Adult lace bugs are about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long with an elaborately
sculptured dorsal (upper) surface. The expanded surfaces of their thorax and
forewings have numerous, semitransparent cells that give the body a lacelike appearance,
hence the name "lace bugs." The wingless nymphs are smaller, oval,
and usually dark colored with spines. Adults and nymphs occur together in
groups on the underside of leaves.
Lace bug adults and
nymphs feed on the underside of leaves by sucking fluids from plants`photosynthetic tissues. This causes pale stippling and
bleaching that can become very obvious on the upper leaf surface by mid to late
summer. Adults and nymphs also foul leaves with specks of dark, varnishlike excrement; and this excrement
sometimes drips onto pavement and other surfaces beneath infested plants.
Certain other true bugs and thrips also produce leaf stippling and dark
excrement. Mites also stipple leaves. Mite infestations usually can be distinguished
by the absence of dark excrement and sometimes by the presence of mite cast
skins and fine silken webbing. Examine the lower leaf
surface, using a magnifying lens if necessary, to identify what type of pest is
causing the damage.
Organic Sprays for Lace Bug Control
In spite of their imposing shields, lace bugs are susceptible to
most organic sprays.
The trick is to apply the sprays thoroughly to the undersides of
leaves, where lace bugs feed and reproduce. Use these sprays to kill active
lace bug adult and larvae populations:
Light horticultural oil - Insect soap – Neem - Spinosad
Cultural Control of Lace Bugs
As with all plants, those under stress make the tastiest meal for
Ensure your plants can shrug off minor lace bug attacks by keeping
them healthy. You may as well hang up a “dine here” neon sign if you allow your
azalea, a woodland shrub, to bake in full sun. Dry soil and an absence of mulch
also create conditions that pique the interest of lace bugs. Dappled shade or
morning sun, regular irrigation, and a 3-inch layer of organic mulch keep
plants vigorous and pest-free.
Beneficial Insects That Kill Lace Bugs
Many predators feed on lace bugs, reducing your need to spray
insecticides on your flowering plants. Natural lace bug enemies include:
If you want to provide a beneficial bug-friendly habitat to
attract these natural predators, eliminate the use of insecticide sprays.
Insecticides not only kill beneficial insects, but they eliminate the food
source of beneficial bugs, forcing them to seek greener pastures.
Conventional Pesticides to Control Lace Bugs
If lace bug swarms are turning your flowering oasis into a
withered graveyard, it might be time to break out some conventional chemical
pesticides. A benefit of these broad-spectrum sprays is their residual effect,
helping to kill multiple generations of lace bugs.
Use any of these sprays to kill lace bugs:
Carbaryl, sold under the brand name Sevin - Imidacloprid.or Malathion
Of these conventional sprays, only the imidacloprid is systemic,
meaning the plant takes up the chemical, making it rain proof. Homeowners can
shop for imidacloprid under the brand name Merit or Bayer Advanced Garden Tree
& Shrub Insect Control.