I’ve been getting email and calls about small “stink bugs” on cruciferous crops lately. I went out to our demonstration garden to see if I could rustle some up on what we have planted out there and I hit the jackpot. I found Lygus bugs on the cabbage and some other plants (that I have no idea what they are…I went back out to look- they’re fava beans).
Lygus bugs have a wide host range and have been found on over 350 plants. These bugs commonly begin the year in weedy areas and then move into adjacent areas (leading them into gardens and landscapes) when the weeds begin to decline.
Adults are about 1/4 of an inch long and come in a variety of colors (the ones I’ve been seeing are brownish-black with red dots on the tip of the hemelytra). They have whitish markings behind the head and on the wings. The back half of the front wing is held downward at an angle (so it appears that the bug backed into a wall). Nymphs look similar to the adults, but are usually a yellow-green in color and lack fully developed wings.
Weed management is very important to help keep populations of tarnished plant bug in check. Manage weeds to keep the bugs from colonizing areas adjacent to gardens and landscape areas. You can try vacuuming them up with a hand-held vacuum. Pesticides can be used to knock down heavy populations. Look for active ingredients such as insecticidal soap, azadirachtin, pyrethrins, or pyrethroids.