NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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Garden fleahoppers, Microtechnites bractatus, are small plant bugs that feed on various garden plants and weeds. They are called fleahoppers because they seem to be about the size of fleas and they jump readily. Females may have very short wings or normal wings. Males all have normal wings. Garden fleahoppers overwinter as eggs laid from August through September. Each female lays about 100 eggs by inserting them into the stems or leaves so that just the tip of the egg is level with the plant surface. Nymphs hatch in early spring and feed on undersides of leaves. Newly hatched nymphs are pale green but become darker green with each molt. Nymphs feed and develop from 11 to 35 days before maturing. Adult fleahoppers live 1 to 3 months. We have at least 5 generations per year in North Carolina, and all stages can be found during the growing season.

A male garden fleahopper.

A male garden fleahopper.

Photo by J.R. Baker

A female garden fleahopper.

A short-winged female garden fleahopper.

Photo by J.R. Baker

Garden fleahopper damage to Melampodium.

Photo by J.R. Baker

Host Plants and Damage

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Garden fleahoppers infest a wide range of ornamental, garden, and forage plants as well as many weeds and even grasses. Vegetable hosts include bean, beet, cabbage, celery, corn, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, and tomato. Fleahoppers cause pale spots on the upper leaf surface and spots of excrement on the lower surface. Heavily infested leaves become chlorotic and may drop prematurely.

Residential Recommendation

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Garden fleahoppers are plagued with parasitic wasps that kill the moving stages as well as their eggs. This may explain why garden fleahoppers vary in abundance. On ornamentals garden fleahopper infestations are typically sporadic so that one application of a pesticide may bring months or years of relief. Pyrethroids, Sevin, or Orthene should give adequate control of fleahoppers. Because eggs are deposited inside stems and leaves and thereby protected from insecticide sprays, a second application may be necessary 5–7 days after the first application.


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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.


Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

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Publication date: Nov. 14, 2013
Revised: Nov. 3, 2023

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