Azalea lace bugs

Kelly and I were visiting her folks in West Monroe, Louisiana recent and she noticed some

Stephanitis pyrioides colected 21 May 2013 in West Monroe, LA.

Stephanitis pyrioides colected 21 May 2013 in West Monroe, LA.

tingids were causing damage to the azalea (Rhododendron sp.) bushes in her parent’s front yard. The damage was from the insects feeding and the leaves looked like they were sand blasted. We collected a few individuals while we were loading up the car and then took off home.

Well, I had never collected tingids because they seemed so fragile, but they pointed easily. They next step was to identify them, and a spiffy key was available for Florida’s tingids. The tingids we collected keyed out to be Stephanitis pyrioides. A quick check of of habits confirmed that S. pyrioides is associated with azalea bushes, in fact it has the common name of azalea lace bug.

The kicker is that S. pyrioides is native to Japan. The first US discovery was reported in New Jersey in 1916 (Weiss 1916). As azaleas have been moved around the globe, so has the azalea lace bug.

Being as this insect is a problem in ornamental plants, control is dictated by aesthetics. Control is not difficult. I read no reports of this species in natural settings.

At first I was disappointed to have the first tingid I identified be an introduced species, but it is still an interesting and beautiful insect. It is mind boggling just how many of our common insects are introduced. Introduced insects and plants are definitely a major component of human induced ‘global weirding’, so I shouldn’t be surprised to find non-native insects on non-native plants in a human impacted (front yard) ecosystem.

Reference:                                                                                                                                Weiss, H. B. 1916. Foreign pests recently established in New Jersey. Journal of Economic Entomology 9: 212-216

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