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Cotton Insect Pests

photo of whitefliesPlant Bugs

Adult tarnished plant bugs are approximately 1/4 of an inch in length and tarnished brown in color. The small inverted triangle located in the center of the back is typical of plant bugs and other insects in this group. The sharp downward bend in the wings is a useful character in identifying tarnished plant bug adults. The five distinct spots on the back of the nymph of the tarnished plant bug are useful characters to look for in identifying this fast moving insect. Plant bugs cause damage by feeding on small squares with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. These blasted squares turn black and are soon shed from the plant resulting in an abscission scar. Many factors other than injury by plant bugs also can cause fruit to shed. Plant bugs also can cause damage by feeding on young bolls, resulting in small, dark sunken lesions on the surface of the boll. Slicing bolls that are damaged in this manner will often reveal local "jellied" areas where the salivary enzymes injected by the plant bug have destroyed developing tissue. Other plant bugs include cotton fleahoppers, which are much smaller than tarnished plant bugs and cause damage primarily by blasting small squares, and clouded plant bugs which primarily occur during late season and damage bolls similarly to tarnished plant bugs.