Planthoppers are sap-feeding insects similar to leafhoppers. The feathery rear end of this planthopper nymph is a waxy secretion that it produces. Wingless nymphs are restricted to moving up and down stems or hopping from plant to plant so a coating of cottony residue builds up on the plants that they inhabit.
Females insert their eggs into plant stems so at high infestation levels there may some physical injury. However, this appears to be rare and feeding by the nymphs usually is not serious. The main objection is their white calling card.
Handpicking, direct sprays with insecticidal soap, or knocking nymphs into soapy water may provide all of the control that is necessary. Insecticides labeled to control aphids or other sap feeders on landscape plantings also are control alternatives.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist