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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Sugarcane Planthopper

Perkinsiella saccharicida

Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Delphacidae

Perkinsiella saccharicida

Charles Bartlett, discoverlife.org


Perkinsiella saccharicida is a small (4.5-6mm) delphacid plant hopper that can be distinguished from other plant hopper families by thumb-like antenna and a spur on the hind tarsus. Antennae are also flattened and their bodies are distinctly bicolored along with wings that have smoky markings. Nymphs have same coloration just no wings present.

Host Plant: Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum), Sedges (Carex sp.), Rice (Oryza sativa) and Arabica coffee (Coffea Arabica)


Ecological Threat

In Australia, the pests have been known to reach plague proportions decimating crops and cause severe crop losses in Hawaii. Direct damage by P. saccharicida includes plant tissue damage by the ovipositor and by the feeding of nymphs and adults. This damaged tissue can be infected by red-hot fungus (Glomerella tucumanensis), called “hopper-burn” or “red rot of sugarcane”. The fungus causes red leaf lesions, wilting, and growth reduction. Also, the pathogen changes sucrose into glucose and alcohol giving the cane juice a bad odor and making the crops unmarketable. Perkinsiella saccharicida is also a vector for the virus that causes Fiji disease (FD), which is one of the most important diseases of sugarcane in Australia, several sugarcane producing areas of Asia and the Pacific region. The larval stages of Perkinsiella saccharicida are able to transmit the virus and remain infective for at least 16 days. Thankfully, studies have shown that Perkinsiella saccharicida may not be the most effective vector for FD and there are several sugarcane cultivars that are resistant to Fiji disease.


Females deposit cylindrical eggs in groups of 2-12 on plant leaves and covered in a white waxy like material that turns dark a few days later. Females can lay up to 300 eggs in the 30 day adult lifespan. Eggs take 2-5 weeks before hatching and there are 5 instars that take about 30 days to develop into adults. Multiple generations are created per year and can be found throughout the year. Flying adults are very mobile and are attracted to lights in large numbers.


In the late 1930s it had reached pest status in Hawaii and was found in Florida in 1982 and confirmed as P. saccharicida in 1994. That same year, it was detected in Louisiana, a state that dedicates over 400,000 acres in 22 parishes to sugarcane production. Perkinsiella saccharicida has been found sporadically in Texas sugarcane fields since 1989. In 2012 it was caught by TISI in by-catch from San Patricio County, Texas.

Native Origin

Asia, Australia and parts of Africa

Current Location

U.S. Present: AL, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS and TX

U.S. Habitat: Tropical and Temperate areas where sugarcane and other host plants are grown.


For this insect biological control has proven to be an important strategy for management of P. saccharicida in the United States. Successful biological control was carried out in Hawaii where Tytthus mundulus and Anagrus optabilis were the effective introduced natural enemies. Ootetrastichus sp. and Pseudogonatopus hospes, the large black Dryinid parasitoid from China, also became established there. Nesominesa hawaiiensis may prove effective as a parasitoid. The other parasitoid flies, Pipunculus juvator and P. hawaiiensis, were also recorded. The predator Tytthus mundulus effectively controlled the population of P. saccharicida by about 80%. Systemic insecticides, diazinon, dimethoate, and dimefox have been applied for the control of leafhoppers and gave good results. Due to the mode of application these insecticides appear not to have toxic effects on natural enemies of the planthopper.


Emeljanov, A. F. (1994). The species of Perkinsiella introduced into Florida is the genuine P. saccharicida Kirkaldy (Homoptera: Delphacidae). Zoosystematica Rossica, 3.

Francki, R. I. B., Ryan, C. C., Hatta, T., Rohozinski, J., & Grivell, C. J. (1986). Serological detection of Fiji disease virus antigens in the planthopper Perkinsiella saccharicida and its inefficient ability to transmit the virus. Plant pathology, 35(3), 324-328.

Meagher, R. L., & Legaspi, J. C. (2003). Within-field distribution of three homopteran species in Texas sugarcane. Southwestern Entomologist, 28(1), 1-10.

Sosa Jr., O (1985) The Sugarcane Delphacid, Perkinsiella saccharicida (Homoptera: Delphacidae), a Sugarcane Pest New to North America Detected in Florida. The Florida Entomologist , Vol. 68, No. 2 pp. 357-360.

Swezey, O. H. (1936). Biological control of the sugar cane leafhopper in Hawaii.

White, W. H., Reagan, T. E., & Sosa, O. (1995). The sugarcane delphacid (Homoptera: Delphacidae) extends its North American range into Louisiana. The Florida Entomologist, 78(4), 617-619.


Internet Sources




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