Subject: Bugs on privet hedge
September 28, 2014 6:27 am
Hi, we have an infestation on our privet hedges and originally thought it was a mould or fungus, however on closer inspection it appears to be an insect, they are less than 1mm long and are killing our hedges, the leaves turn sticky and black and then die and fall off leaving the privet bare – it does however seem to be re-sprouting, have attached some photos – any ideas what this is and how we can control it?
Signature: Thanks so much
Wow, we are totally stumped on this, though we believe we have narrowed the possibilities to two totally unrelated groups. First we should state that insects have three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae, and arachnids have four pairs of legs (five pairs if pedipalps are included). When we first viewed the thumbnails that are attached to emails we receive, it appeared that your creature had three antennae, but upon viewing the larger attachment, we cannot tell if we are looking at antennae or a fourth pair of legs. The body of these creatures resembles the body on many immature Hemipterans, which are classified as insects, but the first pair of appendages, has us confused. We cannot tell if the first pair of appendages is a pair of antennae or a pair of legs. If antennae, then we are relatively certain these are immature Hemipterans, possibly True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera. True Bugs have mouths designed to pierce and suck, and many species feed on plants, causing damage that might include leaf loss. Mites, which are Arachnids and which have four pairs of legs, might also cause damage to plants. Since you did not indicate any larger individuals, we are speculating that these are Mites as many species are quite small, especially since you indicate they are only about 1 mm in size. We are going to seek a more professional opinion on your request, and we are also going to feature your submission on our scrolling feature bar. We thought we might have gotten lucky when we learned there is a Privet Mite, Brevipalpus obovatus, but your individuals look nothing like those pictured on Doctor Optimara or those on the North Carolina University site.
Thanks for the response, I will see if I can get some more photos of them today and send them over.
Eric Eaton provides a category: Immature Hemipterans
Wow! These appear to be “crawlers,” the immature stage of some kind of scale insect (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha). Outstanding pics. If I get around to doing any more research on these (it is late Sunday night), I’ll pass along my findings. Knowing the food plant helps a good deal.