Stealthy Pest: Tarnished plant bug

Among the more frustrating pests for flower growers, tarnished plant bug often arrives suddenly and undetected, until the unpleasant surprise when the damage shows several days later. Attacks on flower buds result in lopsided blooms or ones that completely fail to open.

Feeding on stems and unexpanded leaves (as in basil) can cause splitting or small holes. It’s a pest for many other crops too, with a very wide host range that includes more than half of all US crop plants. On asparagus stems die back or ferns will be distorted, tomato fruits develop small black sunken areas, snap beans flowers are aborted or pods develop brown spots, celery and lettuce develop small rusty or dark lesions on stems or veins. Feeding causes dimpling or ‘catfacing’ symptoms on apples, peaches, brambles, and strawberries. In alfalfa, damage to terminals, flowers and pods results in stunting, dead buds, flower drop and shriveled seeds. In conifer seedling nurseries it can cause a kind of bushy stunted growth and split stems. Tarnished plant bug is an occasional indoor (greenhouse) pest though more often troublesome in outdoor production.

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