Azalea Lace Bugs – Stephanitis pyrioides

Azalea Lace Bugs: Appearance, Territory, Damage, and Life Cycle

Latin Name: Stephanitis Pyrioides

Appearance: There are various Lace Bugs in the Tingidae family that are agricultural pests. Lace Bugs often feed on specific plants or groups of plants, and their common names incorporate the names of the plants they harm. The Azalea Lace Bug, a pest of Azaleas and Rhododendrons, is the most common and well-known Lace Bug.

Adult lace bugs are around 18 inches long. The wings are intricately sculpted and have a lacy appearance. Adults have dark markings on their backs and wings. When they are on the leaf, their markings make them tough to see. The immature versions, known as nymphs, are colorless at first but eventually turn black. The nymphs’ backs are covered in spines.

Hosts Plants: The azalea lace bug, which originated in Japan, spread over the world due to the mobility of its host species, azaleas.

Territory: It is found throughout most of the eastern United States, including Florida. It has been documented in the states of Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and California.

Damage Insect Cause: Adults and nymphs both have needle-like mouthparts that they utilize to suck plant sap from the underside of leaves. Feeding damage causes pale-colored speckling (stippling) on the upper surfaces of the leaves, giving them a grayish tinge. When the damage is severe enough, the entire leaf turns white and falls prematurely. Because of the early leaf drop, the azalea may become prone to various dieback diseases. Because lace bugs eat on the underside of the leaf, most people do not notice them until there is damage. On the undersides of leaves, you can find black sparkling fragments of insect feces and cast-off skins from young forms.

Life History and Habits: Females deposit groups of partially embedded eggs on the underside of leaves, primarily along the midrib but also on lateral veins and, on rare occasions, on the upper leaf surface. During the adult stage, around 300 eggs are laid at a rate of five to seven eggs per day. Egg development times range from about 12 days to 22 days.

Nymphs hatch from eggs and feed in tiny groups, frequently around empty eggshells. Their development through five instars is also temperature-dependent, requiring 10.5 days at 31.7°C to approximately 23 days at 20.6°C. It would take 22 to 45 days from egg to adult at temperatures ranging from 20.6 to 31.7°C. Under the same temperature range, adult longevity ranges from one to four months. In a year, two to four generations are finished. This species spends the winter in its egg stage.