Garden Wildlife
             Garden Wildlife
Plant-eating land bugs
 
 Many of the bugs in the order Hemiptera, sub order Heteroptera feed by sucking sap from plants.  Most of them are in the size range of 3-12mm but plant-feeding shieldbugs, which have their own page in this site, can be larger.
 
Species in Britain and Ireland
The bugs most likely to come to the attention of gardeners are those that damage plants.  These are mostly in the families Miridae (mirid or capsid bugs)   Lygaeidae (seed bugs) and the lace bugs Tingidae.    A non-native species, Stephanitis takeyai, has become widespread in south east England where it causes severe mottling of the foliage on Pieris and Rhododendron. 
 
Capsid bugs: Globally, there are 10,000 species of bugs in the Miridae, the largest family in the Heteroptera.   Jennifer Owen recorded no less than 62 species in her garden, with Deraeocoris lutescens, which ironically is a predator, the most abundant. Other common mirids include the common green capsid bug, Lygocoris pabulinus, the tarnished plant bug, Lygus rugulipennis, and apple capsid bug, Plesiocoris rugulicollis.
 
 
 
Common green capsid bug                    Capsid bug                                         Tarnished plant bug
   Lygocoris pabulinus                   Deraeocoris lutescens                                  Lygus rugulipennis
 
 
 
Seed bugs:  Jennifer Owen recorded 10 species lygaeid bugs in her garden. Many species do eat seeds, but others are plant suckers and some are predators. The birch catkin bug Keidocerys resedae was most abundant in Owen's garden, followed by Drymus sylvaticus.
 
 
 
          Birch catkin bug Keidocerys resedae                                         Seed bug Drymus sylvaticus
 
Lacebugs: The Tingidae are all very small bugs, with a lace-like pattern over the thorax and forewings.  Jennifer Owen recorded 4 species in her garden.  The 3-4mm Tingis ampliata was found most often. Lacebugs can have two or more generations in each year.
 
 
 
 
Role of plant-feeding land bugs in gardens
Most of plant feeding land bug species cause no or only limited damage to garden plants and are part of a health garden ecosystem. The majority of the nearly 400 plant-feeding bugs in the British Isles feed on uncultivated plants, or they do not have sufficient impact on cultivated plants to cause any concern. A few capsid bugs and other mirid species cause damage while feeding on the developing tissues at the shoot tips or flower buds.  This results in the foliage developing many small holes as the new leaves emerge from buds and expand.  Plants that are often damaged in this way include Caryopteris, hardy fuchsias, Forsythia and dahlias.  Flowers may be distorted or flower buds may abort before opening.  Apple capsid causes raised corky bumps on the fruits.  Heavy infestations of Pieris lacebug cause the foliage to lose most of its green colour during the summer and affected shrubs may shed their damaged leaves.
 
 
 
Other sources of information
 
Websites
Website of British Bugs
RHS information on capsid bugs
RHS information on new alien species western conifer seed bug
RHS information on Pieris lacebug
 
Book
Southwood, T. R.E. & Leston, D. (1959) Land and water bugs of the British Isles.  Available as a CD-ROM or facsimile book from Pisces Conservation Ltd
 
 
 
Page drafted by Andrew Halstead,  reviewed by Andrew Salisbury, edited by Steve Head
 
                                                        Lacebug Tingis ampliata 
 
Biology
Plant-feeding bugs have sucking mouthparts that they insert into plant tissues in order to feed on the sap.  They often feed at the shoot tips, on flower buds or on developing seed heads.
 
Life cycle
Eggs are laid on plants during the spring or summer.  These hatch into nymphs which can be similar in appearance to the adult insect. They gradually developing the adult features as they pass though several, usually three to four nymphal instars.  Many species overwinter as adult insects in sheltered places but some overwinter as eggs.  A common species of birch bug, Kleidocerys resedae, sometimes overwinters in outbuildings.
Capsid bug nymph
Deraeocoris lutescens
 
 
 
 
Seed bugs:  Jennifer Owen recorded 10 species lygaeid bugs in her garden. Many species do eat seeds, but others are plant suckers and some are predators. The birch catkin bug Keidocerys resedae was most abundant in Owen's garden, followed by Drymus sylvaticus.
 
 
 
Top left: Common green capsid bug  Lygocoris pabulinus                  
Top right: Capsid bug Deraeocoris lutescens       
 
Left: Tarnished plant bug Lygus rugulipennis
         
 
 
 
 
Birch catkin bug Keidocerys resedae                                         Seed bug Drymus sylvaticus
 
Lacebugs: The Tingidae are all very small bugs, with a lace-like pattern over the thorax and forewings.  Jennifer Owen recorded 4 species in her garden.  The 3-4mm Tingis ampliata was found most often. Lacebugs can have two or more generations in each year.
                                       Lacebug Tingis ampliata 
 
Biology
Plant-feeding bugs have sucking mouthparts that they insert into plant tissues in order to feed on the sap.  They often feed at the shoot tips, on flower buds or on developing seed heads.
 
Life cycle
Eggs are laid on plants during the spring or summer.  These hatch into nymphs which can be similar in appearance to the adult insect. They gradually developing the adult features as they pass though several, usually three to four nymphal instars.  Many species overwinter as adult insects in sheltered places but some overwinter as eggs.  A common species of birch bug, Kleidocerys resedae, sometimes overwinters in outbuildings.
Role of plant-feeding land bugs in gardens
Most of plant feeding land bug species cause no or only limited damage to garden plants and are part of a health garden ecosystem. The majority of the nearly 400 plant-feeding bugs in the British Isles feed on uncultivated plants, or they do not have sufficient impact on cultivated plants to cause any concern. A few capsid bugs and other mirid species cause damage while feeding on the developing tissues at the shoot tips or flower buds.  This results in the foliage developing many small holes as the new leaves emerge from buds and expand.  Plants that are often damaged in this way include Caryopteris, hardy fuchsias, Forsythia and dahlias.  Flowers may be distorted or flower buds may abort before opening.  Apple capsid causes raised corky bumps on the fruits.  Heavy infestations of Pieris lacebug cause the foliage to lose most of its green colour during the summer and affected shrubs may shed their damaged leaves.
 
 
 
Other sources of information
 
Websites
Website of British Bugs
RHS information on capsid bugs
RHS information on new alien species western conifer seed bug
RHS information on Pieris lacebug
 
Book
Southwood, T. R.E. & Leston, D. (1959) Land and water bugs of the British Isles.  Available as a CD-ROM or facsimile book from Pisces Conservation Ltd
 
 
Page drafted by Andrew Halstead,  reviewed by Andrew Salisbury, edited by Steve Head
 
Capsid bug nymph
Deraeocoris lutescens
Plant-eating land bugs
 
Many of the bugs in the order Hemiptera, sub order Heteroptera feed by sucking sap from plants.  Most of them are in the size range of 3-12mm but plant-feeding shieldbugs, which have their own page in this site, can be larger.
 
Species in Britain and Ireland
The bugs most likely to come to the attention of gardeners are those that damage plants.  These are mostly in the families Miridae (mirid or capsid bugs)   Lygaeidae (seed bugs) and the lace bugs Tingidae.    A non-native species, Stephanitis takeyai, has become widespread in south east England where it causes severe mottling of the foliage on Pieris and Rhododendron. 
 
Capsid bugs: Globally, there are 10,000 species of bugs in the Miridae, the largest family in the Heteroptera.   Jennifer Owen recorded no less than 62 species in her garden, with Deraeocoris lutescens, which ironically is a predator, the most abundant. Other common mirids include the common green capsid bug, Lygocoris pabulinus, the tarnished plant bug, Lygus rugulipennis, and apple capsid bug, Plesiocoris rugulicollis.