DURHAM, N.H. They may be a small insect, but some leafhoppers can carry a big punch, devastating crops and causing millions of dollars in damage. But now New Hampshire farmers have a new source to help them identify the "bad" leafhoppers from the "good" leafhoppers. For the first time, New Hampshire's nearly 600 leafhoppers have been identified and cataloged by researchers at the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.
"Leafhoppers are an important economic group, particularly for some tree crops such as peaches and cherries that are tremendously valuable crops. There are important diseases that are carried only by the leafhoppers that can devastate orchards and fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers," says entomologist Don Chandler, a UNH zoology professor and NHAES researcher who oversaw the project and who curates the university's insect collection.
Specifically, Chandler and his team looked at which leafhoppers carry Aster yellows, which can damage vegetables and cut flowers, and X-disease, which can damage fruit crops.
New Hampshire's agriculture industry is rapidly changing in the direction of high value/acreage crops, such as organically grown crops, stone fruits, grapes, woody ornamentals, and flowers grown outdoors for the retail market. Chandler says these have values as high as $7,000 an acre for peaches, and $15,000 to $30,000 an acre for sweet cherries. All are known to be attractive to certain leafhoppers, and most of these are susceptible to Aster yellows or X-disease. X-disease can limit the lifespan of fruit trees to about 10 years, and susceptible stone fruits can die within one to two years.
"Relatively little was known about their abundance and where they are found in the state. New Hampshire, for whatever reason, is exceptionally diverse in leafhoppers. Our goal was to investigate which leafhoppers are present, not only in man
|Contact: Lori Wright|
University of New Hampshire