Four-Lined Plant Bug

2015 November 14

Sandy found this little green bug with black stripes in her basil patch on July 19, 2015. When she brought it in, it kept flying away from me until it ended up on the window, so I took the pictures there. It probably would have been a lot better camouflaged in the grass than on our white window frame.

This is distinctively colored, with those stark black stripes, and I’m pretty sure it is a Four-Lined Plant Bug, Poecilocapsus lineatus. Although, they are supposed to have a reddish-orange head, and this one has a mostly green head.

They live on plant juices, and can get pretty numerous in gardens. They also aren’t very discriminating feeders, going after a wide variety of herbs and vegetables.

The nymphs are red, turning to green as they mature. Luckily, these bugs have to be extremely numerous before they do more than cosmetic damage to plants. The damage they cause resembles a fungus infection (‘leaf-spot disease’) more than insect feeding. The general recommendation is to ignore them and let the predators deal with them rather than spraying. And if they seem to be getting more plentiful year-to-year, try pulling up and composting the remains of your garden plants in the fall, because they lay eggs in the plants to overwinter them.

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