Common Name: Azalea lace bug
Scientific Name: Stephanitis pyriodes
Description: The adult is about 1/8 inch long, with lacy, clear wings marked with brown to black patterns. Nymphs are clear when young, growing darker until they are black with spines along the edges of their bodies.
Life Cycle: Winter is spent in the egg stage. Beginning in February, nymphs hatch from eggs in about 2 weeks and develop through five stages (instars) before becoming adults. Adults mate and disperse. Over a period of several weeks, female lace bugs lay smooth, white eggs in the tissue of the underside of leaves, often along a large leaf vein. Nymphs of all stages can occur together because of the extended egg laying period of the female. Two or more generations are produced per year, with periods of high nymphal numbers occurring from March through May and from July through September. Eggs deposited in leaves from September through October hatch the following spring.
Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Evergreen varieties of azalea are preferred, although deciduous varieties and mountain laurel are also host plants. Nymphal and adult stages of the lace bug occur on the underside of leaves. They injure leaves by sucking juices from the undersurface leaves, resulting in yellowish to brownish spotting on the upper surface. Severely injured leaves drop from the plant. Nymphs usually occur in groups and are associated with cast skins from previous stages (instars). Fecal material, appearing as tarry, shiny black specks are apparent on infested leaves.
Pest Status: Nymphs and adults injure leaves on azalea and mountain laurel; medically harmless.
Management: See Insect, Mite & Related Pest Suppression Products
Literature: Carter et al. 1980.