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Yucca Plant Bug (Halticotoma valida)

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

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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.

Updated: 01/06/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Garden pest insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Miridae
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          Genus: Halticotoma
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            Species: valida

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Halticotoma valida
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 4mm (0.03" to 0.15")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red; orange; brown
Descriptors: tiny; shy; scared; flying; clusters; garden pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 1mm (0.0in) and 4mm (0.2in)
Lo: 1mm
Md: 2.5mm
Hi: 4mm

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 Yucca 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 Yucca Plant Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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