Monday, July 4, 2016

Treehoppers - Strange Bugs


Strange bugs are observed feeding on the stems of pepper  and other plants. Some are dark, and the others are green. These bugs are actually different stages of the same critter, the solanaceous treehopper.  Because the back of the adults comes to a point much like the keel of a boat, they are also called the keeled treehopper.  The spiny, dark looking bugs are the immature stage; they are fairly easy to control with a soap spray. The adults are green and are much harder to control.   

These treehoppers are common on peppers and poha berries or gooseberries (same family- Solanaceae). Tomatoes can also be attacked. They don’t seem to do a lot of damage, but of course, they are draining the plants of some nutrients. Vigorously growing plants are seldom attacked in their prime, but are vulnerable towards the end of the season. Biological control of these insects is poor except for some egg predators. 

The best and safest control measure seems to be a strong spray of water from the garden hose. This will wash them off the plant. The immature will not return; some of the adults may work their way back to the plant. Check out http://nathistoc.bio.usc.edu/hemipt/keeledtreehopper.htm  for some strange looking pictures of the solanaceous tree hopper (Antianthe expansa).