Sharpshooters - Ready, Aim, Fire!
Bug: Broad-headed Sharpshooter
Scientific name: Oncometopia orbona
Broad-headed Sharpshooter Photos by: Aaron Shultz, Autumn Shultz and Thomas Shahan
Sharpshooters are large leafhopper bugs that can shoot out a stream of waste liquid when threatened. This distracts predators and other threats, giving the sharpshooter a chance to get away.
Feeding on a variety of different plants, nymphs and adults digest a huge volume of plant sap, filtering out nutrients and shooting water and carbohydrates away.
No, sharpshooters aren't considered beneficials because they feed on plants. Most sharpshooters won't do significant damage, but because they pierce with their mouthparts, the chances are higher for plant viruses and disease to spread. The Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (Homalodisca_vitripennis) is particularly dangerous for Asparagus, Grape, Crepe myrtle, Sunflower, Blueberries, Bougainvillea, and Peppers. So read on to learn to identify that species. (Pictured above for reference!)
Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Photos by: Judy Gallagher (first two) and Reyes Garcia III, USDA Agricultural Research Service (third photo)
So are Broad-headed Sharpshooters ok to leave in the garden?
We will definitely watch out for the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter in the Murfreesboro Community Garden. The way to identify this specific species is the red/dark brown venation on their wings. And since a healthy variety of beneficial insects (wasps, praying mantis, assassin bugs and lacewings) is the most effective way to control sharpshooters, we'll keep an eye on the population.
Sharpshooters are also a food source for birds, lizards, ladybugs, spiders, assassin bugs, flies, and some species of wasp.
For more amazing photos: https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/10381