Photo by Pavel Kirillov

How to Get Rid of Leafhoppers in the Garden | Quick Guide to Organic Control

Leafhoppers are small, fast-moving pests that do most of their damage on the leaves of your crops. They feed on everything from fruits and veggies to ornamental flowers but, luckily, are rarely capable of completely destroying a crop. Still, they can cause significant damage in large numbers. Learning how to combat them naturally can help keep your plants at their healthiest.

How to identify a leafhopper infestation

Leafhoppers come in many colors, from brown to green and speckled varieties. They move in a hopping motion, as their name suggests, and are often confused for aphids. But the marks they leave have a trademark pattern that differentiate them. Look for:

  • White spots on the tops of leaves that create a speckled pattern with more severe feeding
  • Molted skin on the underside of leaves
  • Curling leaves
  • Dry leaf edges

How to control leafhoppers in your garden

In all likelihood, you’ll get a few leafhoppers but won’t see any significant damage to your plants. Many gardeners can simply ignore them with no net loss.

Organic control methods

However, if they’re present in large enough numbers to damage the look or health of your garden, try companion planting to attract leafhopper predators:

Companion planting

  • Ladybugs love to eat leafhoppers. Attract them to your garden with chives or dill. If you’re in the market for a decorative companion plant, they’re particularly fond of marigolds and cosmos.
  • Lacewings: These bugs also love eating aphids, so they do double-duty in that department. Attract them with dill or fennel interspersed in pest-ridden areas.

As a hopping insect, they’re also relatively easy to control (in small numbers) with sticky traps. Place the traps between plants to catch the hoppers mid-jump.

Non-organic methods

control leafhoppers

If your leafhopper population is severe enough to merit a “scorched-earth” approach, it’s time to go the inorganic route. In this case, two insecticidal options will get to the route of the problem:

  1. Insecticidal soap, which can be made with a mixture of dish soap and water, is a simple way to exterminate leafhopper populations. Note that this only works if the bugs come into contact with it, so spray it in areas where they spend time: namely, on the tops and bottoms of plant leaves.
  2. Conventional insecticides, though likely unnecessary, will also do the job. Look for a product specifically recommended for your affected plant type.
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