True Bugs (Order Hemiptera)

Pest Management In and Around Structures September 26, 2013|Print
Management of Pest Insects

in and Around the Home


True Bugs (Order Hemiptera)

A group of insects known as the true bugs, the Hemiptera (suborder Heteroptera), include such common insects as bed bugs, stink bugs, and those discussed below. They all possess piercing-sucking mouthparts, and most species have forewings with both membranous and hardened portions (called hemelytra). True bugs are represented by plant feeders, predators, and blood feeders.

Wheel bug
Wheel bugs (Reduviidae: Arilus cristatus): Large, 1 to 1.25 inch silver insect with a distinct wheel-shaped pronotum (upper thorax). Habits: Wheel bugs are predatory, and eat other insects. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts, and may bite if handled. Interventions: Usually, wheel bugs are not so plentiful to require insecticide treatment. If present, and control warranted, try crushing or directly spraying individual bugs with an aerosol insecticide labeled for general insect pests. Widespread insecticide treatments are not needed. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at caes.uga.edu/publications. Might Be Confused With: beetles, stink bugs.

Boxelder bugs
Boxelder bugs (Rhopalidae: Boisea trivittata): Adults are 1/2 to 5/8 inch, with red eyes, and are black with orange to red stripes. Immatures are wingless, black and orange/red. Habits: Boxelder bugs are a nuisance pest in the Fall. In addition to finding individuals, in some cases bugs are found in mixed aggregations of adults and nymphs as they prepare to overwinter. Feeds on leaves and seeds of boxelder and silver maple
trees. Interventions: Because boxelder bugs are harmless, follow suggestions (Summer) under section titled Proactive Pest Management. Important to ensure window and door screens are intact and that doorsweeps are installed properly. If insect problems are such a nuisance that they require treatment, treat bugs directly with an appropriately labeled residual spray (spray only outdoors). If bugs get inside the best solution is to vacuum them. If bugs die inside walls or in attics their carcasses can accumulate and attract other insects that eat them, especially carpet beetles. Might Be Confused With: milkweed bugs (Lygaeidae), golden raintree bugs, stink bugs.

Kudzu bugs
Kudzu bugs (Plataspidae: Megacopta cribraria): Wider posterior than anterior, about 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Red eyes, green to brown body with stipples present on wing covers. Distinct odor. Habits: Flies to light-colored surfaces (buildings and automobiles), from nearby kudzu patches, in October/November as it looks for overwintering sites. Active again in Spring (February to April) as it awakes from Winter slumber. Native to Asia, was discovered in Georgia (and the Western Hemisphere) for the first time in October 2009. Feeds on kudzu as well as other legumes, including soybeans. Interventions: Before kudzu bugs begin to move (October), take action to (1) seal all cracks 1/8 wide or wider, and (2) spot spray around all potential entry points with an appropriately labeled residual spray. Reapply insecticide treatments, per label specifications, through the end of November. Interventions should be implemented early enough mid-September) so that preventative measures are in place before the onset of kudzu bug movement. In Summer, remove kudzu if possible. It is especially important to make sure all windows are screened, that doors remain closed, and doorsweeps are installed on all exterior doors. As temperatures decline into the Winter months kudzu bugs become less of a nuisance. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #991, Megacopta cribraria as a Nuisance Pest, at caes.uga.edu/publications. Might Be Confused With: lady beetles, brown-marmorated stink bugs.

Brown-Marmorated Stink bug
Brown-Marmorated Stink bugs (Pentatomidae: Halyomorpha halys): Brown marbledor mottled-colored stink bug, 5/8 inch, adults with distinctive white-banded antennae. Habits: First discovered in northwest Georgia in 2010, this invasive Asian species was first reported in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 1996. An important agricultural pest of fruit crops as well as row crops and vegetables. Like the kudzu bug, boxelder bug, and
multicolored Asian lady beetle, this bug is attracted to homes in the Fall in search of overwintering sites, sometimes in large numbers. Interventions: Follow suggestions under section titled Proactive Pest Management, especially the installation of doorsweeps and screens. Before brown-marmorated stink bugs begin to seek refuge indoors (Fall), take action to (1) seal all cracks 1/8 wide or wider, and (2) spot spray around all potential entry points with an appropriately labeled residual spray. Reapply insecticide treatments, per label specifications, through the end of November. Interventions should be implemented early enough (mid-September) so that preventative measures are in place before the onset
of stink bug migration indoors. It is especially important to make sure all windows are screened, that doors remain closed, and doorsweeps are installed on all exterior doors. If bugs get inside the best solution is to vacuum them. Insecticide treatments indoors are not recommended. If bugs die inside walls or in attics their carcasses can accumulate and attract other insects that eat them, especially carpet beetles. Might Be Confused With: kudzu bugs, lady beetles.

Bat bug Photo by W. H. Kern, Univ Fla Ent. & Nem.
Bat bugs (Polyctenidae: several species): Small (1/16 to 3/16 inch), flattened, reddish brown-colored insect nearly identical in visual appearance to the common bed bug. Habits: Bat bugs are parasitic insects that prefer to feed on bats and are therefore typically found in attics. Bat bugs rarely bite people. They appear in areas where it is not logical to find bed bugs (on window sills, in the middle of a room, kitchen, etc.). Bat bugs may
invade human living spaces after bat infestations are eliminated, and can continue to move from the bat infestation site (usually the attic) into living areas for months after bats are excluded. Interventions: Capture several bugs, place them in a vial or jar, and obtain positive identification from an entomologist. If positive bat bug identification is made, contact a pest management professional. Bat bug control should target (including
a thorough inspection) the source of the bugs. Might Be Confused With: common bed bugs.

Common Bed bug
Common Bed bugs (Cimicidae: Cimex lectularius): Small (1/16 to 3/16 inch), flattened, reddish brown-colored insect nearly identical in visual appearance to the bat bug. Habits: Bed bugs are parasitic insects that prefer to feed on human blood. Found in locations where people rest, especially bedrooms, couches, etc. Found resting in cracks and crevices from which they emerge at night to feed on blood of their human hosts. Common resting sites include mattress seams, box spring screw holes, under nightstands, behind wall hangings, behind headboards, under the carpet along the baseboard (especially in corners), etc. Like other blood-feeding arthropods (ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes), bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, as it is indicative of a warmblooded host. Interventions: Capture several bugs, place them in a vial or jar, and acquire
positive identification from an entomologist. If a positive identification is made, contact a pest management professional skilled and experienced in the treatment and elimination of bed bug infestations. Bed bug elimination is very difficult, and should be left to an experienced professional. Total release aerosols (bug bombs) are ineffective at controlling bed bugs, and should not be used indoors. For additional information on bed bugs, visit epa.gov/bedbugs. Might Be Confused With: bat bugs, carpet beetles.

Plate1. The southern chinch bug (Credit: J Castner, UF).
A Chinch bug (Blissidae: Ischnodemus sp.): Cigar-shaped, black insect, 3/8 to 1/2 inch, with triangle-shaped head, short antennae, and silver wings. Habits: In Georgia, found most commonly on exterior walls in the Fall (September-November). Adults and nymphs are leaf feeders, causing damage to leaf tissue of mostly grasses (for example, flat sedge and related sedges in Georgia) by disrupting and depressing overall plant growth. Its feeding undoubtedly influences flowering and seed production. Interventions: Chinch bug populations are likely to subside on their own as the seasons change; if given enough time the problem is likely to take care of itself. Follow suggestions under section titled Proactive est Management, especially the installation of doorsweeps and screens. If insect problems are such a nuisance that they require treatment, treat bugs directly with an appropriately labeled residual spray (spray only outdoors). Might Be Confused With: boxelder bugs.