows it to blend with twigs and other foliage. When it detects movement, it jumps from one side of a twig to another. A whitish powdery substance on leaves typically indicates that a sharpshooter is feeding, so examine the underside of plant leaves for this substance or egg masses to determine if there is an infestation. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Large sticky traps are commonly used to monitor adult sharpshooter populations. Sweep nets also are used in agricultural settings. For more information on managing sharpshooter infestations, please contact your local pest control provider.