plant bug is a common pest on numerous vegetable, fruit and flower
crops, as well as a number of weeds. It is found throughout the
United States, and attacks over 500 commercial crops. Vegetable
hosts include bean, beet, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, celery, cucumber,
potato, turnip and dill; fruits include apple, peach, pear, strawberry
and most other deciduous and small fruits. It also attacks many
flowers including dahlia, aster, calendula, chrysanthemum, cosmos,
gladiolus, poppy, salvia, daisy, sunflower, verbena, zinnia and
plant bug is a true bug (order: Hemiptera), with the crossed wings
and piercing-sucking mouthparts characteristic of this order of
insects. The piercing-sucking mouthparts are inserted into the plant
tissues, concurrently introducing a toxic saliva into the plant
and feeding. This pest causes various types of injury, including
deformed leaves (as in beets and chard) and scarred, discolored
stems or leaf petioles. In a number of fruits, the buds of the developing
fruit are dwarfed and pitted. The tops of dill plants are often
killed and blackened above the feeding wound.
plant bug is a small, flattened bug, about 6 mm (1/4 inch) long,
generally brown in color, and mottled with splotches of white, yellow,
reddish-brown and black. Tarnished plant bugs develop through five
nymphal stages. The nymphs are very small and greenish-yellow, marked
dorsally with four black dots on the thorax and one on the abdomen.
Like the adults, the nymphs have piercing-sucking mouth parts and
feed on plant tissues. The wings of the adults have a hard wing
cover similar to that of a beetle with a smoky-brown membranous
tip. The adults will fly readily when disturbed.
Tarnished plant bug adult
The adult bugs
hibernate among weeds, leaves and bark through the winter. They
emerge early in the spring and fly to host plants to feed, later
migrating to other plants to lay eggs on the leaves or flowers.
The life cycle is completed in approximately three to four weeks,
and there are from three to five generations per season. By midsummer
there may be great numbers of tarnished plant bugs present, but
they are well camouflaged and often go unnoticed.
bugs can be difficult to control. Cultural control practices include
the removal of weeds and the elimination of trash and other debris
which could provide overwintering sites. Mowing grass and weeds
around gardens may also help to reduce breeding sites. Verify that
insecticides are labeled for use on the tarnished plant bug and
follow label directions carefully.
from G.R. Nielsen, University of Vermont Extension, 1999