Aster Leafhopper – Sixspotted Leafhopper – macrosteles quadrilineatus

Aster/ Six-spotted Leafhopper: Appearance, Territory, Damage, and Life Cycle

Latin Name: Macrosteles Quadrilineatus

Appearance: This migratory pest bug, which comes to Canada in the spring depending on wind directions, is well recognized for being a vector of the canola phytoplasma aster yellows. Adult Aster leafhoppers are 3.5 to 6 mm long, pale green or straw-colored, and have six conspicuous dark-colored dots on their forehead. Leafhoppers are slender and wedge-shaped, and they may move or fly quickly in warm weather. Eggs are placed in plant tissue, and nymphs mature through five stages before reaching adulthood.

Hosts Plants: It infects asters and other garden plants, spreading the aster yellow virus, which produces excessive branching, stunted development, and yellow foliage.

Territory: It is mostly found in the United States.

Damage Insect Cause: Aster leafhoppers suck plant juices from green plant parts with their piercing-sucking mouthparts, giving leaves a whitened, mottled look. While this damage is unsightly, the actual issue is the spread of the pathogen that causes aster yellows.

Infected adult plants’ leaves and stems turn yellow (chlorotic) and become stunted and twisted. Symptoms appear earlier in seedlings and more vulnerable cultivars. Flowers are deformed, discolored, speckled, and infertile. Plants occasionally produce an abundance of leaves. The symptoms of disease differ from plant to plant. Most plants do not show symptoms until 21 to 30 days after being infected with the virus.

Life History and Habits: In colder areas, the six spotted leafhoppers overwinter as an egg, while in warmer climates, it overwinters as an adult. Before reaching adulthood, it goes through five nymph phases. Each generation takes between 27 and 34 days to finish. Every year, three to four generations are born.

Leafhoppers are easily caught with sweep nets. Yellow sticky traps are also helpful. Aluminum foil and straw mulches can help minimize disease incidence. Row coverings can also be employed on high-value crops. It is also critical to destroying weed species known to host aster yellows.