Diseases of  Alfalfa  Corn  Soybeans  Wheat

Insect Pests of  Alfalfa  Corn  Soybeans  Wheat

Weeds  Identify  Monocots  Dicots  Grasses  Sedges  Lilies  Broadleaf

Scout Info
Kentucky IPM Pest Information Pages

Potato Leafhopper: Kentucky Alfalfa IPM

Potato Leafhopper

Potato leafhoppers are the major pest of second, third, and fourth cuttings in established fields. They can cause serious damage before the first cutting in fall- and spring-seeded fields. Their feeding produces a distinctive, yellow triangular area at the tip of the leaf that is called "hopper burn".


Adults of the potato leafhopper are green, wedge-shaped insects less than 1/8 inch long. Eggs are laid in the stems and larger veins of the host plant. Nymphs resemble adults in general shape but are much smaller and do not have wings. These insects use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap. In warm weather, the leafhopper life cycle takes about three weeks. There can be 3 to 4 generations each year with damage usually ending in mid-July.

Potato Leafhopper Adult


Potato Leafhopper Burn

Potato leafhopper feeding damages vascular tissue and blocks sap flow in leaves, producing the triangular-shaped yellowing at the tip of the leaves called "hopper burn". This greatly reduces hay quality. Regrowth following cutting can be delayed, plants can be stunted, and plant root reserves can be reduced. Once hopper burn is obvious in the field, the damage to the crop has been done.

Potato Leafhopper Activity

Potato leafhopper pest activity

Please note: Actual dates vary from season to season, these are approximations only. This calendar was constructed using data from Kentucky, USA. Contact your county extension agent or agricultural consultant for information tailored to your locality.

IPM Techniques and Scouting Procedures

The amount of damage that potato leafhoppers cause is related to the size of insect population and height of alfalfa. Damaging numbers must be determined before symptoms appear.

References and Additional Information

This site was created and is maintained by Pat Dillon, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, S-225 Agricultural Science Ctr North, Lexington, KY USA  40546-0091 (phone: 859/257-3571). Please send questions or suggestions to: pdillon@uky.edu