Leafhoppers, Treehoppers, Spittlebugs and Planthoppers are True Bugs (order Hemiptera). True bugs are known for their sucking mouthparts and having a “nymph” stage before adulthood. Leafhoppers, Treehoppers, and Spittlebugs are most closely related to Cicadas, while Planthoppers are a little more distantly related. They are all small insects that feed on plants and are sometimes regarded as pests. As their names suggest, most of them can jump.
Treehoppers are notable in their enlarged “pronotum” (the top part of the thorax just behind the head), which often forms fantastic shapes that aid the little insects in camouflage or defense. They are usually found on trees.
Leafhoppers, many of which are also known as “sharpshooters”, are small slender insects that use their sucking mouthparts to feed on grasses, plants, and trees.
Blue-Green Sharpshooter (– To 0.4″. Green to blue-green with dark veins and a triangular yellow patch on back. Found in riparian areas, often on blackberry and other vines. (photo © Graphocephala atropunctata) Eric Carlson)
Thickhorn Sharp-headed Leafhopper ( – 0.3-0.4″. Green with blue veins, face is not dark below. A triangular yellow patch on back. “Horn” on nose is thick and blunt. (photo © Draeculacephala crassicornis) corndog)
Robinson’s Sharp-headed Leafhopper (– To 0.4″. Green with blue veins, dark below eye. “Horn” on nose is long and sharp. Found on grass in fields and lawns. (photo © Draeculacephala robinsoni) Sean McCann)
Rhododendron Leafhopper (– To 0.4″. Bright green with slanted red lines. Yellow nose “horn” with black eyestripe. Feeds on rhododendron. Introduced from SE USA. (photo © Graphocephala fennahi) eebee)
– 0.2″. Tan to yellowish-green, including veins on transparent wings. Yellow triangular patch with black spots. Dark abdomen with yellow ribbing. Found in alfalfa and orchards. (photo © Germinate Leafhopper ( Colladonus geminatus) Chris Evers)
Veined Round-headed Leafhopper (– To 0.2″. Green to yellowish with dark veins showing in transparent wings. Head is short and round with bulbous eyes. (photo © Idiocerus nervatus) Eric Carpenter)
Eight-lined Leafhopper (– To 0.5″. Males transparent green with a series of red lines on the pronotum, females have red markings all over. Found on pines. (photo © Gyponana octolineata) oxalismtp)
Japanese Maple Leafhopper (– 0.25″. Yellowish horn protrudes in front. “Frowning face” on back of thorax. Transparent wings with reddish veins and brown striping. Dark abdomen with light ribbing. Feeds on maple. Introduced from Asia. (photo © Japananus hyalinus) Patrick Hanly)
Fruit Tree Leafhopper (– To 0.15″. White with distinct red zigzag pattern. Brown triangular patch and clear area between red lines is characteristic. Found on fruit trees, oaks, and other plants. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Zygina flammigera) Eric Carlson)
– 0.3″. Brown with dark speckling. Light marks near end of wings. Flat head. Found on privet, fruit trees, and roses. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Privet Leafhopper ( Fieberiella florii) David Anderson)
– To 0.3″. Brown with broken white veins and black dashes. Often has pair of yellow “eyes” with black center. Found on deciduous trees, especially oak. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Variegated Leafhopper ( Allygus mixtus) Felix Riegel)
Japanese Leafhopper (– 0.25″. Brown with black network and ivory markings . Orange mark between eyes. Snout is not pointed. Feeds on shrubs in hardwood forest. Introduced from Asia. (photo © Orientus ishidae) Chloe and Trevor)
Northwest Marbled Leafhopper ( – 0.2″. Yellowish-brown with a pattern of ivory and dark brown markings. Crescent-shaped snout is pointed at end. Sometimes found in orchards. (photo © Osbornellus borealis) Harsi Parker)
Aggregating Leafhopper ( – 0.1-0.2″. Tan to brown with distinct light veins. Large black marks between eyes. Found on crops including corn and grasses. (photo © Amblysellus grex) Harsi Parker)
Mountain Leafhopper (– 0.2″. Tan, brown, or black base color with yellow or white nose, pronotum, and marks on top middle and bottom of wings. (photo © Colladonus montanus) sarasims)
Spittlebugs, also known as Froghoppers, have nymphs that produce a frothy nest of bubbles as they eat plants. The bubbles, produced from plant sap, conceal the nymph from predators as well as protecting it from heat, freezing, or desiccation. They can be distinguished from Leafhoppers as they only have a couple of spines on their hind legs, while Leafhoppers have an entire row of spines.
Meadow Spittlebug ( Philaenus spumarius) adult – 0.2-0.3″. Yellow, tan, black, or a mix, with two tiny black spots on the tip of the “nose”. Tiny hairs and no pits on the body distinguish them from forest spittlebugs, as does their small size. (photo © Eric Carlson)
Meadow Spittlebug nymph – These immature wingless creatures are typically green, though can also be yellow, tan, brown, or pink. Lacks deep red-rust color of Douglas Fir nymph. (photo © Bill Keim)
Meadow Spittlebug foam – Nymphs are only found inside this foam. Usually found on plant stems, especially in gardens and fields, though will also use woody trees on occasion. (photo © sarahnwilson)
Douglas Fir Spittlebug ( Aphrophora permutata) adult – 0.4-0.6″. A beautiful mottled leaf-brown or grey, often with diagonal white lines on top. Large size and a pitted surface distinguishes them from Meadow Spittlebugs. (photo © Ken Kellman)
Douglas Fir Spittlebug nymph – Nymphs have a clearish head, black thorax, and rusty abdomen with a white-and-black tip. The deep red abdomen and forest habitat distinguish them. (photo © Lori Gong)
Douglas Fir Spittlebug foam – These spittlebugs will build their nest directly on Douglas-fir bark or twigs, but can also be found on various vegetation below Douglas-fir trees. A different species uses lodgepole pine. (photo © trientalid)
Planthoppers are a separate group somewhat more distantly related from the first three. They tend to move more slowly, preferring to evade detection as a first resort rather than jumping to safety.
– 0.15″. Orange to tan with clear wings. Males have dark abdomen and pair of black spots on top and side of thorax. Associated with fields such as wheatgrass or fescue. (photo © Black-spotted Field Planthopper ( Muirodelphax arvensis) Tom Murray)
Wood Grove Planthopper (– To 0.25″. Wings varied brown with two indistinct darker stripes across and white spotting. Head and thorax solid reddish-brown to brown. Adults feed on conifer sap while nymphs eat associated fungi. (photo © Synecdoche nemoralis) Scott Gilmore)
Western Tapered Planthopper (– 0.4″. Mottled gray to brown with large dark spot in center. Head/thorax are dark. Protrusion in front relatively short, 1.5x as long as wide. Wings tapered at both ends. (photo © Cixidia fusiformis) Paul G. Johnson)
Red-fanned Planthopper ( – 0.4″. Reddish or pinkish veins, long wings that fan out at the end. Red head projects forward up to point, white lines over the eyes. Feeds on deciduous trees and their fungi. (photo © Apache degeeri) Ashley Bradford)
Jumping Spider Mimic Planthopper ( – 0.2-0.3″. Males black with tan saddle striped in black/white, females alternate dark brown and tan. Enlarged front legs and movement appear to mimic jumping spider. Feeds on grass. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Caliscelis bonellii) Marcello Consolo)
Abnormal Partridge Bug (– 0.3″. Tan or beige with darker head/proboscis. Head is upturned. Proboscis angled and thickened more than any related species. Feeds on milkweed sap. (photo © Scolops abnormis) K Schneider)
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