Lace Bugs on Landscape Plants

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This week I have seen a couple species of lace bugs active on landscape plants. Yes, there are over a dozen species of lace bugs in NC not just the one on azaleas that drives everyone nuts. Some the most common are, of course, the azalea lace bug, hawthorn lace bug, oak lace bug, and sycamore lace bug.

Oak lace bugs in multiple stages with fecal spots. Photo: SD Frank

Oak lace bugs in multiple stages with fecal spots. Photo: SD Frank

Lace bugs all cause what is called stippling damage which looks like hundreds of tiny discolored specks on leaves. This is from when lace bugs poke in their needle like mouth parts and suck out the plant juices, including chlorophyll. Without chlorophyll that spot turns yellow or white and eventually brown. Lace bugs also make a lot of fecal spots on the undersides of leaves.

Hawthorn lace bug damage on cotoneaster. Photo: SD Frank

Hawthorn lace bug damage on cotoneaster. Photo: SD Frank

Hawthorn lace bugs feed on many common plants including hawthorn, cotoneaster,  pyracantha, crab apple, serviceberry (Amelanchier), mountain ash and others. Lace bugs are hard to managage with foliar insecticides because they reside on the bottom side of leaves. Be to cover these parts with the horticultural oil or soap or other product you apply. Lace bugs can also be managed with systemic products. However, many of the lace bugs’ favorite plants also flower a lot so be conscious of the labels and restrictions regarding pollinators.