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Publication #ENY-332

Lace Bugs on Ornamental Plants 1

Eileen A. Buss and Jay Cee Turner2

At least 17 species of lace bugs (Hemiptera: Tingidae) are pests of trees and shrubs in the eastern United States. Most lace bug species have a limited host range and may attack only a handful of plant species. Plants that are commonly attacked include azalea, hawthorn, lantana, oak, pyracantha and sycamore.

Biology and Behavior

Lace bugs (Figure 1) are small insects, 1/4 to 1/8 inch long, broad, flattened and somewhat rectangular in shape. Their bodies are usually brown or black, but their wings are partially transparent and lace-like. Nymphs (Figure 2) are blackish in color, wingless, and have many small spines projecting from their body.

Figure 1. 

Azalea lace bug adult

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 2. 

Lace bug nymphs

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 3. 

Lace bug damage on azalea

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Detecting Infestations

Lace bugs damage plants by inserting their piercing-sucking mouthparts into the underside of leaves and withdrawing chlorophyll and other plant fluids. The upper surface of lightly-infested leaves has a white-dotted, or stippled appearance (Figure 3). Heavy infestations cause leaves to brown and drop prematurely, which reduces growth or kills the plant.

Examine your plants weekly during the spring, summer, and fall. Turn a few leaves over and look for lace bugs with a 10 to 15 power hand lens or shake an infested branch over a white sheet of paper. The insects will fall off and may be more easily seen than on the foliage. The brown spots and stippling may remain on leaves even after lace bugs have been reduced.

Cultural Control

Choose varieties or species of plants that are resistant to lace bugs or better tolerate damage.

Establish plants according to their growth patterns, keep them healthy, and well-watered.

Thoroughly spray infested plants with a high-pressure stream of water. But, this approach may only knock the insects off the plants, rather than kill them.

Biological Control

Very few beneficial insects specialize on lace bugs. However, generalist predators, such as green lacewings, may attack lace bug nymphs and adults. Lace bugs may also be infected by diseases.

Chemical Control

If more than 15% of the foliage is damaged, then an insecticide application is suggested (Table 1). Insecticidal soaps (e.g., Safer Soap, M-pede) are often a first line of defense against soft-bodied insects. In general, spray plants to run-off or until leaves (top and bottom) are thoroughly wet (check the label for application instructions). Continue to inspect the plants periodically and apply an insecticide if plants become re-infested. Soil treatments with systemics may be somewhat slower than contact insecticides, but are usually effective for longer.

For More Information

Avocado lace bug, EENY-039 (
Azalea lace bug, EENY-373 (
Hawthorn lace bug, EENY-080 (
Lantana lace bug, EENY-246 (
Sugarcane lace bug, EENY-044 (
Sycamore lace bug, EENY-190 (


( [4 September 2012]


Table 1. 

Active ingredient

Chemical class

Retail/homeowner product examples

Professional product



•Bonide Systemic Insect Control

•Acephate Pro 75

•Orthene Turf, Tree & Ornamental Spray







•Ortho Bug-B-Gon Max Lawn & Garden Insect Killer •Talstar



•GardenTech Sevin

•Sevin SL

•Sevin 80 WSP







•Bayer Advanced Rose & Flower Insect Killer

•Bayer Advanced Power Force Multi-insect Killer

•Schultz Lawn & Garden Insect Killer

•Bayer Advanced Power

•Force Multi-Insect Killer


Cyfluthrin + Imidacloprid

Pyrethroid + Neonicotinoid









•Green Light Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Safari 2G •Safari




Advanced Garden 2-in1 Systemic Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Care





•Tame 2.4 EC Spray**

Fish Oil




Horticultural oil



•Sunspray Ultra Fine Oil




•Bayer Advanced Lawn Complete Insect Killer

•Bayer Advanced 12 Month Garden Tree & Shrub Insect Control

•Bayer Advanced 2 in 1 Systemic Rose & Flower Care

•Ortho Max Tree & Shrub Insect Control Ready to Spray









•Spectracide Triazicide Once & Done Insect Killer

•Demand CS

•Scimitar GS



•Hi-Yield 55% Malathion Spray

•Southern Ag 5% Malathion Dust

•Southern Ag Malathion 50% E.C.

•Malathion 8


•Ortho Bug-B-Gon Max Garden Insect Dust


•Permethrin Pro Termite-Turf Ornamental

Potassium salts

Insecticidal soap

•Bayer Advanced Natria Insecticidal Soap •Insecticidal Soap M-pede



•Maxide Dual Action Insect Killer



* EC=Emulsifiable concentrate; F=Water-dispersible liquid; G=Granule; SC=Water-soluble liquid; SL=Water-soluble liquid; WP= Wettable powder; WSP=Water-soluble powder

** Restricted use product.

•Note: Only a few formulations of recommended insecticides are listed to serve as examples. Others may be available. Read the label carefully for use directions, application techniques, irrigation requirements and precautions.



This document is ENY-332 (MG326), one of a series of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Date first printed October 1993. Revised: October 2010. Please visit the EDIS Website at


Eileen A. Buss, associate professor and Jay Cee Turner, biological scientist, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication does not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition. All chemicals should be used in accordance with directions on the manufacturer's label. Use pesticides safely. Read and follow directions on the manufacturer's label.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.