Tarnished Plant Bug Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Tarnished Plant Bugs

Both the nymph and adult tarnished plant bugs can cause significant damages to a wide array of host plants, not only at home gardens, but even in commercial plantations. They excrete a toxin, which negatively affects the growth and health of their host. It is important to be familiar with how to get rid of tarnished plant bug to make sure that the damages will not be severe.

The eggs of tarnished plant bugs and tiny and truncate, with an average length of one millimeter and width of .25 millimeter. It has a flat top, which also has an opening. This is where a nymph emerges. A young nymph will have an approximate length of 1 millimeter and is yellowish-green. As it becomes older, the color becomes darker and spots start to be visible throughout their body. Meanwhile, an adult tarnished plant bug will have an average length of 6 millimeters and width of 3 millimeters. Its body is oval and flat. It has a yellowish-brown head with mouthparts that can suck different parts of its host plant. They also have long antennae and legs.

Tarnished Plant Bugs

Tarnished Plant Bugs on Chrysanthemum

Tarnished Plant Bug’s Habitat

The eggs of tarnished plant bugs are present in the leaf ribs and stems of their host plants. They are laid by the adult bugs in spring right after overwintering. When they overwinter, the adults often hide in leaf litter, decaying vegetation, tree barks, and rock piles, among other places that will provide them with a shield from the extreme cold. Most of the feeding activities of adults happen in the start of spring, which is anywhere from April to June. While they feed on different plants, they prefer young ones.

Identifying Tarnished Plant Bug’s Damage

Plants Affected

Based on existing records, tarnished plant bugs affect more than 385 plants, most of which are from the Asteridae and Rosidae subclasses. To be specific, some of its most common host plants include alfalfa, apples, strawberries, pears, carrots, tomatoes, peaches, soybeans, asparagus, artichoke, celery, cabbage, watermelon, turnip, sweet potato, celery, cauliflower, dahlia, and chrysanthemum, among others.


The following are some of the most common symptoms that will be indicative of the presence of tarnished plant bugs:

  • These bugs have piercing mouthparts. It will cause the leaves to appear ragged and will have holes on the surface. Because of this, there will be restrictions in the flow of nutrients and photosynthetic activity. In the end, the leaves will turn yellow or brown. Aside from discoloration, they will also wilt. They will be more prone to diseases that could escalate the damage.
  • In the same way, the fruits will also show obvious signs of damage. They will have holes on the outer part. As it makes them susceptible to the entry of pathogens, there is a tendency that it will not just be unattractive, but will also rot. Some parts will appear softer than the others and can also discolor.
  • The fruit will also most likely suffer from deformation. In the case of berries, it is known as button berry. This is a result of killing the tissues and affecting the seeds before they reach full growth.

Results of Infestation

Recognized as one of the most damaging from the group of true bugs, expect that it will wreak serious damages to your plants. The infestation can be partial to severe depending on their feeding activity and how soon you act to manage their presence. Most of the effects will be cosmetic, although this will make the crops unmarketable. For commercial growers, this can lead to a huge economic loss.

Tarnished Plant Bug Damage

Tarnished Plant Bugs Wreak Serious Damages to Your Plants

How to Get Rid of Tarnished Plant Bugs

Natural and Organic Solutions

Control and elimination of tarnished plant bugs will be possible without the need to resort to toxic methods. With this, the following are some of the best solutions you might want to consider:

  • Sanitation is perhaps one of the best ways to deal with tarnished plant bugs. They overwinter under leaf litter and plant debris. With this, making the garden clean will make sure that they will not be able to find a suitable overwintering site. It will also be good to roto-till the ground to expose those that have been overwintering and to kill the eggs of the bugs even before they hatch.
  • Another simple solution that can prove to be effective is the use of floating row cover, although you need to remove it during pollination. When the flowers start to appear, take out the cover to attract insects. This works best for low growing plants. The covers, as much as possible, should be made from fine nets so that there will still be a way for the light coming from the sun to reach the plant. A garden fabric will also be effective in preventing adults from laying their eggs.
  • As with the case of many other pests, biological controls will also prove to be promising. You can consider releasing natural enemies in the ground or make the garden more attractive to encourage their presence. Parasitic wasps, insidious flower bugs, spined soldier bugs, and ladybeetles are just some of the most effective.
  • Not all sprays are harmful. Choose those that contain natural or biological ingredients. A garlic spray is one of the simplest, although this will work best only in the case of small-scale infestations. A mixture of kaolin and plant oil may also do the trick.
  • Growing the right plants is another solution that you should consider. As much as possible, focus on the cultivars or varieties that are resistant not only to tarnished plant bugs, but to other pests as well. Make sure as well to pay attention to the strategic placement of the crops or plants.

Chemical Solutions

There are many pesticides that are ideal for tarnished plant bugs. However, take note that these chemicals can contain ingredients that are toxic even for other insects, including those that are beneficial for the garden. Be sure to read the instructions and warnings from the manufacturer for its safe use. Proper application and adequate coverage are just some of the factors that will help in achieving a high level of effectiveness when using chemicals.

Some of the active ingredients that you have to look for in a chemical spray include permethrin, malathion, and carbaryl. To be specific, some of the products that you can use are Ambush, Torpedo, Nix, Karbofos, Celthion, and Sevin

Leave a Reply