Vine hoppers and other leaf hoppers are sap sucking insects that will feed on a variety of plants, not just vines. The honeydew that they produce can encourage sooty moulds.
The nymph passion vine hoppers are tiny wingless insects with white fluffy tails that are raised above their bodies like peacock tails. The nymphs and winged adults can jump (hop) when disturbed.
From late January on the nymphs go through their final molt and change into the small brown adults that look like small smooth winged moths that are often seen in a queue like line on the stems of plants. The adults will be be active through to autumn laying eggs in small branches of their target plants. As they withdraw their ovipositor (egg laying tube) they pull out small white tufts of plant material which show up as white dots on your plants.
To get rid of vine hoppers follow these steps:
Kiwicare PLANThealth Rose Force is a systemic insecticide and fungicide that would control these insect pests as they feed on treated plants and the sooty mould.
If you do not wish to use insecticides you could use Organic Super Spraying Oil and spray the insects directly. This works by physically blocking the insect’s spiracles (breathing holes) and suffocating them. This would be best done before the nymphs reach maturity and grow wings. Once adults they tend to fly off in clouds as soon as disturbed and they will be difficult to spray with the oil the nymphs can be difficult to spray also, because of their hopping habits.
Another option would be Organic Insect Control pyrethrum which can be used on fruit and vegetables that might be attacked. There is only a 1 day withholding period with these control options.
Did you know
A similar insect is the nymph of the green plant hopper, however the nymphs of the green plant hopper keep their fluffy tails straight back rather than up in the air as the passion vine hopper does. The green plant hopper nymph body is pale green rather than the passion vine hopper white.
The nymphs and adults suck sap and produce a sticky honeydew that can cover leaves and encourage growth of sooty moulds. If the honey dew is produced from sucking the sap of tutu shrub and bees collect the honey dew the honey they produce can be poisonous.
The common species of vine hopper in New Zealand are the Passion vine hopper - Scolypopa australis.
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