Eupteryx melissae is a common leafhopper which specifically feeds on sage and other plants in the Lamiaceae family. Mallow, lemonbalm and catmint are some of its other favoured foods. It's a true bug (Order: Hemiptera), so feeds using a needle-like feeding tube. It sucks up the liquid plant material from within the leaves. Its feeding behaviour causes pale mottling to appear on leaves. It may seem unsightly, but all damage is purely aesthetic, with plant health remaining unaffected. Leafhoppers are preyed upon by an abundance of predatory arthropods which are frequent garden visitors. These include lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders, damsel bugs and ladybirds.
Plants can tolerate the damage caused by Eupteryx melissae.
They can cause leaves to become mottled.
Adults: They're tiny bullet-shaped insects (length: 3-4mm/ under half an inch) with incredible camouflage when on its host plants. The wings fold over the body like a tent. They're pale green and spotted with browns on the wings with some black spots on the head. Nymphs: Juvenile insects are typically small and pale. Eggs: Eggs are injected into plant tissue so often go unnoticed by gardeners.
Leaf mottling. Tiny bugs jumping off plants. Can sometimes stunt growth. 'Hopper burn' with heavier infestations.
Europe and New Zealand
Leafhoppers are a food resource for spiders, parasitic wasps and small insect-eating birds, so attracting these to your garden will limit the damage caused by these bugs. This can be done by planting pollinator-friendly flowers, hanging baskets, climbing plants, or incorporating some form of habitat/ insect hotel in the garden. Neem oil can be useful on small to medium-sized plants. Neem oil should only be applied during cool periods of the day.
In most cases, leafhoppers won't cause significant damage. However, some species can be problematic. If a chemical treatment is sought, please check with your local regulating body for guidance on active ingredients and their authorisation for use. Plants that are in flower should never be sprayed due to the dangers they pose to pollinators. There are an array of contact insecticides available for use on the market that is more environmentally friendly than the above products (e.g. natural pyrethrum/pyrethrins and insecticidal soaps). Persistent products include synthetic insecticides with a contact mode of action (e.g. cypermethrin, phenothrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and deltamethrin). These can still be toxic to some wildlife and a pollutant to water bodies, so please take care to research products and read instructions carefully before using them.
Many plants in the Mint family (Lamiaceae).