For Immediate Release: May 12, 2004 NR04-08
NEW PLANT PEST DISCOVERED IN LEEWARD OAHU
Honolulu – A new agricultural pest, a leafhopper called the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), Homalodisca coagulata, has been detected in Leeward Oahu. Although other leafhoppers are established in Hawaii, this is the first time the GWSS has been found here.
The GWSS feeds on a wide range of host plants. However, an added problem is the ability of the leafhopper to carry and spread the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which causes disease in various plants, including grape, citrus, coffee, nut trees, and other ornamental plants. It is not known at this time whether the bacterium is also present in Hawaii. Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) are working together to collect and send GWSS samples for testing in California to help determine if the bacterium also arrived with the insects. It is not known how the insect may have been transported to Hawaii.
GWSS is native to the southeastern U.S. and was detected in Southern California in 1989. It is a serious threat to the California grape and wine industries because it is a vector that transmits the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease – a plant disease deadly to many varieties of grapes.
The insect measures just under one-half inch in length and is mostly brown-colored, with ivory and black markings on the abdomen. It has large smoky-brown wings with red markings. The face and legs are yellow-orange in color. Nymphs are wingless and gray. It feeds on the stems of plants and secretes a white residue on leaves.
Early last week, a resident of Waiau dropped off an unidentified insect to a Cooperative Extension Service Office, which is part of CTAHR. An extension agent then brought the insect to HDOA, which identified it as the GWSS. The following day, HDOA conducted a survey and found the GWSS in the Waiau/Waimalu area.
If residents spot possible GWSS leafhoppers, they are asked to call HDOA at 973-9522 or bring a sample of the insect to either of the following HDOA offices:
Plant Industry Division
1428 S. King Street, near the corner of Keeaumoku and
S. King Streets
Plant Quarantine Branch
1849 Auiki Street, near Sand Island