Agriculture: Tomato Pest Management Guidelines

Beet Leafhopper

  • Circulifer tenellus
  • Description of the Pest

    Adult beet leafhoppers are 0.12 inch (3 mm) in length, pale green to tan in color, and may have dark markings.


    While some damage is caused by nymph and adult feeding, beet leafhopper is a serious pest because it vectors Beet curly top geminivirus. Curly top-infected plants turn yellow and stop growing. Leaves roll upward and turn purplish. Leaves and stems become stiff. Spring plantings are the most susceptible. The insect migrates from overwintering hosts in the foothills and is mostly a problem on the west side of San Joaquin Valley.


    The California Department of Food and Agriculture surveys populations of beet leafhoppers in foothill breeding areas each year and sprays when necessary to reduce leafhopper migration into valley crops.

    Insecticides applied to infested fields to control beet leafhopper and reduce the spread of the curly top pathogen may prevent some infield spread, although infected plants will not recover. In areas that are at annual risk of beet leafhopper infestations, application of a systematic insecticide may have some impact. Beet leafhopper populations are greatest in years with rainfall that promotes growth of its weed hosts in the foothills.

    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
      (Admire Pro) 7–10.5 fl oz 12 21
      COMMENTS: Can be used preventively as a systemic in areas with chronic infestations. Apply as a sidedress within 4 inches on either side of plants and incorporate to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Treat at first bloom up to 8 weeks before harvest. Apply sufficient water following application to move into the root zone of the plant. Can also be applied in drip or trickle irrigation water. Do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Venom) 1–4 oz 12 1
      COMMENTS: Apply in higher volume applications at 20 gallons/acre. Do not apply to cherry or grape tomatoes or to any variety with fruit less than 2 inches in diameter. Do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Actara) 2–3 oz 12 0
      COMMENTS: Do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Sevin XLR Plus) 0.66–1.25 lb 12 3
      COMMENTS: Will also control hornworm, fruitworm, and armyworm. Do not use if psyllids are in the field as carbamates tend to promote development of their populations. Do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
    ** See label for dilution rates.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment until harvest can take place. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of these two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest may take place.
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    Text Updated: 12/13
    Treatment Table Updated: 12/13