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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Beet Leafhopper

Neoaliturus tenellus

Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Cicadellidae

Neoaliturus tenellus

Photographer:G. Oldfield Affiliation:USDA Source:www.bugwood.org Copyright:CC BY 3.0


Adult Description: The beet leafhopper (Circulifer tenellus) is 0.125 inches in length, pale green or gray in body color, and has dark round markings on the dorsal side of the wings and body. The overall body shape is wedge or arrow in that the wings taper off and come to a soft point at the posterior end.

Larva Description: The nymph stage looks like a smaller version of the adult beet leafhopper with under developed wings.

Host Plant: Beets, tomato, chile plants

Ecological Threat

The beet leafhopper causes damage to beets and other crops through the transmission of the Beet Curly Top Virus through its feeding mechanism of the plant's phloem. The affects of Beet Curly Top Virus includes dwarfed, crinkled, and inward rolled leaves; swollen, rough, and distorted roots with hair growth; and dark necrotic phloem tissue. Chile plants are especially susceptible to the virus in that it prevents the plant from producing and causes a stunt in its growth. If the plant suffers a late season infection the fruit is usually small, round, and not marketable.


In early Spring the adult beet leafhopper locates a host plant and lays eggs on it's leaves. The eggs hatch into the nymph stage within 2 to 3 months. The beet leafhopper life cycle involves 3 morphs including: summer morph (3-4 months), winter morph (overwintering females), and migratory morph (capable of flying hundreds of miles).


The specific time or method of transportation of the beet leafhopper is not known. However, the migratory morph is capable of flying over hundreds of miles allowing the leafhopper to travel across an ocean without human assistance.

Native Origin


Current Location

The beet leafhopper can be found in grassy areas containing tall grasses and weeds, or in tomato and beet fields feeding on the phloem of the host plant.

CA, NM, OK, KS, CO, and TX

Texas: West Texas, Rio Grande Valley


The Beet Leafhopper resembles Empoasca leafhoppers in shape, but the Empoasca are completely green in body color with no dark spots.


Management of the beet leafhopper includes keeping weeds under control around the perimeter or mixed in with beet crops. It is also recommended to remove any volunteer sugar beets that may grow on the perimeter of the field. Removing the weeds and voluntary beets limits places for the beet leafhopper to land and become established while migrating.


Google Search: Circulifer tenellus
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Bennett, C. W. 1971. The curly top disease of sugarbeet and other plants. The Amer. Phytopathol. Soc.Monogr. No. 7.

Cook, W. C. 1967. Life history, host plants, and migrations of the beet leafhopper in the western United States. U.S.D.A. Tech. Bull. 1365. 122 pp.

Creamer, Rebecca, Jared Carpenter, Jaime Rascon. 2003. Incidence of the Beet Leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus (Homoptera:Cicadellidae), in New Mexico chile. Southwestern Entomologist 28(3): 177-182.

Creamer, R., Hubble, H., & Lewis, A. 2005. Curtovirus infection of chile pepper in New Mexico. Plant disease, 89(5), 480-486.

Internet Sources



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