Scentless Plant Bug – Harmostes species

Scentless Plant Bug – Harmostes species
Family: Rhopalidae – Scentless plant bugs
Possibly Harmostes reflexulus
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Scentless Plant Bug - Harmostes species
The scentless plant bugs (36 north American species) is a small family of predominantly weedy-xeric ground dwellers. They lack a metathoracic scent gland. The box elder bug is a member of this family.

The tarnished plant bug and fourlined plant bug are common sucking pests that attack a variety of bedding and perennial plants. The daisy and mint families are especially susceptible to attack. Both bugs are quick to fly and the nymphs quickly run to the under surface of leaves when approached. They damage plants by causing small (1/16 inch), round, sunken spots on the leaves. These spots occur when the leaf bugs kill the leaf tissues during feeding. When these spots are numerous, the entire leaf may curl and wither. The tarnished plant bug has a light-green nymph and the adult has mottled brown colors. The fourlined plant bug has a bright red-orange nymph and the adults are lime green with four black stripes.

Damage to plants usually occurs in the late-spring and early-summer when the nymphs are active. If this activity is several weeks before flower bud initiation, no damage will be evident at the time of flowering. However, early flowering plants can be severely damaged. These are the plants that need protection. Since the plant bug nymphs cause most of the damage, control of this stage is suggested. Inspect plants early and try to detect the first signs of the sucking damage. Small numbers of nymphs can be dislodged from the plants into a container of soapy water. Higher populations are best controlled with a registered pesticide or insecticidal soap.

Scentless Plant Bug

Plant bugs feed on roots of many hosts including trees, shrubs, vines, weeds and many cultivated crops. They may also feed on the stems and foliage when seed are not present. Both nymph and adult stink bugs pierce plants with their needle-like mouthparts and suck sap from roots, buds, blossoms and seeds. The degree of damage depends on the developmental stage of the plant when it is attacked. Immature fruit and pods become deformed as they develop. Seeds are often flattened and shriveled.

The tarnished plant bug is one of the most serious pests of small fruits and vegetables in New England. No truly effective or reliable management options currently exist. Growers routinely make 3-5 applications of insecticides each year to control this insect. The cost is $200-$500/acre. Considering the narrow profit margin for today's farmers, these costs are significant. The research being conducted at the Entomology Research Laboratory represents the first step in developing insect-killing fungi for management of TPB.

Order Hemiptera: True Bugs number almost 5,000 species in North America, and 40,000 worldwide. They have mouthparts formed into a beak, adapted for sucking plant juices or the liquefied insides of their animal prey.
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha – Cicadas & Planthoppers
Suborder Sternorrhyncha – Aphids, scales, mealybugs, jumping plant lice