Tiny sap suckers, resembling miniature cicadas
Each psyllid species feeds on only one plant species
Build “lerps” from wax and honeydew
Psyllids are tiny sap-sucking insects that resemble miniature cicadas. Adults are 2.10 mm to 5 mm long, similar in size to large winged aphids. They have strong jumping legs and short antennae. Nymphs are flattened and less active than adults.
Both nymphs and adults damage plants by sucking sap from the leaves, sometimes building protective covers made from wax and honeydew, called lerps. There are many psyllid species, some of which attack crops such as citrus, olive, potato and tomato. Each psyllid species feeds on only one plant species or related plant group.
Adult females lay eggs that hatch and develop through about five instars before maturing into winged adults. They thrive in spring when temperatures warm and host plants are in growth mode, requiring only a few weeks to develop from egg to adult. Development and reproduction are stunted during cool weather. Most species produce three to five generations per year, while some may have only one.
Signs of infestation may include discoloration, dimpling or pock marks on leaves, leaf drop and defoliation, as well as a sooty mold that grows on the honeydew psyllids excrete. The appearance of lerps can help identify psyllid infestations.