Neoaliturus haematoceps

Neoaliturus haematoceps (Mulsant and Rey)

{This species is sometimes known as Circulifer haematoceps (Mulsant and Rey), and may consist of more than one species} .

Systematic position: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Cicadoidea, Cicadellidae.

Geographic distribution: Central and southern Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Arabia and Iran.

Morphology: The adult body is yellow-green-grey, with variable darker markings, about 3.3-4.1 mm in length, the head is somewhat wider than the grey pronotum, with its anterior margin rounded. The wings are spotless. The nymph is greenish.

Host plants: Diverse species in the families Amaranthaceae {e.i. Kali tragus (L.) Scop.}, Apocynaceae, {e.i. Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don}, Brassicaceae {e.i. Mathiola incana (L.) W.T.Aiton} and many others. Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) and citrus are economically important hosts.

Life history: The pest feeds on various weeds that grow in or near cultivated plots or fields, moving onto citrus orchards as the weeds dry in autumn. Females place their eggs (50-70/female) into the leaf veins and petioles of host plants, on which the nymphs and adults develop. They are active from spring to autumn, overwinter as adults, usually raising 3 annual generations. They are most active shortly before sunset. The pest may be disseminated by infested plants.

Economic importance: The main damage caused by N. haematoceps is due to transmitting (vectoring) several diseases. These include sesame phyllody, a serious, debilitating disease that reduces sesame flowering and yield, and citrus stubborn disease (usually called “stubborn”). This disease seriously damages citrus, especially oranges, grapefruits and tangelos; up to 10% of the trees may be affected. Yield quantity and quality of infected trees is further reduced during hot and dry weather. Both diseases are caused by Mollicutes, that of citrus by Spiroplasma citri Seglio et al. Both mollicutes multiply in the vector’s body.

Management: Stubborn is difficult to control by the grafting of healthy material because it is vector-transmitted. Nor are insecticides usually effective, because the disease is transmitted rapidly when infected cicadas arrive in the field or the orchard. The presence of stubborn in many infested wild or cultivated plants adds to control problems.

Monitoring: Yellow plastic sticky traps are used for monitoring and sampling.

Horticultural methods: Removal of citrus trees that show stubborn symptoms and weeds that host the cicadas. No cultivars that are resistant or tolerant to sesame phyllody have so far been found.

Chemical control: Oraganophosphates reduced vector numbers and sesame phyllody incidence in Indian sesame plots.

Biological control: Several Geocoridae prey on N. haematoceps, at time in large numbers, but their effect on disease incidence is unknown.


Bové, J.M., Renaudin, J., Saillard, C., Foissac, X. and Garnier, M. 2003. Spiroplasma citri, a plant pathogenic mollicute: Relationships with its two hosts, the plant and the leafhopper vector. Annual Review of Phytopathology 41: 483–500.

Fos, A. (and 7 co-authors) 1986. The leafhopper Neoaliturus haematoceps is a vector of Spiroplasma citri in the Mediterranean area. Annales de l’Institut Pasteur Microbiologie 137A: 97-101.

Kersting, U. 1993. Symptomatology, etiology, and transmission of sesame phyllody in Turkey. Journal of Turkish Phytopathology 22: 47-54.

Kersting, U. and Baypinar, H. 1995. Seasonal and diurnal flight activity of Circulifer haematoceps (Hom., Cicadellidae), an important leafhopper vector in the Mediterranean area and the Near East. Journal pf Applied Entomology 119: 533-537.

Klein, M. and Raccah, B. 1992. Morphological characterization of two populations of Circulifer (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) from Israel. Israel Journal of Entomology 25–26: 97–103.

Omidi, M., Hosseini-Pour, A., Rahimian, H., Massumi, H. and Saillard, C. 2011. Identification of Circulifer haematoceps (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) as a vector of Spiroplasma citri in the Kerman province of Iran. Journal of Plant Pathology 93: 167-172.

Pathak, D.M., Patel, D.R. and Patel, R.R. 2013. Control of sesame phyllody caused by plo’s. International Journal of Forestry and Crop Improvement 4: 47-48.