Friday, December 10, 2010

Plant Bugs

This pretty, yet tiny insect is a plant bug called the Two-spotted grass bug (Stenotus binotatus). They are found throughout North America in gardens, grassy areas, and along roadsides. The nymphs feed on a wide variety of grasses, especially Timothy grass. It is not reported if the adults eat. This preference for Timothy grass has also earned them another common name of Timothy plant bug. These bugs are tiny at approximately 1/8 of an inch. They are highly variable in coloration and will range from yellowish to greenish. There are two black spots on the pronotum, from whence they get their common name.

This thinly shaped plant bug is the scentless plant bug (Harmostes refluxulus). These bugs are also found throughout North America, especially in the eastern portion of the the United States. They may reach lengths up to 1/2 inch, and are light green with reddish colored markings. As adults they overwinter until spring. Mating takes place in the spring and the female will lay eggs on various plants. The young feed on the plants, and adults feed on nectar, especially from flowers like asters. The genus name Harmostes has its roots in Greek history and is a form of the word Harmony.

This beautiful lime green plant bug is the spotted green plant bug (Ilnacora staqlii). They are found in scattered populations throughout the Eastern United States in grassy ditches, weedy areas and along roadsides. Both adults and nymphs feed on the juices of various plants. These bugs are average sized at 3/8 of an inch and are uniformly light lime green with black speckling on the wings as well as two widely spaced black spots on either side of the pronotum. Occasionally these bugs will come to porch lights or other outdoor lights at night.

This artfully marked insect is the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolarus). They can be found throughout most of the United States, Southern Canada and much of Mexico. They are small at 1/8-1/4 of an inch. The head is yellowish-tan, the pronotum is reddish-brown. The wings are patterned with various shades of tan, brown, yellow and reddish-brown. In many individuals there is a "heart" shape behind the head. The specimens that first appear in the spring will be darker, as the season progresses the specimens will be lighter in color. Adults overwinter in leaf litter or other secluded areas until spring. Once spring arrives they will be very active and seek out nursery stock to feed on, such as fruit trees,ornamental plants. They will also feed on soybeans, cotton, clover, in fact there are 380 reported plants that they will feed on. According to the USDA these are the most common plant bug in the United States and are also classified as one of the most dangerous. These bugs also transmit various plant diseases. Look for them in gardens, grassy roadsides, open fields, meadows, orchards and sometimes woodsy understories.

This black and yellow bug is the four-line plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus). They are common throughout the Eastern United States and parts of Southern Canada. These are small bugs at 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. They are almost always yellowish in color with black markings and an orange head. Occasionally there will be orangish colored specimens. The nymphs are red with a bluish-black saddle (pictured above).The female will lay eggs in the stems of plants, these eggs hatch the following spring. By June they will be adult size and will be seen near gardens, meadows, prairies and agricultural areas. Mating takes place at this time, and the females will lay eggs until August. By the end of August or the first of September the adults will have perished.  These bugs can cause significant damage to plants if they occur in large numbers. There are over 250 plants they are reported to feed on; a few of these are burdock, pea, potato, currant, spinach, raspberry, squash, radish, ginger, alfalfa, catnip, snapdragon, geranium, phlox and carnation.

All plant bugs possess piercing sucking mouthparts. These beak-like mouths will jab into the plant tissue and inject the plant with an enzyme that breaks down plant tissue and turns it to liquid. The bug can then slurp up the plant juices like a plant-slurpee. Plant bugs are in the order Hemiptera, which are the true bugs, also included in this order are assassin bugs, cicadas and leafhoppers.


  1. Very tiny friends. It made me think of scooping into the tree canopy with a net and putting the nets in a freezer to view the next day under a scope.

  2. I've never tried that, maybe I should do that sometime. I find plant bugs all over the place. Especially near our garden

  3. I haven't commented in so long. Please know that I stop by often to catch up on the posts I've missed. I do love it here.

  4. I'm so glad you are still stopping by and finding useful info here. I know what you mean about not commenting though. I read through a lot of my friends blogs and find that I don't always have time to leave a comment either, but I still enjoy them very much. I hope you have a blessed and Happy New year