Common Names: Tarnish Bug, Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus Bug
Scientific Name: Order Heteroptera, family Miridae, Lygus linolaris
Identification: Adults are quick-moving, oval-shaped, light green to brown bugs. Forewings are black-tipped yellow triangles. Wings slope downward at the end. Nymphs are yellow-green and have five black dots. Eggs are long and curved.
Biology and life cycle: Adults emerge from debris in early spring to feed on fruit tree buds, then move to garden plants to lay eggs in stems and leaves. Eggs hatch in about ten days. Nymphs feed three to four weeks, then molt. Two to five generations a year.
Habitat: Flowers, fruit trees, vegetables, and weeds.
Feeding Habits: Adults and nymphs suck sap from leaves, buds, and fruit, causing silvery brown spots, stunted growth, and dieback. Nymphs are the most damaging. Fruit becomes "cat-faced." Pine tree seedlings are often damaged by this insect.
Economic Importance: Damage to several ornamental and food crops.
Natural Control: Bigeyed bugs, damsel bugs, and minute pirate bugs. Birds and lizards. Plant flowering plants and encourage biodiversity.
Organic Control: Use sprays of garlic oil, or kaolin clay and plant oil products on large or serious infestations. Cover plants with floating row covers.
Insight: Covering garden plants in the spring with floating row cover will help prevent these and other pests. The establishment of beneficial insect populations is the best long-term control.