Lace Bugs

Description: Adult lace bugs are approximately one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch long and have a highly ornamented wing and a hood-like structure covering the head. The entire surface is covered with veins that look like lace. The wings also have brown and black dots.

Symptoms: They are piercing-sucking insects that feed on the undersides of leaves and kill surrounding cells as they feed. The result is yellow spots on the upper leaf surfaces. When feeding damage is severe the leaves appear gray and blotched or turn brown. As lace bugs feed they leave brown varnish-like droppings that spot the underside of the leaf. These are called tar spots or resin spots. Host plants for the lace bug are: azalea, rhododendron, sycamore, broad-leaved evergreens and many deciduous trees and shrubs. Most lace bugs move slowly when disturbed.

On deciduous plants, the adult lace bug will overwinter in protected areas, such as bark crevices and branch crotches. On evergreens they overwinter as eggs on the underside of leaves. They can also live in leaf litter on the ground. As spring begins they come out of hibernation and begin to lay eggs on the undersides of leaves, often along the midrib. They resemble small black smokestacks. The nymphs complete their life cycle quickly, allowing for several generations per season.

Action: Most lace bugs prefer bright, sunny areas. Locate lace bug susceptible plants in shady areas. Blast nymphs off the plants with a hard jet of water, they often die before reaching the leaf again. Encourage natural predators such as lacewings, mites and assassin bugs. There are several chemical controls available as well. When spraying to control lace bugs it is important to spray the undersides of leaves.

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