The smaller green leafhopper or vine leafhopper, Empoasca vitis, is mainly a pest of grapevine but can also attack a variety of other fruit crops like for instance apple, cherry, plum and blackberries. It occurs in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
Life cycle and appearance of Smaller green leafhopper
Adult smaller green leafhoppers are 3-4 mm long, narrow and light green with purplish eyes. Their wings are longer than the body. They lay their eggs into the tissue of leaf veins and stalks. Therefore the eggs cannot be seen. There are five nymphal instars. The first instar nymphs are small and white, later stages turn light green as they adulthood. From the third stage onwards the developing wings are visible.
Adult Empoasca vitis overwinter on conifers or other evergreens adjacent to vineyards. From there, they migrate into the vineyards soon after bud burst in spring. Adults and nymphs live on the lower surface of the leaves where they suck plant juice from the phloem. They move quickly and jumpr a few centimetres when they are disturbed. Depending on the vine growing region, the smaller green leafhopper has one to four generations on grapevine before returning to the winter hosts.
On white grape varieties, the feeding of the leafhoppers initially causes light green and later yellow discolorations of the areas between the leaf veins, starting from the leaf margins. Later the leaf margins roll inwards and the margins turn dry and brown. On red varieties, the affected areas are red instead of yellow. Often damaged leaves are brown and dry at the margins, red further inwards and green in the centre.