Facts, Identification & Control
What Do They Look Like?
- Size: Adult lace bugs are very small, only about 1/8″ long and 1/16″ wide.
- Body Shape & Color: Their body shape is flat, either black or brown
- Wings: The appearance of the wings is what gives this group of insects their common name. They possess wings that have a lace-like appearance extending all the way up to the rear part of their head. The lace bug’s nymph stage does not have the lacey wings.
- Eggs: Lace bug eggs are very small and usually laid on the underside of the host plant’s leaves.
Where Do They Live?
More than 150 species of lace bugs have been identified in North America.
How Did I Get Lace Bugs?
There are two main types of lace bugs, those that attack deciduous trees and those that attack shrubs and smaller plants. Identifying the various species of lace bugs is made somewhat easier by their common name, which usually includes the host plant they infest. For example, the azalea lace bug is an important pest of – you guessed it – azaleas, while the oak lace bug is a pest of oak trees.
Common Infestation Targets
These specific plants in sunny locations attract lace bugs to yards:
- Mountain laurel
How Serious Are Lace Bugs?
One problem associated with lace bug infestations is they usually go unnoticed until the plants show signs of serious damage.
How They Damage Plants
Lace bug damage only occurs on plants. The pests mostly affect the appearance of ornamental plantings. This is because their piercing mouthparts and the feeding process results in a bleaching effect of the leaves, decreased plant health, and the early dropping of leaves. Over time, lace bug infestations result in dead foliage.
While these pests can cause costly damage to gardens, shrubs, and ornamental trees, they pose no threat of disease transmission to people. In addition, lace bugs rarely try to come indoors, but sometimes may be found inside if they’ve originated from an infested plant into the home.
How Do I Get Rid of Lace Bugs?
What Orkin Does
If lace bugs become a problem on your trees or shrubs, the best advice is to contact your pest management professional who can positively identify the pest and provide recommendations and advice for how best to deal with the problem.
Do not use insecticides unless your pest management professional either recommends it or does the applications.
Some effective, proactive measures that the homeowner can follow are:
- Pick the right plants – Select and plant tree or shrub species or hybrids that are lace bug resistant.
- Plant shrubs in the least stressful locations – For example, azaleas planted in hot, full sun conditions experience more damage from azalea lace bugs than those planted in partial shade conditions.
- Water your plants – Maintain the health and vigor of trees and shrubs, keeping them well supplied with nutrients and water.
- Use a garden hose – In lieu of spraying chemicals, use a high velocity stream of water from your garden hose to knock off the lace bugs from your plants. The best time to do this is early spring when the lace bugs are in the nymph stage.
- Inspect your plants – Continue to frequently inspect plants to determine whether lace bugs have infested or reinvested your trees or shrubs.
- Be careful with mulch – Do not use lace bug host plant leaves as mulch since the dropped leaves may contain lace bug adults or eggs.