Hemiptera / Auchenorrhyncha

Scolypopa australis

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Passionvine hoppers (Scolypopa australis) are an introduced pest species from Australia which can cause great damage to a wide variety of edible and non-edible plants. Populations can skyrocket quickly and if left uncontrolled, can affect plant health, vigour and fruiting, with heavy infestations resulting in plant death.

Best treatment for Passionvine Hoppers

Spray Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus, Vegie & Ornamental Spray Ready to Use directly onto Ants and Sooty Mould.

  • Treat at the earliest sign of infestation for fast, easy and effective control
  • Prune off any leaves or stems infested with eggs.
  • Wash off any parts of the plant covered in honeydew by vigorously hosing with water.

 

What are Passionvine Hoppers and how to get rid of them

Description:

Passionvine hoppers are long and oval shaped with a pointed rear, and apart from the wings, are similar in appearance to cicadas. Passionvine hoppers are pale brown and up to 6.2 mm in length.

At the front of the head is a large plate (clypeus), which looks like a large forehead. The ‘face’ is long and extends down to long and thin, piercing and sucking mouthparts. At either side of the head are two large compound eyes and antennae which are impossible to see.  

Behind the head, attached to the underside of the middle section of the body (thorax) are three pairs of short legs. Legs are used for walking and jumping. Attached to the upper side of the thorax are two pairs of wings. The forewings are mottled brown and transparent, with brown veins and wing margins giving a lacy brown appearance. While at rest, wings are laid flat and present as a distinct triangular shape.

Behaviour:

Nymphs and adults can be found at the tips of stems, often in large groups. When disturbed, both can jump which sometimes produces a loud snapping or clicking noise. Adults use wings for flying and can also jump before flying away when disturbed.

Both adults and nymphs pierce the plants vascular system (phloem) and suck out plant fluids to extract sugars. Excess water and sugars are excreted as a sticky clear substance called honeydew. Honeydew attracts other insects such as Ants which help to protect Passionvine Hoppers in exchange for honeydew, a process known as mutualist symbiosis. Excess honeydew residing on the leaves, stems and trunk of plants can cause a secondary fungal disease called Sooty Mould which can be detrimental to plant health. Honeydew can be attractive to bees and may even cause ‘honey poisoning’ whereby bees gather honeydew, and consequently plant toxins, which is then taken back to the colony. These plant toxins can be harmful to bee colonies and those whom eat the honey.

Lifecycle:

After mating, females lay eggs in late summer to early autumn, with one generation per year. Eggs are laid inside dead or living stems, leaf midribs and sometimes in bamboo stakes. Eggs are laid in a neat continuous row which are inserted into plant tissue using a sharp tube-like organ (ovipositor). After egg is inserted, pulped plant fibres are used to plug the hole, this plug may remain visible at the surface. Eggs are cream-coloured, oval-shaped and up to 0.87mm long.

Eggs hatch in spring and juveniles (nymphs) emerge. Nymphs are similar to adults, except nymphs are smaller (less than 1 mm in length), wingless and paler in colour. Nymphs are sometimes called “fluffy bums” attributed to the tuft of white fluff (filaments) attached to the tip of their rear (abdomen). These long filaments are sometimes in a circular fan shape and are reminiscent of a peacock’s tail. Nymphs grow through various developmental (nymphal) stages and cast skins (moult) after each of the 5 nymphal stages. Nymphs are prevalent from early spring through to late summer.

After the final developmental stage, adults take a further 2 weeks to mature, and are then ready for mating. Adults are most active from mid-summer to early winter.

Habitat:

Passionvine Hoppers feed on plant fluids from the plant vascular system (phloem) to extract sugars.

Passionvine Hoppers are most active from spring through to early winter and prefer warm and humid conditions. They are often found in large groups and can be found feeding on tips of stems and leaves during the day.

Natural enemies:

Parasitoid wasps (see beneficial wasps), mites and fungi.

What plants are impacted by Passionvine Hoppers

Passionvine Hoppers mostly attack the tips of the leaves and stems. They secrete a sugary honeydew substance, which attracts a fungus, Sooty Mould. If left untreated, it can cover the whole plant with ‘black soot’ and cause the plant to become stunted, reduce plant vigour and impact fruiting. Passionvine Hoppers have a very broad host plant range, below are some examples.

Edible plants such as:

  • Avocado
  • Cherry
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Kiwifruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Peaches
  • Pumpkin
  • Rhubarb
  • Sunflowers
  • Squash

Non-edible plants such as:

  • Agapanthus
  • Barberry (Berberis sp.)
  • Butterfly bush (Buddleja sp.)
  • Citrus
  • Clematis
  • Coprosma
  • Cordylines
  • Dahlia
  • Eucalpypts (Gum trees)
  • Ferns such as Asplenium sp., Blechnum sp. and tree ferns
  • Hebes
  • Hydrangea
  • Jasmine
  • Maples
  • New Zealand Flax
  • Passion vines
  • Pittosporum
  • Sunflowers
  • Tea trees

Weed plant species such as:

  • Bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. rotundata)
  • Fireweed (Senecio sp.)
  • Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
  • Lantana (Lantana camara)
  • Privets (Ligustrum sp.)
  • Purple tops (Verbena bonariensis)
  • Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius subsp. scoparius)

Symptoms of Passionvine Hoppers damage

  • Clear sticky substance (honeydew) and/or a black powdery substance (Sooty Mould) on leaves, stems and trunk, possibly even nearby surfaces.
  • Stunted growth and reduced plant health and vigour.
  • Premature leaf and fruit drop.
  • Stunted fruits and poor fruit quality.
  • Wilted new foliage and new stems.
  • Dieback of parts of the plant.
  • Plant death.

Further evidence of passionvine hoppers:

  • Adults and Juveniles (nymphs) - often found at the tips of leaves and stems where most plant sugars are produced.
  • Shed skins (moults) - at each stage of growth (nymphal) development, nymphs moult and leave behind former skins (exoskeletons).
  • Eggs - holes in a row along stems or leaves, often with a pulpy tip. Eggs are found inside.
  • Sound - loud snapping or clicking noise made after jumping. 

How to prevent Passionvine Hoppers appearing

  • Control weeds in the garden such as Bitou bush, Fireweed, Japanese Honeysuckle, Lantana, Privets, Purple tops and Scotch broom that may be acting as alternate host plant. Weeds can be controlled either by: being sprayed using various Yates Zero products (such as Yates Zero Super Concentrate Weedkiller); and/or by hand removal.
  • To improve plant health and resiliency to pest and disease attack, ensure plants are well fed and watered regularly. Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food releases nutrients slowly, improves the structure and moisture retention of the soil and encourages earthworms and beneficial soil micro-organisms.
  • Regularly monitor plants for any signs or symptoms of Passionvine Hoppers and other pest/disease attacks. Smaller infestations are much quicker and easier to control. 

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