Sugarcane Lace Bug, Leptodictya tabida1

Ru Nguyen and David G. Hall 2


The sugarcane lace bug was first described by Herrich-Schaeffer as Monanthia tabida from specimens collected in Mexico in 1839 and synonymized as Leptodictya tabida (Herrich- Schaeffer) by Champion in 1900 (Heidemann 1913). It was discovered on sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum L. in Palm Beach County, Florida, in July, 1990. A survey conducted shortly after the discovery of this pest in Florida showed that many sugarcane fields in Palm Beach, Hendry and Collier counties were infested with L. tabida. Several hundred acres of sugarcane in Palm Beach County displayed red russeting, with more than 100 adults and nymphs of L. tabida found on some leaves (Hall 1990, 1991). This insect could become a major pest of sugarcane in Florida, perhaps more so during dry years.

Figure 1. Sugarcane russeted by the the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich-Schaeffer).
Figure 1.  Sugarcane russeted by the the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich-Schaeffer).
Credit: Division of Plant Industry


The sugarcane lace bug occurs in numerous countries including Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, and the United States (Hawaii, Texas, and Florida) (Chang and Ota 1986; Hall 1991; and Metcalfe 1966).


Adult oblong, flat, length 3.8 mm, width across the widest part of elytra 1.6 mm. Head short with five slender spines. Eyes small, globular, reddish and strongly faceted. Antennae yellowish, long and thin. Pronotum narrowed anteriorly, the disk barely convex, with three linear, low carinae, interspaces finely punctured. The elytra are transparent, elongate oval in shape, and extend far beyond the abdomen.

Figure 2. Adult and nymph of the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich- Schaeffer).
Figure 2.  Adult and nymph of the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich- Schaeffer).
Credit: Division of Plant Industry

The nymph is different from adult in appearance. The nymph is oblong, rather flat, yellowish and densely covered with erect white spinules (Heidemann 1913).

Figure 3. A colony of sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich- Schaeffer), nymphs on a sugarcane leaf.
Figure 3.  A colony of sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich- Schaeffer), nymphs on a sugarcane leaf.
Credit: Division of Plant Industry

Biology and Host Plants

This lace bug completes a generation from egg to adult in 20 to 30 days during the summer in Hawaii (Chang 1985). Under laboratory conditions of 27°C in Gainesville, Florida, the egg stage lasted 16 to 20 days. The nymphs molt five times and mature in about 15 days. Eggs are very small and are deposited into paraenchyma cells on the underside of the leaf (Chang 1985). According to Chang 1985, the sugarcane lace bug has been reported on corn, Zea mays L.; Guinea grass, Panicum maximum Jacq.; Johnson grass, Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.; barnyard grass, Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauvois; bamboo; sugarcane, S. officinarum and teosinte, Zea mexicana (Schrad.) Kuntze.

Figure 4. Eggs of the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich-Schaeffer).
Figure 4.  Eggs of the sugarcane lace bug, Leptodictya tabida (Herrich-Schaeffer).
Credit: Division of Plant Industry

Natural Enemies

Natural enemies of L. tabida have not been intensively studied and only Coleomegilla maculata (DeGeer) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) was listed as its predator (Chang 1985). During a trip to Central and South America in 1986, Hawaii Department of Agriculture Entomologist, Marianna Early, found eggs of L. tabida were parasitized by Erythmelus sp. in Costa Rica and Venezuela (M. Early, unpublished report 1986). An attempt to introduce this parasite from Venezuela to Florida was done by F.D. Bennett, D.G. Hall and Ru Nguyen in May 1991. However, it was not successful. The F1 generation was produced in the Quarantine Laboratory in Gainesville but no F2 progeny were obtained.

Selected References

Chang, V.C.S. 1985. The sugarcane lace bug: a new insect pest in Hawaii. Ann. Conf. Report, Hawaiian Sugar Technol. 44: A27–A29.

Chang, V.C.S., and A.K. Ota. 1986. The sugarcane lacebug. Exp. Sta. Ann. Report, Hawaiian Sugar Planter's Assoc.: 24–26.

Early, M. 1986. Report on an exploratory trip to Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela and Brazil. February 10–April 22, 1986. Hawaii Dept. Agr. unpubl. report. 21 pp.

Hall, O.G. 1990. The sugarcane lace bug, an insect pest new to Florida. Sugar J. 53: 10–11.

Hall, D.G. 1991. Sugarcane lace bug Leptodictya tabida, an insect pest new to Florida. Fla. Entomol. 74: 148–149.

Heidemann, O. 1913. The sugar-cane tingid from Mexico. J. Econ. Entomol. 6: 249–251.

Metcalfe, J.R. 1966. Report on a visit to study canefly (Saccharosydne saccharivora) (Westw.) in British Honduras, 14th April to 3rd May, 1966. Tech. Bull. Sug. Mfrs. Asso. Jamaica Entomol. No. 2/66, 9 pp. Abstract in Rev. Appl. Entomol., Ser. A. 56: 1399.


1. This document is EENY-044, one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 1998. Revised March 2008. Reviewed April 2018. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Ru Nguyen, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry; and David G. Hall, US Sugar Corporation; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.