The European lantern fly Dictyophara europaea (Linnaeus, 1767), is a polyphagous dictyopharid planthopper of Auchenorrhyncha commonly found throughout the Palaearctic. Despite abundant data on its distribution range and reports on its role in the epidemiology of plant-pathogenic phytoplasmas (Flavescence dorée, FD-C), literature regarding the biology and host plants of this species is scarce. Therefore, the aims of our study were to investigate the seasonal occurrence, host plant associations, oviposition behaviour and immature stages of this widespread planthopper of economic importance. We performed a 3-year field study to observe the spatio-temporal distribution and feeding sources of D. europaea. The insects's reproductive strategy, nymphal molting and behaviour were observed under semi-field cage conditions. Measurement of the nymphal vertex length was used to determine the number of instars, and the combination of these data with body length, number of pronotal rows of sensory pits and body colour pattern enabled the discrimination of each instar. We provide data showing that D. europaea has five instars with one generation per year and that it overwinters in the egg stage. Furthermore, our study confirmed highly polyphagous feeding nature of D. europaea, for all instars and adults, as well as adult horizontal movement during the vegetation growing season to the temporarily preferred feeding plants where they aggregate during dry season. We found D. europaea adult aggregation in late summer on Clematis vitalba L. (Ranunculaceae), a reservoir plant of FD-C phytoplasma strain; however, this appears to be a consequence of forced migration due to drying of herbaceous vegetation rather than to a high preference of C. vitalba as a feeding plant. Detailed oviposition behaviour and a summary of the key discriminatory characteristics of the five instars are provided. Emphasis is placed on the economic importance of D. europaea because of its involvement in epidemiological cycles of phytoplasma-induced plant diseases.