Clemson University Arthropod Collection

Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Reuter, 1876)Dorsal view of adult
Cotton Fleahopper
HEMIPTERA: Heteroptera: Miridae






Extended legs of nymphDescription: Adult specimens in the CUAC pinned collection range from 3.12 to 3.35 mm in length and 1.19 to 1.38 mm in width. They are a faded pale yellow to beige color. There are dark spots on the first, second and third segments of the antennae. There are reddish brown spots on the femur and dark spots with spines on the tibia. Indicative of the Miridae is the presence on the hemelytra of a cuneus and one or two closed cells at the base of the membrane. There is a black triangular spot at the apex of the cuneus along the margin of the membrane. The veins of the cells are white. Compound eyes are present but ocelli are lacking. Antennae and beak are 4-segmented. The immatures, using  their long legs, hop or jump when disturbed, hence the common name, cotton fleahopper (Reinhard 1926, Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).

4-segmented beak and compound eyes of adultLife Cycle: The overwintering stage is the egg, which is inserted in stems and leaves of herbaceous plants (Reinhard 1926, Eddy 1927, Fletcher 1940). The whitish, slightly curved eggs are approximately 0.90 mm in length. Diapause typically occurs from December to March, but may begin as early as September (Reinhard 1926, Breene et al. 1989). In southern Texas in March, the northward migration of adults of the cotton fleahopper from Mexico may occur, as well as the hatching of overwintered eggs (Schuster et al. 1969). At 87.5º F eggs take an average of 7.96 days to hatch (Reinhard 1926). Eclosion typically occurs at night (Breene et al. 1989). Nymphs molt five times taking an average of 11.05 days at 87.5º F to reach adulthood. Oviposition begins 3-4 days after adulthood is reached. Adults live an average of 20 days. In Texas there may be 7-8 overlapping generations (Reinhard 1926).

Hemelytra with cuneus and closed cellsLocations: Pseudatomoscelis seriatus has been recorded from the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, KS, LA, MD, MN, MS, MO, NJ, NM, NB, OK, SC, TX and UT. It is also known from Mexico and parts of Canada (Henry and Froeschner 1988, Frisbie et al. 1989). Specimens in the CUAC are from Barnwell and Pickens Counties in SC.


Dates of Collections: In SC collections were made in the months May through September.

Plant Hosts: There are at least 169 species of plants in 35 families that serve as host for the cotton fleahopper (Esquivel and Esquivel 2009). It is considered a major pest of cotton especially in Texas, where damage by it was first noted in 1919 (Reinhard 1926, Hixson 1940). In SC, extensive injury in cotton was first noted in 1924 (Eddy 1927, Hixson 1940). Other cultivated plants that are hosts include alfalfa, beans, clovers, okra, onion, pineapple, potato, soybean, sunflower and watermelon (Reinhard 1926, Eddy 1927, Schuster et al. 1969, Bell 2007, Esquivel and Esquivel 2009). In Texas preferred wild host plants are woolly croton (Croton capitatus Michx.), spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata L.), cutleaf evening primrose (Oenothera laciniata Hill) and Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa Nutt.) (Reinhard 1926, Fletcher 1940, Schuster et al. 1969, Breene et al. 1989, Esquivel and Esquivel 2009). In SC, important wild host plants are Croton glandulosus L., Oenothera biennis L., and O. laciniata (Eddy 1927). The general strategy of the cotton fleahopper is to develop on flowering wild host plants in the early part of the year and later move to cotton plants as they begin to square (form flower buds) and the wild host plants begin to dry up. As cotton plants mature, movement back to flowering wild host plants occurs (Reinhard 1926, Fletcher 1940, Schuster 1969, Gaylor and Sterling 1976, Breene 1989, Frisbie et al. 1989, Esquivel and Esquivel 2009). In the fall in SC the cotton fleahopper is found in or on flowers of asters, goldenrod, Polygonum and ragweed. Eggs are found in cotton and croton (Eddy 1927).  In Texas, flowering spotted beebalm and wooly croton are preferred plants for oviposition (Holtzer and Sterling 1980).

4-segmented beak of adultOther Food Sources: Once cotton begins to bloom cotton fleahopper damage declines. Controls are not recommended at that time as the cotton fleahopper feeds on the eggs of the cotton bollworm (Heliothis virescens (Fabricius)) (McDaniel and Sterling 1982, Frisbie et al. 1989).

Feeding Injury: Injury to cotton by the cotton fleahopper includes abscission of the young squares; suppression of fruiting branches; an increased number of internodes; swellings and lesions on all parts of the stem, petioles, midribs and minor veins of leaves; tattered foliage; and stunted or tall and spindly plants (Eddy 1927, Painter 1930, Martin et al. 1987, Frisbie et al. 1989). The most significant injury is the selective feeding of the small squares which damages the pollen grains or ovules. Ethylene stress is also induced causing the abscission of the squares. Ethylene stress may be the result of enzymes or microorganisms in the salivary gland, or both. The cotton fleahopper is known to carry both pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms. Potential plant pathogens isolated from preparations of the whole body and the salivary glands of the cotton fleahopper are from the fungal genera Penicillium, Fusarium, and Cladosprium and the bacterial genera Pantoea, Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas (Martin et al 1987, Bell et al 2007). Glabrous cottons are infested less with the cotton fleahopper than hirsute cottons, but experience greater feeding injury (Walker et al. 1974, Frisbie et al. 1989).


Bell, A A, E G Medrano, J D Lopez and R K Luff. 2007. Transmission and importance of Pantoea ananatis during feeding on cotton buds (Gossypium hirsutum L.) by cotton fleahopper (Pseudatomoscelis seriatus Reuter). Proceedings, The World Cotton Research Conference-4. Available from: (Accessed 24 July 2011).

Eddy, C O. 1927. The cotton flea hopper. South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 235:1-21.

Esquivel, J F and S V Esquivel. 2009. Identification of cotton fleahopper (Hemiptera: Miridae) host plants in Central Texas and compendium of reported hosts in the US. Environmental Entomology 38:766-780. Available from: (Accessed 24 July 2011).

Fletcher, R K. 1940. Certain host plants of the cotton flea hopper. Journal of Economic Entomology 33:456-462.

Frisbie, R E, K M El-Zik and L T Wilson, eds. 1989. Integrated pest management systems and cotton production. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York 437 pp.

Gaylor, M J and W L Sterling. 1976. Development, survival, and fecundity of the cotton fleahopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Reuter), on several host plants. Environmental Entomology 5:55-58.

Henry, T J and R C Froeschner, eds. 1988. Catalog of the Heteroptera, or true bugs, of Canada and the Continental United States. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 958 pp.

Hixson, E. 1940. The host relation of the cotton flea hopper (Psallus seriatus Reuter). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Available from: (Accessed 7 August 2011).

Holtzer, T O and W L Sterling. 1980. Ovipositional preferences of the cotton fleahopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus, and distribution of eggs among host plant species. Environmental Entomology 9:236-240.

Martin, W R, M P Grisham, C M Kenerley, W L Sterling and P W Morgan. 1987. Microorganisms associated with cotton fleahopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Heteroptera: Miridae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 80:251-255.

McDaniel, S G and W L Sterling. 1982. Predation of Heliothis virescens (F.) eggs on cotton in East Texas. Environmental Entomology 11:60-66.

Painter, R H. 1930. A study of the cotton flea hopper, Psallus seriatus Reut. with especial reference to its effect on cotton plant tissues. Journal of Agricultural Research 40:485-516.

Reinhard, H J. 1926. The cotton flea hopper. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 339:1-39.

Schuster, M F, C A Richard, J C Boling and H M Graham. 1969. Host plants of the cotton fleahopper in the Rio Grande Valley: phenology of hibernating quarters. Journal of Economic Entomology 62:1126-1129.

Triplehorn, C A and N F Johnson. 2005. Borror and Delong’s introduction to the study of insects. Thomson Brooks/Cole. USA. 864pp.

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