Insect identification > Hemiptera > Tarnished plant bug

Tarnished plant bug

The tarnished plant bug (Lygus pratensis L.). - The tarnished plant bug is widely distributed, in both Europe and this country. It is about a quarter of an inch long and varies greatly in its coloration. The general color is brown, variegated with shades of yellowish and brownish and with black spots in some places.

This pest feeds on over 50 different kinds of plants which are of value to man. The adults attack apple, pear, peach and in fact all fruit-tree buds, destroying or at least seriously injuring them; small fruits are often stunted or "buttoned" by them; flower buds of such plants as the chrysanthemum, dahlia, peony and aster are punctured and destroyed or malformed.

Corn, wheat, oats and other grain and grass crops are also injured by this omnivorous feeder. With young peach trees in nurseries it causes the trouble called "stopback" by killing the terminal buds, and it is a carrier of the fire-blight of the pear, conveying the bacteria causing this ˘ b disease from infected to healthy trees. It is therefore a serious pest.

The insect passes the winter as the adult, and possibly as the nearly full­grown nymph also, in protected places and appears with the first warm spring days and attacks the buds of fruit trees and other plants. Its eggs are inserted in leaf veins and stems, flowers and similar places, and they hatch in about 10 days.

The nymphs feed on the juices of the plants and become adult in from 3 weeks to a month. There is, therefore, time for several generations in a season, though the actual number of these does not appear to have been worked out and probably varies somewhat according to the length of the season in different parts of the country.