Insect guide > Bugs > Leaf Bugs

Leaf Bugs


(Family Capsidae.)
The usually rather slender and delicate bugs known as "leafbugs" or "true plant bugs", having two cells in the wing membrane, belong to this family. More than one thousand species are known, and of these more than two hundred and fifty inhabit the United States. It is undoubtedly the largest group of Heteroptera, and thousands of species are as yet undescribed.

They are not all true plant feeders, and very few of them occur in sufficient numbers to become important crop enemies. Some of them habitually prey on other insects, and I have seen Camptobrochis grandis sucking the eggs of the imported elm-leaf beetle (Galerucella luteola), while Mr. Heidemann states that Lopidea media Say once alighted on the back of his hand, and that (with a true scientific interest) he watched it pierce the skin and suck his blood for some minutes. A common species in the east, Oncognathus binotatus Fabr., frequents the heads of timothy grass. Fulvius anthocoroides Uhl. is found commonly on lichens on old stumps. Lygus pratensis, known as the "tarnished plant bug", is present in all flower and vegetable gardens, and causes what is called the "buttoning" of strawberries. The natural egg place of this common insect is not known, but the rest of its life has been well worked out by Woodworth, although there is probably one more molt than he has observed, i.e., five instead of four. Halticus uhleri Giard, known as the "garden flea-hopper", is common in gardens and is injurious to flowers and vegetables.

Typical Life History of a Leaf-Bug
(PÅ“rilocapsus lineatus Fabr.)
This insect, known as the four-lined leaf-bug, is found all over the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and is a common garden pest, sucking the sap of gooseberry bushes, currants, dahlias and many other plants. The insect passes the winter in the egg stage. The eggs are inserted in slits cut lengthwise into the stems of plants extending through the bark and wood nearly half way to the pith. The slits may be an eighth of inch in length, and into each of them is pushed from two to fourteen eggs. These are crowded side by side, are about 1.6 mm. long, smooth, cylindrical, slightly curved, lightyellow in color, and with the outer third capped with a white striate portion. From these eggs the young hatch in the spring - the latter part of May in central New York - and feed upon the tender new growth of leaves for from two to three weeks, undergoing five molts. The adult bugs appear early in June, and often spread to the different surrounding plants. Egg-laying begins in the latter part of June ; the adults disappear in July, and, as above stated, the insect hibernates in the egg stage.

There is only one generation each year in New York, but in the southern states there are more. The young insect when first hatched from the egg is of a shining vermilion color, marked with large blackish spots on the thorax. The antennae and legs are of a greenish-black color. The red color is retained until the last stage before the adult is reached, then the large black spots on the thorax seem to mark the beginning of wing pads, which have gradually become more and more apparent after each molt. In the adult insect a radical change in color is found. The general color is bright orange-yellow ; the legs and the wing covers are of dark apple-green, but the wing covers and the thorax are marked with four black stripes.
This life history was first worked out by Professor Slingerland, of Cornell University.