Blunt-Nosed Leafhopper: A Vector of Cranberry False Blossom Disease
The blunt-nosed leafhopper, Limotettix vaccinii (Van Duzee) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), is a sucking insect that feeds on plant sap. Although the insect may cause direct damage to plants, it is mainly a concern because it transmits a phytoplasma that causes cranberry false blossom disease. False blossom is characterized by a malformation of the flowers. The flowers stand erect and there is no production of fruit, with devastating effects for cranberry yield. Diseased plants produce their uprights close together, forming a witches’ broom, and turn reddish earlier in the fall than healthy plants. Cranberry false blossom threatened the entire cranberry industry in the early 1900’s. The disease was most problematic in New Jersey, where the cranberry industry was almost eliminated.