What's Hot at the PPDL
October 17, 2017
Insidious flower bug--ouch!
Timothy J. Gibb, Extension Entomologist, Purdue University
‘Big bite for
such a little bugger!’ pretty much describes the Insidious Flower Bug right now
in many areas of Indiana. These bugs became quite a nuisance the last week or
so of summer and are continuing into the fall. We expect them to continue until
we have a cold snap that will knock them off.
Insidious flower bugs
are slightly larger than the period at the end of this sentence, broadly oval
in shape, and black with whitish or silver markings on the back. Under
magnification they look a lot like chinch bugs. Insidious flower bugs can fly
and often make their way through window screens to provide equal irritation to
people inside homes as outside. Why they bite is still a bit of a mystery.
However, we do know that they bite when it is warm out and usually bite people
who are perspiring slightly. They do not take blood or inject any saliva - so
in most cases, their bite is not particularly serious to most people. However,
it is certainly annoying especially considering the small size of these bugs.
Some people react more to the bite than others and may experience localized
swelling in the area of the bite much like a mosquito bite. Others experience
the pain but see not reactions at all.
Not much can be
done about these nuisance pests. Insect repellents can be used and will
probably offer some protection but not complete.
during the majority of the year, insidious flower bugs are beneficial predators
because they feeding on small insects and mites or on their eggs. (Spider mites
and thrips are particularly attractive to these bugs). For that reason, general
insecticides should not be used against these insects.
The bugs often
probe into leaf tissue to lay eggs and often go through many generations of 3-4
weeks in a season. For now, have patience and a thick skin. They will be gone
Click here to view Hot News article, Department of Entomology (pdf file)
Link to other images of Insidious Flower Bugs