Tarnished Plant Bug’s Impact in Alabama Strawberries

Clint ThompsonAlabama, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

Tarnished plant bugs have impacted Alabama’s strawberry crop this season. Growers’ success in managing the pest in the future will depend on scouting, says David Lawrence, regional Extension agent in central Alabama.

Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) (Palisot de Beauvois). Photo credit: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

“Especially the growers that have seen them this year, they need to mark that date on their calendars of when they saw it, and the few weeks leading up to that, be out there every day looking,” Lawrence said. “As soon as you see one, it’s time to spray. That’s pretty much what the threshold is.”

Tarnished plant bugs feed on the flowers and seeds of immature strawberry fruit as well as other crops and native plants. Nymphs appear green in color, while adults have a brown coloration with mottled, brown wings.

If the tarnished plant bugs feed on the seeds of immature strawberries, it will lead to misshapen fruit, often at the tip. The fruit is usually rendered unmarketable.

“We’ve had a few growers deal with them the last couple of years. I’ve really seen a flush of them this year. I had several growers contact me and I went out and that’s just about what it was everywhere I went. We suspected that’s what it was, and we got out there and sure enough that’s what it was,” Lawrence said.

“Shaking the plants you can see the little nymphs running around. Some of the growers that were looking for it, they had a good gameplan, it just snuck up on them. They were seeing the damage, and by the time you see the damage, it’s too late. Getting out there and scouting before you see damage, scouting for those insects is key to that pest.”

Source: Alabama Extension