University of Maryland Extension

Lace bugs - Trees - Shubs

signs of lace bugs
Evidence of lace bugs on the back of serviceberry leaves

Lace bugs are small plant-feeding bugs. Most species are about 3/16 inch long when mature. 

Lace bugs on shade trees 

Sycamore, hawthorn, elm, walnut, oak, serviceberry (see above photo), willow, birch, hackberry, buckeye, cherry, and alder lace bugs. Lace bugs are named for their lace-like wings. The immatures or nymphs, lack wings and are usually spiny. Most lace bugs live on the lower surface of leaves and deposit their black eggs there.

lace bug leaf damage sycamore
Sycamore lace bug

Lace bugs pierce the leaf with long, slender mouth parts and suck out the cellular contents. Feeding damage first appears as white stippling or tiny white spots. These spots later merge and leaves turn yellow. Also look for black or brown fecal spots they deposit on the undersides of leaves. Severe infestations may cause premature leaf drop. 

Lace bugs on broadleaved shrubs

Lace bugs can attack andromeda (Pieris japonica), azalea, and rhododendron. As on trees, damage first appears as stippling or tiny white spots. These spots later merge, giving the leaves a bleached, white appearance.  The leaves then turn yellow or brown. Stressed broadleaved evergreen shrubs grown in full sun suffer the most damage from the insect. 

damaged azalea leaves
Azalea lacebug damage

Management

Begin monitoring for lace bugs in early May. Damage usually begins on older leaves and later on new growth. If damage is heavy and lace bugs are actively feeding, treatment may be necessary. Horticultural oil spray targeted to the underside of the leaves will help keep populations down. Check with your local garden center for currently registered insecticides. Always read label directions and follow safety precautions.

Additional Resource

Publication: (PDF) HG 95 Lace Bug

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