Distribution. Eggplant lace bug occurs widely in the eastern United States north to about New Hamp shire and Iowa, and west to Kansas and Arizona, but it is not common in the Gulf Coast area. There are occasional reports from outside this range, including from Canada, but it is infrequently abundant in such areas. The range of eggplant lace bug also extends into Mexico. This appears to be a native insect.
Host Plants. As its common name suggests, this insect affects principally eggplant, though it sometimes affects potato and perhaps tomato. Not surprisingly, it is commonly found on weeds in the plant family Solanaceae such as horsenettle, Solanum carolinense, and silverleaf nightshade, S. elaeagnifolium. Eggplant lace bug occasionally is reported from hosts other than Solanaceae, including Compositae, Legu-minosae, and Malvaceae.
Natural Enemies. Several common predators have been observed to attack eggplant lace bug, among them the lady beetles Hippodamia convergens Guerin-Meneville and Coleomegilla maculata De Geer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae); the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae); the insidious flower bug, Orius insidiosus (Say) (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae); and various spiders.
Life Cycle and Description. In Virginia the complete life cycle takes about 20 days, and these lace bugs are active from May to November. Adults overwinter, often in clumps of grass but sometimes under bark. The number of generations is estimated at 6-8 per year, but overlap so completely that they are hard to distinguish.
Eggplant lace bug adults display complex social interactions, including maternal behavior. For example, the female remains with the eggs and nymphs as they develop. As nymphs deplete the food and become restless, the adult leads them to a new feeding site. Nymphs respond to an alarm pheromone that is released when the bugs are crushed by dispersing quickly, only to reassemble at another location, accompanied by the adult. The alarm pheromone was described by Aldrich et al. (1991a). The adults use wing fanning to deter predation, and also to communicate with nymphs. There is some evidence for an aggregation pheromone (Kearns and Yamamoto, 1981). Interestingly, females frequently deposit their eggs within egg clusters of other females. This relegates the recipient female to surrogate mother status, allowing the donor female to continue to produce more eggs without the responsibility for care of her offspring (Tallamy, 1985).
An excellent treatment of eggplant lace bug biology was given by Fink (1915), with supplementary information provided by Bailey (1951). Eggplant lace bug
was included in keys to the Hemiptera of Missouri (Froeschner, 1944) and the lace bugs of North Carolina (Horn et al., 1979).
The adults and nymphs suck sap from the leaves of host plants. The first symptom of injury is large discolored blotches or patches, usually circular in shape. This reflects the feeding by the adult, and perhaps the very young nymphs, in the vicinity of the egg cluster. Later, as the nymphs disperse away from the egg cluster, the discoloration spreads until the entire leaf is involved, turning yellow and dry. Often every leaf of an infested plant is discolored as the insects move from leaf to leaf. The adults disperse from plant to plant.
Although lace bugs are not often serious pests, they occasionally reach damaging levels. They are readily suppressed with insecticides applied to the foliage, but care must be taken to attain thorough coverage of the plant because these insects are found on the lower surfaces of the leaves.
Was this article helpful?