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Tomato psyllid

Tomato psyllids (Paratrioza cockerelli), also known as potato psyllids, have an extensive range of hosts, and have a preference for solanaceous plants. They used to be an occasional problem in North and Central America. In recent years, it has become a problem in many greenhouse tomato and sweet pepper crops.

Description and life cycle

Adult tomato psyllids are about 2-3 mm (0.08-0.12 inch) long and look like small cicadas. They are black with white markings on the thorax, clear wings that rest rooflike over the body and white lines between the abdomen segments. When disturbed, the psyllids jump quite readily.
The tiny football-shaped eggs are laid on stalks in the upper plant canopy and on the underside of the leaf along the edge. The eggs are initially white, but turn into pink in a few hours after they are laid.
The scale-like nymphs hatch in 1-2 weeks and feed most often on the underside of leaves. They are flat, oval and yellowish green with red eyes and a fringe of short spines around the edge. Older nymphs have clear wing primordials. The nymphs go through five stages in 2-3 weeks. When disturbed, the nymphs move quite easily.


Damage is caused by a toxin that the nymphs produce while feeding on the leaf. The toxin causes a plant response known as “psyllid yellows”. Plant yellowing, stunting and curling of leaves are the most common symptoms. But it can also cause death in transplants, and either no fruit production or overproduction of small fruits in larger plants. Just a few nymphs per plant is sufficient to cause psyllid yellows.  When the nymphs are removed, the progression of the disease will stop.
While feeding, psyllid nymphs also excrete "psyllid sugar", which resembles granulated sugar. These small, waxy granulates may cover leaves during severe psyllid infestations.

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