Yucca Plant Bug (Halticotoma valida)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Yucca Plant Bug.
Updated: 7/17/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Yucca Plant Bug is small on its own, but mighty in great numbers. Its shy nature makes it difficult to get a look at the plant-killing culprit.
Yucca Plant Bugs are small red and black insects that live on yuccas, a drought-tolerant ornamental plant. The bugs survive by drinking the plant's juices. They generally cluster at the base of the plant, but venture out individually onto the long blades (leaves). Their bright orange legs are fast, and once aware that they are being observed, the Yucca Plant Bug rapidly runs to the other side of the leaf or back down to the center of the plant to hide.
Yucca plants infested with this bug will start to show yellow spots on the leaf blades. In addition, the bugs leave dark brown specks of feces on the plant. The overall green color of the plant will fade into a yellowish hue leading the plant owner to think it may just needs more water. The plant is drying out, but only because of the constant drain on its liquids by the hungry Yucca Plant Bug. Eventually, if left unchecked, a population of bugs can kill the entire yucca.
Yucca Plant Bugs are fast reproducers. Three to five generations can develop each year. Females implant their fertilized eggs into the leaves of the yucca. Late season eggs will overwinter and hatch in the spring. Their young nymphs are much smaller versions of the adult (about 1 mm long). Due to this fast turnover, plant owners seeking to save an infested plant will need to apply an insecticidal soap treatments more than just once. Incomplete insecticide coverage may allow some bugs or eggs to survive and reestablish the population. Beyond chemical control, only a deep frost seems to kill the nymphs and adults, though implanted eggs will stay dormant and hatch in warmer months.