Photographer: John Smith http://bigthicketcritters.com/
Adults are 4.2-5.5mm and yellow with a central brown stripe that runs down the body. The common name of Sophonia orientalis is Two-spotted leafhopper, which refers to the two prominent eye-spots on the posterior end. Its true eyes are the same yellow as the body. They have piercing mouthparts that allows them to feed on the phloem and xylem of plants. Their saliva helps liquefy the plant tissue allowing them to quickly drain the plant’s nutrients.
Being a polyphagous insect helped Sophonia orientalis become a very invasive species in Hawaii. It has been documented to attack over 235 plants that are of economic and ecological importance. A symptom of infestation is the yellowing between leaf veins, and can lead to total chlorosis, leaf distortion and stunting of the plant. In 1996, breeding colonies were found in California but populations have remained fairly low. However, with this pest it doesn’t require high population numbers in order to cause destruction. The 4 larval and final adult stage are all feeding stages and can cause damage to the plants.
This leafhopper’s exact life history is unknown, but it is known to have several generations occur throughout the year. During winter in Hawaii, can take up to 3 months to complete a generation. Adults mate and females oviposit eggs on leaves. After eggs are hatched the leafhopper goes through 4 larval stages, each marked by the shedding of the exoskeleton until the final molt into adult. All lifecycle stages are polyphagous and can cause damage to the host plants.
First discovered in Hawaii on the island of Oahu in 1987. Since then it has widely distributed throughout all of the islands due to its own mobility and thru transportation of host plants by humans. It reached California in 1996 through cut flower shipments from Hawaii, but has not reach highly-invasive proportions. It has been observed in Texas since 2013. Published photos on Bugguide.net have shown this leafhopper to be present in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.
Asia: from Pakistan to Japan
U.S. Habitat: The two-spotted leafhopper is very adaptable to its environments by being polyphagous and tolerant of various habitats. It has been found at varying elevations in Hawaii, and has established in southern California and most of the Southeastern United States.
U.S. Present: AL, CA, FL, GA, HI, NC and TX
Texas: Harris and Liberty Counties
With the leafhopper having a 3-4-month development cycle in Hawaii, Management strategies have focused around biological controls. Several native and imported egg parasitoids from the family Mymaridae have shown some success in population management. A few genera that have shown promise are: Polynema sp., Schizophragma sp. and Chaetomymar sp. Studies in Hawaii noticed that egg parasitism was more successful at lower elevations.
Aguin-Pombo, D., Aguiar, A. F., & Kuznetsova, V. G. (2007). Bionomics and taxonomy of leafhopper Sophonia orientalis (Homoptera: Cicadellidae), a Pacific pest species in the Macaronesian archipelagos. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 100(1), 19-26.
Dietrich, C. H. (2011). A remarkable new genus of Nirvanini (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Evacanthinae) from Southeast Asia. Zootaxa, 2970, 63-67.
Duan, J. J., & Messing, R. H. (2000). Mating, oviposition, and development of Sophonia rufofascia (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) in Hawaii. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93(3), 554-558.
Fukada M.T. (1996) Distribution, host range, and seasonal abundance of the two spotted leafhopper, Sophonia rufofascia (Kuoh and Kuoh) in Hawaii. M.S. thesis. University of Hawaii. Manoa, HI.
Webb, M. D., & Viraktamath, C. A. (2004). On the identity of an invasive leafhopper on Hawaii (Hemiptera, Cicadellidae, Nirvaninae). Zootaxa, 692, 1-6.
Wilson, M., Bensusan, K., Perez, C., & Torres, J. L. (2011). First records of the exotic leafhopper Sophonia orientalis (Matsumura, 1912)(Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadellidae) for the Iberian Peninsula and mainland Europe. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 94(5), 664-669.