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.

 Click image to enlarge
pirate bug Image courtesy of Texas A&M Horticulture
pirate bug Image courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Not much can be done about these nuisance pests. Insect repellents can be used and will probably offer some protection but not complete.

Remember that 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 soon enough!


Click here to view Hot News article, Department of Entomology (pdf file)

Link to other images of Insidious Flower Bugs


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