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Stunting is most serious in crops such as lucerne and tarragon in which populations can exceed 300/m² (Thompson, 1973; Wightman and Whitford, 1984). Even rather low population levels <1 per stem) can affect plant height (Smith and Ellis, 1983), fruit yields (Zajac and Wilson, 1984) and seed production (Luczak, 1978).
In addition to stunting due to feeding, meadow spittlebugs have been implicated in transmission of various xylem-transmitted diseases including Pierce's disease of grapevines (DeLong and Severin, 1950) which is identical with alfalfa dwarf (Hewitt and Houston, 1941), Rubus stunt (Jenser et al., 1981), tomato stolbur (Vlasov et al., 1992) and various diseases of Prunus including peach yellows (Schuster, 1942), 'gummosis of peach' (Emeljanov, 1972), almond leaf scorch (Purcell, 1980), and possibly also 'Moliere's decline' in cherries and plums (Bernhard et al., 1977). Symptoms vary depending on the crop and disease.
Systemic insecticides are the only chemicals effective against spittlebugs.
The abundance and ubiquity of this insect, and its ability to feed on most agricultural plants, cause it to be classified as a serious insect pest (Lodos and Kalkandelen, 1981) as well as a threat to the integrity of endangered ecosystems. The spittlebug is also an effective disease agent because of transovarial transmission of phytoplasmas, which has been observed to be as high as 13% of a population (Genite and Radzyavichus, 1983).