New leafhopper pest found in California vineyards

11/09/2012 01:08:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

virginia creeper leafhopperCourtesy Ohio State UniversityThe Virginia creeper leafhopper, known scientifically as Erythroneura ziczac, can defoliate grapevines if left untreated.A new pest—the Virginia creeper leafhopper—has been found in California grape vineyards from the Oregon border to the northern Sacramento Valley.

So far, it's been reported primarily in backyard and organic vineyards and has not been confirmed in the premium wine-producing areas of Napa or Sonoma counties, according to a University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser report.

But it has been found in neighboring Lake and Mendocino counties.

The newcomer, which is common in the East, is more damaging than the Western grape leafhopper and may cause complete defoliation if left untreated, according to the report.

Western leafhoppers are common in California vineyards.

In many parts of California, natural enemies, such as parasitic wasps, have been able to control Western grape leafhoppers.

A complex of Anagrus wasps lay their eggs in leafhopper eggs. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the eggs, destroying them.

Whether they'll do the same to Virginia creeper leafhoppers is unknown because it's still so new.

As its name implies, the new leafhopper feeds on Virginia creeper, elm, Boston ivy and grapes, according to Montana State University Extension information. 

Lucia Varela, a UC integrated pest management specialist, will present an update on this pest as well as others on March 6, 2013, at the Yountville Community Center.

For information on how to differentiate leafhopper species, view the UC video.

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