Azalea Lace bug

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 Photo Courtesy of Oregon State University

  • Azalea lace bugs are small winged insects that cause damage primarily to azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and a few other trees and shrubs. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to feed off the plant juices. Extensively damaged leaves will become nearly white and prematurely drop from the plant. The azalea lace bugs will primarily feed on the underside of leaves, causing the tops of the leaves to form a yellow stippling or flecking color. 
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Mountain Laurel is also known to be a common host as well as other trees and shrubs.
  • Adult lacebugs lay their eggs in the leaves near the mid-leaf vein. Once eggs hatch nymphs begin feeding on leaf juices, chomping away for about 6 weeks until they mature into adults and repeat the cycle. There can be several generations of lace bugs per year.
  • Beneficial Insects:
    Orius insidiosus — aka pirate bugs, a generalist beetle predator that feeds on nymph stages of the lacebug. They are great fliers, which enables them to travel and seek out prey. They need a food source in order to establish a population, which can be achieved with adequate pollen, ephestia eggs, and/or by introducing a healthy banker plant system.

    Chrysoperla rufilabris — aka green lacewings, a generalist predator that feed on lacebugs. Each larva can devour 200 or more pests and eggs a week for about 3 weeks. At that time, the larvae pupate and become adult lacewings, which emerge to lay eggs on the foliage. Adults can lay more than 200 eggs during their lifetime. Since Azalea lacebugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaf, the newly hatched larvae of lacewings can easily find their prey and begin feeding.

    Insecticide Options:
    Horticultural oil sprays with an active ingredient of Neem oil are recommended for the azalea lacebug as well as Marrone product Venerate XC, which has Azalea lacebug listed as one of its target pests.

    Cultural Control Tips:
    Azaela Lacebugs thrive in hot and dry environments. With light infestations, using a hose to spray down plants can help keep populations from establishing as well as keeping plants watered and soil moist.

    Further Considerations:
    Building biodiversity into the system by attracting naturally occurring predators can help tremendously. A variety of helpful “banker plants” include Lobularia martima (sweet alyssum) and the Ornamental Pepper variety “Purple Flash” have both proven to be great banker plants to attract Orius insidiosus. They provide a food source while supporting their establishment in a crop. When choosing a Lobularia spp. variety, any hybrid variety can be used, however, the white and more fragrant varieties are often recommended and less expensive.

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Always obtain an accurate diagnosis and ensure you are using good cultural and sanitation practices. Local extension offices will generally be able to identify your pest. Additionally, feel free to send us images and we will do our best to assist you.

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