AskDefine | Define leafhopper

Dictionary Definition

leafhopper n : small leaping insect that sucks the juices of plants

User Contributed Dictionary



Extensive Definition

Leafhopper is a common name applied to any species from the family Cicadellidae. Leafhoppers, also known as hoppers, are minute plant-feeding insects in the superfamily Membracoidea in the order Hemiptera Recent classification within the Hemiptera has placed the members of the archaic "Homoptera" into two new suborders: Sternorrhyncha (aphids, whiteflies, scales, psyllids...) and Auchenorrhyncha (cicadas, leafhoppers, treehoppers, planthoppers...). The name Auchenorrhyncha is itself likely to be replaced, as research indicates it is not a monophyletic group.
Leafhoppers are found all over the world, and it is the second largest family in the Hemiptera; there are at least 20,000 described species. Leafhoppers have piercing sucking mouthparts, they feed on plant sap and can transmit plant-infecting viruses and bacteria. Species that are significant agricultural pests include the potato leafhopper, beet leafhopper, white apple leafhopper, two-spotted leafhopper, and glassy-winged sharpshooter. A Leafhoppers' diet commonly consists of plant sap from a wide and diverse range of plants. Leafhoppers mainly consume vegetation but have been known to indulge in small insects such as Aphids.
The Cicadellidae combine the following features:
  • thickened part of the antennae very short and ending with a bristle (arista)
  • two simple eyes (ocelli) present on the top or front of the head
  • tarsi made of three segments
  • front femora with at most weak spines
  • hind tibia with one or more distinct keels, with a row of movable spines on each, sometimes on enlarged bases
  • base of middle legs close together where they originate under the thorax
  • front wings not particularly thickened. An additional, unique character of leafhoppers is the production of brochosomes which are thought to protect egg masses from predation and pathogens. Leafhoppers are susceptible to various pathogens; viruses as in the(Dicistroviridae), bacteria, fungi, as well as having a host of parasitoids which attack the eggs.
Leafhoppers are often responsible for the spread of plant pathogens espicially viruses and phytoplasmas. In some cases these plant pathogens are also pathogens of the insect themselves, and can replicate within the salivary glands.
leafhopper in French: Cicadellidae
leafhopper in Italian: Cicadellidae
leafhopper in Lithuanian: Cikadėlės
leafhopper in Hungarian: Mezeikabóca-félék
leafhopper in Japanese: ヨコバイ
leafhopper in Norwegian: Dvergsikader
leafhopper in Slovenian: Mali škržatki
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