Sunday, June 7, 2009

Four-Lined Plant Bug

This is the FOUR-LINED PLANT BUG (Poecilocapsus lineatus). They are common throughout Eastern United States, and portions of Southeastern Canada. The young red and navy blue colored nymph gives no hint at what it will look like as an adult. The nymph was photographed about a month ago in Fillmore Missouri on stinging nettle. The adult image was photographed last night in Savannah on wild phlox. Their usual habitat is open fields, gardens and meadow, and also around homes. The one on phlox was photographed in one of my flower beds. They are approximately 1/4 inch as adults. The nymph pictured here was barely 1/16th of an inch long. They are a very pretty bug belonging to the order of true bugs (hemiptera). There are several host plants for this species, and their plants of preference are in the mint family and include wild mint, catnip, peppermint, spearmint, hyssop, oregano, but in the wild they will be also be found on sumac, thistle, dandelion, loosestrife,burdock and tansy. In your garden look for them on ginger, cucumber,potato, radish, squash, pea, raspberry, currant. They can also be found on a variety of other flowers including carnation, geranium, chrysanthemum, snapdragon, phlox.

They will overwinter as eggs in the stems of host plants. In the spring they will emerge and begin feeding. They will go through 5 instars before becoming adults. Look for them in June which is typically when the adults appear. Females will deposit their eggs in stems and subsequently die by the end of August. If infestations of these bugs are heavy they are capable of causing significant damage. They are unique in their coloration. The adults are bright yellow with four black stripes down their back. At the end of the wing there are two black dots. Their head is reddish with black antennae.

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