Insect identification > Homoptera > Pear psylla

Pear psylla

The pear psylla (Psyllia pyricola Foerst.). - The pear psylla is a European pear pest which seems to have reached the U.S. about 1832 and is now present nearly everywhere in the Eastern United States where pears are grown. When it is abundant it is very injurious, seriously checking the growth of the tree, so that many of the leaves turn yellow and drop off, as does much of the young fruit, while the entire vitality of the tree is reduced and it makes little or no growth.

The adult is about a tenth of an inch long, the body black with reddish markings, and long antennae are present. Except for this last feature it greatly resembles a tiny cicada. The adults pass the winter hiding in crevices of the bark or similarly protected places and in spring lay their eggs on the twigs. The eggs hatch in 2 to 3 weeks according to the temperature.

The nymphs suck the sap from the axils of the leaves and fruit stems and if abundant gather around the bases of these and spread to the under surface of the leaves themselves. They move about but little and secrete large amounts of honeydew, sometimes so much, when they are very numerous, as to cover the leaves and branches.

They are broadly oval, flat creatures, yellowish at first but blackish with reddish marks later and with bright-red eyes. They become adult in about a month and lay their eggs, this time on the underside of the leaves or on the leaf petioles. These eggs hatch in a week to 10 days and adults are produced in about a month. There are three or four generations a year in New England and more in the South.