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Sage and Ligurian leafhoppers can cause a coarse pale mottling on sage, rosemary, lavender and related plants in the spring and summer.
Sage leafhopper damage on mint
Leafhoppers are small sap-feeding insects that feed on the undersides of leaves. Sage and Ligurian leafhoppers are similar in appearance, they suck sap from aromatic plants in the Lamiaceae family, including sage, mints, lavender, bergamot, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and lemon balm. Their feeding causes a course pale mottling of the foliage.
These leafhoppers are widespread in the UK. The adults are up to 3.5mm long, pale green and heavily dappled with brown and black markings. The adult insects are broadest at the head end and sit with their wings folded back over their bodies. When disturbed, they readily jump and can fly short distances. The nymphs are creamy white in colour and do not have fully formed wings. As leafhopper nymphs grow they shed their skins several times. The discarded white skins can often remain attached to the lower leaf surface and are sometimes referred to as ‘ghost insects’.
These leafhoppers overwinter as eggs on its host plants and are active from May until the autumn.
Sage and Ligurian leafhoppers cause a pale mottling on upper leaf surfaces of host plants. By late summer affected leaves may be heavily mottled, although this seems to have little effect on the plants’ growth.
Damage caused by sage and Ligurian leafhoppers can generally be tolerated by host plants, and so control is not necessary. Affected herbs are safe to eat.
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