Abstract The potato leafhopper (PLH) ( Empoasca fabae (Harris)) is a migratory insect species which is known to overwinter in the southernmost portions of the United States from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle. Extensive PLH sampling across the Lower Peninsula of Michigan during 1989 indicated a major influx of this insect pest between 28 May and 3 June. Subsequent meteorological analysis showed ideal long-range transport conditions from the PLH source region into Michigan during this period, with the nocturnal jet in evidence around the 900 mbar level. Trajectory analysis at the 850, 900 and 950 mbar pressure levels indicated that the migration could have occurred in 24–36 h of continuous flight or in two to three successive night-only flights. Sufficiently warm flight temperatures and lack of major precipitation along all but the terminal portions of the trajectories were also in evidence. Heavy precipitation over the Lower Peninsula, cooler temperatures and/or depletion of energy supplies were probable causes for PLH flight termination. Potato leafhopper sampling was continued during the 1990 season. Based on the literature and the 1989 case study, the following simple criteria were used in conjunction with the latest synoptic forecast maps to manually predict possible dates for PLH arrival in Lower Michigan: (1) forecasted windflow (in the boundary layer or at 850 mbar) from the PLH overwintering region to Lower Michigan; (2) forecasted 850 mbar temperatures of 10°C or higher along the flight path. These criteria successfully predicted the first three distinct arrival episodes of 1990 (late April through to mid-May) and possibly the sharp increases in PLH density occurring mid-May through to early June.