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The Yucca Plant Bug is small on its own, but mighty destructive in great numbers, quietly ruining the very plant it was named after.
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 occasionally venture out individually onto the long leafy blades. Their bright orange legs are fast, and once aware that it is 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. This means yucca owners need to be diligent about checking the plant, especially if it looks like it is suffering.
Yucca plants infested with this bug 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 need more water. While it is true that the plant is drying out, it is actually because of the constant drain on its internal liquids by the hungry Yucca Plant Bug. Eventually, if left unchecked, a population of these 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 need to apply an insecticidal soap treatment 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.
Scientific Name: Halticotoma valida
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 4mm (0.04in to 0.16in)
Colors: black, red, orange, brown
Descriptors: tiny, shy, scared, flying, clusters, garden pest
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