Passionvine hoppers suck the sap of a wide range of plants – as well as passion fruit vines they are often found on citrus, berry fruits and beans. They congregate on growing tips, stems and the underside of leaves. Effected plants are weakened and foliage becomes marked with pale whitish-green spots. Plants that are colonized by often become infected with a black sooty mould that grows on a sticky honeydew solution excreted by the passionvine hoppers. Ants often ‘farm’ passionvine hoppers, guarding them from attack by other insects and feeding off this sweet solution.
Passionvine hoppers hatch out of eggs into nymphs, or ‘fluffy bums’, in early spring, these then mature into adults by mid summer. Adult females lay eggs in autumn along the inside of narrow splits in plant and leaf stems where they remain through winter before hatching in the spring. Inside these slender splits you will see a row of fibrous chevron shapes that house the eggs.
The best time to focus your attention on passionvine hoppers is during winter. Scour your plants – especially the tendrils of passionfruit vines – for the rows of raised eggs. These are easy to see because each egg has a tuft of white fibre that sticks up. Often females will make long incisions on plant stems and lay their eggs in a row inside them. Cut all egg clusters from plants and burn them. Don’t compost of throw them in the bushes as they’ll still hatch in spring.
Spraying passionvine hoppers with Neem oil is pretty hit-and-miss at the best of times. As soon as you spray, they jump away.