Also known as leaf or grass bugs, plant bugs are some of the most common insect pests in North America. While some species of the pests are carnivorous, the majority feed on plants. Plant bugs get their name from the noticeable damage they cause to vegetation.
Appearance / Identification
Plant bugs have oval shaped bodies that usually range from 4 to 7 mm in length. They may be dark red, black, green, yellow, or orange in colour, and have relatively long legs and antennae.
These pests are found in every province in Canada and most of the United States and Mexico. They frequent areas with a high concentration of fruits and vegetables, and are likely to be found in gardens and orchards. Plant bugs overwinter in stream banks and rock piles, as well as under tree bark.
Most plant bugs eat flowers, weeds, and garden plants. They are particularly fond of beans, lettuce, peas, currants, and gooseberries. These bugs have also been known to eat azaleas, dogwoods, forsythia, and many other ornamental plants.
Life Cycle / Reproduction
Plant bugs typically deposit one egg at a time onto leaves and produce two or three generations per year. Nymphs emerge after 7 to 10 days and are typically around 1 mm in length. The life cycle is completed within a month. Peak breeding season is in the summer.
Problems Caused by Plant Bugs
These pests prevent healthy growth and cause discolouration by feeding on and spreading diseases to plants. Additionally, plant bugs can have a severe economic impact on farming and gardening.
Detection / Signs of Infestation
Damaged or discoloured leaves are some of the first signs of plant bug problems. While lesions will appear immediately following feeding, more serious plant damage will become noticeable within a few weeks. Heavy infestations may result in plants looking burned.
Weeding frequently and trimming overgrown vegetation will make gardens less favourable to plant bugs. Individuals can also look out for signs of destruction and remove plants that look sickly.
Control / Removal
Appropriately registered and labeled insecticides are available for controlling plant bug infestations. However, large infestations of indoor plant bugs are best handled by the trained pest professionals at Orkin Canada.