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Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Tarnished Plant Bug

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If you are growing something to eat or flowers to decorate with, the Tarnished Plant Bug is likely feeding on it.

Updated: 05/30/2024; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Widespread across the continent, the Tarnished Plant Bug is one of the most common insects in gardens and fields. The name comes from its bronzed appearance. The brown body has a yellow ?Y?-shaped mark in the center of the ?back?, and two yellow patches near the rear end. This bug is not a beetle, but a True Bug. It is not large, so it can go unnoticed by gardeners that do not survey their plants often. Even those that regularly check plants might miss the bug racing to the underside of a leaf for cover.

This bug leaves evidence of its feeding. It saliva breaks down plant tissue, and on celery stalks, it may be brown near the leaves. On romaine lettuce, the thick, white part at the bottom may have red or brown discoloration. Other indications it is present could be leaf deformation, scarring on stems, and yellow discoloration on many other plants. Feeding on flower buds prevents them from developing normally or even causes the bud to fall off.

Controlling its population through insecticide use is tricky since the bug is highly mobile. A parasitic wasp is a natural predator for the Tarnished Plant Bug and can be quite effective in reducing the number of Tarnished Plant Bugs in an area. Encouraging the presence of other predatory insects like lady beetles (ladybugs) also helps. Use of row covers until flowers form protects young plants. Keeping weeds under control and clearing away plant debris before winter eliminates places for the bug to take shelter in the coldest months.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Tarnished-Plant-Bug

plant liquids
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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Miridae
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          Genus: Lygus
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            Species: lineolaris

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lygus lineolaris
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 5mm (0.11" to 0.19")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; yellow
Descriptors: yellow 'Y' mark on back; yellow side spots

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 3mm (0.1in) and 5mm (0.2in)
Lo: 3mm
Md: 4mm
Hi: 5mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Tarnished Plant Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Tarnished Plant Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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