Fourlined Plant Bugs


Joe Boggs reported seeing early fourlined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus) damage on annuals and herbaceous perennials in southwest Ohio.  This sucking insect feeds on over 250 herbaceous plant species including some woody ornamentals.  The quick-moving nymphs are reddish-orange with black wing pads.  The appropriately named adults vary from yellow to green in color and have four black stripes down the wings.

Like many plant-feeding Hemipterans, the fourlined plant bug injects enzymes into the plant causing cells to collapse.  The bugs then feed on the resulting "slurry."  The damage appears as small, round, black sunken spots which may coalesce into extensive blackened areas on infested leaves.  The symptoms are commonly mistaken for a plant leaf disease.

The plant bug has only one generation per year.  However, both the adults and nymphs are heavy feeders and high populations can produce significant plant injury.  Targeting the early instar nymphs for control reduces the overall damage caused by this insect, thus control measures need to be applied now to prevent much of the damage that will occur for the season.