Eggplant Lace Bug
Gargaphia solani Heidemann, Tingidae, HEMIPTERA


DESCRIPTION

Adult - The prothorax (area behind the head) of this gray and light brown bug has a hood-like projection which extends out over the body and comes to a point over the wings. The bug has a dark head, pale yellow legs, and two pairs of lace-like wings which are black at the base. The body appears flattened and is about 4 mm long and 2 mm wide.

Egg - The 0.4-mm-long, oval-elongate egg appears almost bottle-shaped. Greenish at the base and brown toward the tip, the egg has a crater-like depression in one end with a white, lace-like border. All eggs in each roughly circular cluster are deposited on end and lean in different directions.

Nymph - About 2 to 3 mm long, the mature nymph is yellow with a dark spot at the tip of the abdomen. The boy is covered with spines.


BIOLOGY

Distribution - Eggplant lace bugs are most common from Maryland, Missouri, and Oklahoma southward. They occur west into New Mexico and Arizona and have also been reported in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and British Columbia.

Host Plants - The eggplant lace bug has a narrow host range. Its food plants include eggplant, tomato, potato, sunflower, sage, cotton, and horsenettle.

Damage - Circular discolored areas about the size of a quarter are the first noticeable symptoms of lace bug damage. The remains of an egg mass and a group of nymphs typically are found on the underside of each discolored spot. Lace bugs gradually move outward until the whole leaf yellows and dries out. Feeding in groups, they move from leaf to leaf and eventually to new plants. A severe lace bug infestation may kill whole plants or weaken them to the point that fruit fails to develop.

Life History - Eggplant lace bugs overwinter as adults within shriveled leaves or among other plant debris. They emerge and lay eggs in mid- to late May. Each female spends 4 to 5 days depositing 100 to 200 eggs in a roughly circular mass on the underside of a leaf. The female guards her eggs against predators. When the eggs hatch about 6 days later, the female continues to guard her offspring. Nymphs feed and move as a colony, guided by the adult female. Molting every other day, nymphs develop through five instars and become adults in about 10 days. Several days may elapse before adults of the new generation mate and deposit more eggs. Approximately 6 annual generations occur on eggplant followed by one or two additional generations on horsenettle.


CONTROL

Eggplant lace bugs are preyed upon by lady beetle larvae and adults, spiders, and shield-shaped soldier bugs. If lace bugs do become a problem, effective insecticides are available. For up-to-date recommendations, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual.

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