Gum Tree Bug: All You Need to Know for a Healthy Garden

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Gum trees are susceptible to various pests, including the Gum Tree Bug. These insects can cause damage to the tree, affecting its health and appearance. A better understanding of the Gum Tree Bug and ways to manage its infestation can help preserve the beauty of these trees.

The Gum Tree Bug is known for attacking different species of gum trees, such as the Black Gum and the Sweet Gum. These bugs can cause damage to the leaves and branches, making it essential to identify them early on and implement appropriate control measures.

Gum Tree Bug Overview

Common Species

Gum tree bugs are a variety of insects that infest gum trees, causing damage and stress to the tree. Some common species include:

  • Potato leafhoppers: These small, pale green, and wedge-shaped pests attack not only gum trees but also agricultural crops and other tree species like apple, ash, birch, and more University of Kentucky.

Life Cycle

Gum tree bugs go through several stages in their life cycle:

  1. Eggs: Female insects lay their eggs on the leaves or bark of the gum tree.
  2. Nymphs: The eggs hatch into nymphs, immature insects that resemble small adults.
  3. Larvae: Some insects, like caterpillars, have a larval stage that typically feeds on the leaves and foliage of gum trees.
  4. Adults: The nymphs and larvae develop into adult insects that continue to feed on gum tree leaves, bark, and other plant tissues.

Comparison Table

Gum Tree Bug Stage Description
Eggs Laid on leaves or bark, often in clusters
Nymphs Smaller versions of adult insects, highly mobile
Larvae Worm-like caterpillars that consume leaves and foliage
Adults Fully developed or grown insects that feed on plant tissues

*Note: The stages may vary slightly depending on the specific insect species.

Despite their damage to gum trees, these bugs also have some positive aspects:


  • Can be controlled with natural or chemical methods
  • Play a role in the ecosystem, providing food for birds and other predators


  • Cause damage to the tree, leading to weakened health and potential tree death if not managed
  • Some species may spread plant diseases or create further vulnerabilities for the tree

In summary, gum tree bugs are various insects that infest gum trees, causing damage to the foliage and overall tree health. These bugs have a life cycle that includes eggs, nymphs, larvae, and adults. Understanding the species and life cycle of gum tree bugs can help inform management strategies for dealing with these pests.

Habitat And Behavior

Feeding Habits

Gum tree bugs, also known as potato leafhoppers, are primarily found in gum tree forests. They feed on the sap of these trees in order to survive. The feeding habits of the gum tree bug include:

  • Targeting the young leaves of the tree, where the sap is more abundant
  • Creating small tunnels in the bark to extract sap more efficiently

Communication And Mating

Gum tree bugs communicate with each other through the use of light signals. Some key aspects of their communication and mating behavior are:

  • Emitting short flashes of light to attract mates
  • Forming clusters or collections of bugs for communal activities, such as mating
Feature Gum Tree Bug
Habitat Gum tree forests
Primary Food Source Gum tree sap
Communication Method Light signals
Typical Mating Behavior Forming clusters or collections of bugs, using light signals to attract mates

Characteristics of gum tree bugs:

  • Wedge-shaped
  • Pale green
  • Approximately 1/8 inch long
  • Adapt at tunneling in tree bark
  • Highly sociable with other gum tree bugs

Impact On Trees And Forests

Common Tree Diseases

Gum trees, which include Eucalyptus, Angophora, and Corymbia species, can be affected by various tree diseases caused by bacteria and fungi. Some common tree diseases include:

  • Gall: Abnormal growths on leaves and stems.
  • Canker: Sunken, dead areas on branches.
  • Leaf spot: Small discolored spots on leaves.

In many cases, these diseases can be managed by using the appropriate fungicides and tree care practices. For instance, proper pruning by a professional tree service can help prevent the spread of bacteria and fungi to healthy parts of the tree.

Invasive Species

Invasive species, such as certain insects and pathogens, can cause significant damage to gum trees and forests. These invaders can disrupt ecosystems, lead to the decline of native species, and affect hardwood production.

Examples of invasive species in gum tree forests include:

  • Xylella fastidiosa: A bacteria that causes leaf scorch.
  • Phytophthora ramorum: A fungus responsible for sudden oak death.

When managing invasive species, early detection and control measures are essential in limiting their impact. These measures may involve the use of biological controls, quarantine regulations, and public awareness campaigns.

Disease/Invasive Species Cause Effects on Trees Treatment/Control Methods
Gall Bacteria Abnormal growths on leaves and stems Pruning, sanitation
Canker Fungi Sunken, dead areas on branches Pruning, fungicides
Leaf spot Fungi Small discolored spots on leaves Fungicides, proper tree care
Xylella fastidiosa Invasive bacteria Leaf scorch Early detection, quarantine, biological control
Phytophthora ramorum Invasive fungi Sudden oak death Early detection, quarantine, biological control

Identifying And Managing Gum Tree Bugs

Physical Characteristics

Gum tree bugs include various species that infest gum trees. Some common examples are:

  • Scribbly Gum Moth: These larvae create distinctive scribble-like patterns on the bark.
  • Bagworms: Larvae build small, bag-like structures with surrounding materials.

Physical attributes of gum tree bugs include dark brown or bright red coloration.

Prevention And Control

Below are the methods to prevent and control gum tree bugs on both sweetgum and other gum trees:

  • Keep the area around the tree clean by removing litter and debris.
  • Introduce natural predators to control the bug population.
  • Use tree-friendly insecticides to target specific pests.

Sweet Gum Trees versus Commercial Hardwood Trees:

Trees Taste Smell Oils
Sweet Gum Not usually reported Sweet, aromatic Contain resinous oils
Commercial Hardwood Varies by species Varies by species Some contain oils

When managing gum tree bugs, understanding the species’ specific characteristics and habits helps effectively target prevention and control efforts.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Immature Gum Tree Bug


orange , black and blue insect please help
Could you please tell me what this insect is a Gum tree fell over and there were about 200 or so on the branchesand leaves we moved as many as possible to the same type of tree but we have 6 kids who would like to know what this insect is ???
Kerrie & Nina Matthews
Sydney NSW Australia

Hi Kerrie and Nina,
Coincidentally, you practically identified your insect yourself. Often common names refer to the host plant. This is a Gum Tree Bug or Eucalyptus Tip Bug, Amorbus obscuricornis and we located it on the Geocities Website. Your insect is a wingless nymph that will become a winged adult. Nymphs are much more colorful than adults.

Letter 2 – Immature Gum Tree Bugs


Unidentified Australian Beetle
Congratulations on you site. I have searched through all 17 Beetle volumes and have not found anything like the enclosed images. The photographs were taken in foothills (about 1000 ft above sea level) about 30 miles from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I was on an excursion with some Field Naturalists who call the beetle an ‘Assassin bug’. However, it seems to be different from Gminatus australis, and I have been unable to identify it even though it is not uncommon in the area. The body of the bug is about 1 inch long. I would very much appreciate any information you may have.
Dr David G Hewitt

Hi Dr Hewitt,
Though the field naturalists who told you this was an Assassin Bug were mistaken, they at least had the order correct. These are immature Coreid Bugs, a family known as Leaf Footed Bugs or Big Legged Bugs, not Beetles. We did some research on the GeoCities website and found two matches in the same genus with slightly different information. Both are commonly called Gum Tree Bugs. The first is Amorbus obscuricornis, also called the Eucalyptus Tip Bug. A second page on the GeoCities site is devoted to the genus Amorbus generally, and refers to the members as Clown Bugs, Gum Tree Bugs, Sap Sucking Bugs or Squash Bugs, as well as the even more generic Coreid Bugs. Back in December, we received other images of Immature Gum Tree Bugs and the coloration is slightly different than in your photos.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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