Houseplant Bugs: Insects that Infect Common Indoor Plants

Houseplants not only add life and color to our living spaces but also help purify the air. However, they sometimes come with an unwanted side effect: pesky bugs. In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about common houseplant insects and how to manage them, ensuring your plants remain healthy and beautiful.

One common issue that plant owners face is the presence of tiny insects such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. These critters can hinder the growth and overall health of your beloved plants. Fortunately, there are various ways to address these problems without resorting to harmful chemicals. For example, wiping the bugs off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or using water sprays can help remove these pests effectively.

Another concern for houseplant enthusiasts is the appearance of fungus gnats around your plants. These tiny, dark-colored flies are typically attracted to overwatered houseplants, and although they cause minimal damage, they can become a nuisance when present in large numbers. To manage these gnats, it’s essential to take proper care of your plants and avoid creating the conditions they thrive in, such as excess moisture and overwatering.

Common Houseplant Bugs

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged creatures that feed on houseplants by sucking the plant’s juices. These pests can cause leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Some possible ways to control spider mites include:

  • Use insecticidal soap.
  • Introduce predatory mites such as Phytoseiulus persimilis.

Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap, causing leaves to curl and stunt growth. To manage them, you may:

  • Use a stream of water to remove them from your plants.
  • Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, slow-moving insects covered with a white, waxy substance. They can cause leaves to yellow and drop. To control these pests:

  • Wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny, white-winged insects that feed on plant sap, causing leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Some control measures include:

  • Yellow sticky traps to catch adults.
  • Insecticidal soap or neem oil for nymphs.

Scale Insects

Scale insects are small, armored bugs that feed on plant sap. They cause yellowing of leaves and may even kill the plant. To manage scales:

  • Scrape them off with a toothbrush or fingernail.
  • Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil on crawlers.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are small, dark-winged flies often found around overwatered houseplants. Their larvae can cause plant damage. To control these pests:

  • Let the soil dry out between waterings.
  • Use yellow sticky traps to catch adults.

Thrips

Thrips are slender, tiny insects that feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits, causing discoloration, distortion, and leaf drop. Management options include:

  • Prune and discard infested plant parts.
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Ants

Ants may not directly harm houseplants, but they can protect aphids and other sap-feeding insects that are harmful to plants. To control ants:

  • Remove food sources attracting them.
  • Place ant baits near infested areas to trap them.

Characteristics of Common Houseplant Bugs

Bug Color Size Characteristics
Spider Mites Reddish Tiny Web-like silk
Aphids Green Small Oval-shaped
Mealybugs White Small Waxy substance
Whiteflies White Tiny White wings
Scale Brown Small Armored covering
Fungus Gnats Dark Small Weak fliers
Thrips Brown Tiny Slender
Ants Black Small Social insects

Methods such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and neem oil can provide effective control for many houseplant bugs, but it’s essential to identify the specific pest and choose the proper treatment for the best results.

Preventing Houseplant Bug Infestations

Plant Inspection

  • Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests.
  • Look for discolored or damaged leaves, sticky residue, or visible bugs.

Regularly checking your plants for signs of infestation is a crucial step in preventing houseplant bugs. Inspect the leaves and stems for any discoloration, damage, or residue, which may indicate the presence of pests like aphids, mealybugs, or scale insects.

Proper Care and Maintenance

  • Provide the right amount of water, light, and fertilizer.
  • Prune and clean plants regularly.

Proper care and maintenance can help keep your plants healthy and less susceptible to pest infestations. Ensure they receive the appropriate amount of water, light, and fertilizer as per their specific requirements. Regularly cleaning and pruning your plants can also promote better growth and deter pests.

Quarantine New Plants

  • Isolate new plants for 1-2 weeks.
  • Check for pests during this time.

Before introducing new plants to your existing collection, it’s important to quarantine them for one to two weeks. Monitor them closely for any signs of pests, and treat them as necessary before placing them alongside your other houseplants.

Natural Methods

Beneficial insects

  • Introduce predatory insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, to control pests.

Pest-control plants

  • Place companion plants, like marigolds and basil, near your houseplants to deter pests.

There are several natural methods for preventing houseplant bug infestations. You can introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which are natural predators and can be effective in controlling pests. Additionally, you can use pest-control plants, like marigolds and basil, as companion plants to help deter pests from infesting your houseplants.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com 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 – Yucca Plant Bugs

 

Yucca plant bugs
Location:  North Middle Tennessee
October 13, 2010 5:22 pm
Hi Daniel,
I ran across these little fellows this afternoon. Almost gave up on identifying them but I did a search for ”yucca plant bugs” as they were on a yucca plant. Didn’t know their was such a critter but that seems to be what they are. Thanks for all you do and have a great day.
Signature:  Richard

Yucca Plant Bugs

Hi Richard,
This is a new species for our website, and we had not heard of the Yucca Plant Bugs,
Halticotoma valida, in the family Miridae prior to your email.  We verified your identification on BugGuide.

Yucca Plant Bugs

Letter 2 – Unknown Plant Bug from Canada

 

Subject: Red and black bug
Location: Coote Island, Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada
October 4, 2012 10:15 pm
Hello!
Thanks for running this great website – I use it a lot to help identify bugs I’ve found!
I’ve attached pictures of one that currently has me stumped. I found it in July on an island in Georgian Bay (near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada). It’s colours were very striking red and black. I can’t find it in my Kaufman field guide or online so far. If you could help, that would be great!
Thanks
Signature: Kristin

Plant Bug

Hi Kristin,
We believe we have identified this striking insect as a Plant Bug in the family Miridae and the tribe Resthenini based on this photo on BugGuide.  Alas, we are not able to provide a species identification but it does appear to us to be a predatory species.

Plant Bug

Wow! Thank you for your quick response! The pictures match up very well. Thanks again!
Kristin

 

Letter 3 – Heteropteran Nymphs resemble Red Light Bulbs

 

Red round insects

Red Light Bulbs and a Paper Wasp Wing

Subject: Red round insects
Location: Austin, Texas
February 6, 2011 9:43 pm
Hi bugman, this is the second time I have seen these tiny, tiny red bugs. They look like small red light bulbs?
Any thoughts, I have looked on-line and still cannot seem to find a match.
Hope you can help.
ESP.
Signature: East Side Patch

Heteropteran Nymphs Scavenging a Paper Wasp Carcass

Dear East Side Patch,
We found a very similar looking Heteropteran Nymph on BugGuide that is identified as a
Largus species or Bordered Plant Bug.  We located another photo on BugGuide of an later instar nymph of Largus californicus, which should be called the California Bordered Bug (though it is also reported from Texas on BugGuide). Many phytophagous Heteropterans or True Bugs scavenge dead insects in their immature stages.  The biggest difference we notice between your Heteropteran Nymphs and the Largus nymphs on BugGuide is that your species has longer, striped antennae.

Thank you so much for these!
This one has had me puzzled for quite some time!
Philip.

Letter 4 – Red Eyes Bug Nymphs from Australia

 

Subject: What are these
Location: Byron bay australia
November 12, 2014 11:24 pm
These guys are absolutely everywhere in my garden. What are they?
Signature: Rob

Immature Red Eyes Bugs
Immature Red Eyes Bugs

Dear Rob,
We believe we have identified this aggregation as a group of immature Red Eyes Bugs,
Leptocoris tagalicus, that includes one winged adult, the lowest individual in the image.  We matched your image to images posted on the Brisbane Insect website where it states:  “The bug can be found on different type of plants. From the reference information, bugs in genus Leptocoris are seed predators of plants in family Sapindaceae. They are also known as Soapberry Bugs. This bug is common in Brisbane garden and backyards. They feed on plant seeds. Usually they do not do noticeable harm to the host plant. “

Thanks Daniel, I think that’s the one.
Rob

Letter 5 – Mediterranean Seed Bug

 

What bug is this?
Location: California, USA
November 25, 2010 5:32 pm
This bug looks kinda transparent but with black triangles and shapes on its back. What bug is this?
Signature: Kelsey

Mediterranean Seed Bug

Dear Kelsey,
After three days of searching BugGuide under True Bugs, we are ready to admit defeat.  We cannot identify your True Bug, but we suspect it is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, a family with countless individual species represented on BugGuide, but we could find no visual match.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck scouring the internet.  We wish you had provided additional information, like perhaps “This bug is swarming our elm tree” or “We cannot understand why there are several of these bugs in our kitchen each morning”, but alas, you gave us nothing to work with, and California is a very large state.

Hi, Daniel:
Your insect is a “Mediterranean Seed Bug:”
http://bugguide.net/node/view/102853
Easy to get all those non-descript heteropterans confused, believe me.
Eric

Letter 6 – Plant Bugs from the UK

 

Mystery insect
Location: NorthWest England
February 5, 2011 9:14 am
Hi
For the past 2 summers I have had a mystery pest attack my foxgloves, crocosmia and snapdragons and they are slowing spreading to more parts of the garden. They can fly and they move very quickly when disturbed. I’ve looked on lots of pest identifying websites but can’t find out what they are.
Signature: Charlotte Haynes

Plant Bug

Hi Charlotte,
These are Plant Bugs in the family Miridae.  Once we did a web search with the family and your location, we quickly identified your particular Plant Bugs as
Grypocoris stysi on the British Bugs website which states:  “The adults and larvae feed on both flower heads as well as small invertebrates such as aphids.”  Foxgloves are not listed as a food plant which are listed as “nettles in woodland, and sometimes umbellifers and white bryony.

Hi Daniel
That’s great. I was spending ages looking through pictures trying to figure out what they were.
Many thanks
Charlotte

Letter 7 – Mirid Plant Bug on Cannabis

 

Subject:  Strange fly with funky antenna and cricket legs
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 07/20/2019
Time: 10:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this little bug?
Can’t identify it in any list of insects in southern California
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks

Mirid Plant Bug on Cannabis

This is not a Fly. It is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, but we are not certain of the species. We are currently having problems searching BugGuide, our go-to site for North American sightings, but we know from the past that many members of this family are predators and some feed on plants.  There many species of Mirid Plant Bugs pictured on The Natural History of Orange County, and the one that looks most like your individual to us is Dicyphus hesperus, and according to the Natural History of Orange County:  “Dicyphus hesperus is widely distributed over North America. It is a predator on pest insects including many species of whitefly, aphids, lepidopterans and mites. It is therefore used all over the world for control of pests on greenhouse and field vegetable crops. It has been especially successful for control of whitefly on greenhouse tomato crops.”  We also did a web search with the key words “Miridae” and “Cannabis” and we located this Wikipedia page on the Potato Capsid, Closterotomus norvegicus, which states:  “It can be found feeding on nettle, clover, and cannabis, as well as Compositae, potatoes, carrots and chrysanthemums. They prefer to feed on the flowers, buds and unripe fruit.”  The same claim about the Potato Capsid and Cannabis is also posted on Photos of Insects in Cambridge.  According to Cannabis Pests by J.M. McPartland:  ” True bugs, like the Homopterans (aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies), have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on plant sap.   They feed predominately on leaves, but also suck on stems, flowering tops, and unripe seeds.  Bugs, unlike most Homopterans, are outdoor problems.  The southern green stink bug (Nezara viridula) feeds on marijuana in India (Cherian 1932), hemp leaves in Europe (Sorauer 1958) and hemp seeds in the USA (Hartowicz et al. 1971).  Other examples include the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris), false chinch bug (Nysius ericae), and potato bug (Calocoris norvegicus). Liocoris tripustulatus has become an emergent pest in the Netherlands, where it feeds on pollen.”  It is our observation that plant feeding True Bugs tend to aggregate while predators tend to hunt solo.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to confirm this identification.  We are sorry we cannot say for certain if this is a predator or a plant feeding species.

Letter 8 – Adelphocoris Plant Bug

 

Bug query
I found this lovely bug in the gaden today, there are lots of them under a hawthorn hedge. Any idea?
Love the site
Geoff Dagger

Hi Geoff,
Even though you are across the pond and I’m not always sure of the British bugs, I would venture a pretty sure guess that this is one of the Adelphocoris Plant Bugs, and most definitely one of the Family Miridae. These are soft bodied insects that are pests in the garden. The genus Adelphocoris is marked with green, orange-red, yellowish brown and black in bold patterns or stripes. It is found in crops, pastures and gardens.

Letter 9 – Garden Fleahopper

 

Black insects on green bean plants
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
May 7, 2012 7:45 pm
Hello! I’m wondering if you could tell me what these little black beetle-like insects are that are sucking the juices from my bean leaves.
Thanks!
Signature: Just Dave

Garden Fleahopper (female we presume)

Hi Dave,
Our first impression was that you might have Flea Beetles, but the antennae are wrong for a beetle.  After a bit of searching through the True Bugs, insects with piercing and sucking mouthparts, we found the Garden Fleahopper,
Halticus bractatus, by browsing through BugGuide where it is described as:  “Minute, black; antennomere 1 and often the middle of the second and the base of the third pale; patches of silvery scale-like hairs on the front wing. Sexes strongly dimorphic, females having the wings entirely thickened and ovoid so that they resemble small flea beetles, while the males have long normally constructed wings.”  Garden Fleahoppers are classified as Plant Bugs in the family Miridae.

Garden Fleahopper (male we presume)

Letter 10 – Immature Tea Bug, we believe

 

Subject: Singapore Green slow moving insect
Location: Singapore
December 17, 2012 5:46 am
Hi. Haven’t been able to identify this little fella. He was moving very gingerly from one leaf to another. Also can you tell me what is that vertical appendage on its back? I have seen something similar on a Helopeltis Theivora (Plant Bug). Maybe they’re related.
Signature: David

Probably Tea Bug Nymph

Dear David,
This is an immature True Bug or Hemipteran.  We could not recall
Helopeltis theivora, so we researched it.  We found a nice image on FlickR that shows the unusual appendage on the insect’s back.  That feature as well as the very long antennae are strong evidence that this is an immature Helopeltis theivora.  Additional research led us to Discover Life that provides the taxonomy that the species is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae.  Interestingly, we do have some images in our archive, also from Singapore, of Helopeltis theivora, though we didn’t remember that posting from just over a year ago.

Letter 11 – Unknown True Bug is British Olympic Bug

 

Subject: Unknown Insect
Location: Lincolnshire, England
July 23, 2016 7:01 am
This landed on my arm. I have no idea what is neither do the people on Reddit. It’s roughly half an inch big, I’m in Lincolnshire, England. It’s fully intact and it has wings. Help me indenting this.
Signature: Elliot Cutts

Possibly Unknown True Bug
Olympic Bug

Dear Elliot,
We might even be more confused about this critter’s identity than you are.  At first glance, we thought perhaps we were seeing a headless mantid because of the raptorial front legs, until we realized those were the antennae and there were three complete sets of green legs.  The antennae seem to be the best clue in your image for identification purposes, and our best guess at this time is that this might be a member of the True Bug suborder Heteroptera because according to BugGuide, True Bugs can be identified by:  “Antennae, when not hidden, have 4-5 segments.”  Also, some True Bugs have modified antennae like this North American Giant Mesquite Bug.  We have not had any luck locating anything remotely similar looking on the British Bugs Heteroptera page, nor have we had any luck locating anything similar looking on UK Safari.  It is possible we missed something, but we can’t help but to wonder if perhaps this is a recently introduced species, or an exotic rogue that just happened to have found its way to your arm. We have sought some professional assistance, and perhaps our readership will write in with suggestions.

Eric Eaton identifies Olympic Bug
Hi, Daniel:
I think it *is* native.  It is the “Olympic Bug,” Heterotoma planicornis, a type of mirid plant bug.  Here’s more about it:
http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Miridae/heterotoma_planicornis.html
Cool critter, thanks for sharing!
Eric

According to British Bugs:  “The broad and flattened 2nd antennal segment, dark ground colour and contrasting greenish legs make this species unmistakeable.   Abundant throughout most of Britain on various plants and trees, in particular nettles. Both adults and the reddish nymphs feed on small insects as well as plant buds and unripe fruits.”

Letter 12 – Mirid Plant Bug

 

Subject: A visitor on my leg.
Location: Tucson, AZ
April 26, 2015 1:15 pm
Hello, bugman. I was sitting at a bus bench, waiting for my bus, when I noticed the insect on my jeans. It was pretty slow, and didn’t seem dangerous, so I took a few photos before shaking it off my pants. Do you have any idea what kind of bug it is?
Signature: Jeremiah

Possibly Minute Pirate Bug
Mirid Plant Bug

Dear Jeremiah,
It is a True Bug, it looks predatory and it is small, so our first thought was that this looked like a Minute Pirate Bug in the family Anthocoridae, but alas, we were unable to find any matching family members on BugGuide.  There is a similar looking insect indentified only as Tiny Green Bug from Tucson Arizona on Colin L. Miller’s Wildlife blog on the True Bugs 3 page.
  We will consult with Eric Eaton who may be able to provide an identification.

Eric Eaton Provides a Correction
Hi, Daniel:
This is a mirid plant bug (family Miridae).  Not sure of genus, and it is missing both hind legs.  Reminds me most of a freshly-molted Neurocolpus, due to the swollen first antennal segment.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Letter 13 – Jumping Tree Bug

 

Subject: Singapore insect
Location: Singapore
June 4, 2014 9:24 am
Hi Daniel
Was wondering if your expertise could point me in the right direction to ID this guy. I wasn’t sure what to put in the subject. I found it on the bark of a tree in rainforest habitat. It’s quite small about 15mm in length.
Thanks,
Signature: David

What's That Bug???
What’s That Bug???  A Jumping Tree Bug

Dear David,
This really is a disorienting image.  We are nearly certain this is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but it has some very distinctive features, including huge eyes that are almost fly-like and antennae that almost seem to come from the bottom of the head.  We are going to need some assistance with this identification.  It seems to resemble a Backswimmer like this image on BugGuide, but it does not look aquatic.

Daniel:
Wow!  Definitely a plant bug in the family Miridae.  There are some really strange ones.  The family is so large and diverse that I cannot begin to even assign a subfamily to this one.
Eric

It is almost like it can turn its head 180º.

Update:  Jumping Tree Bug
Based on comments received yesterday, the consensus is that this is a Jumping Tree Bug in the Plant Bug subfamily Isometopinae, and this image from BugGuide supports that consensus.

Letter 14 – Plant Bug

 

ID, plant bug?
Hi, Daniel.
You were so helpful with the last mystery bug, I wonder if you could help me with this one. Finding it on my cukes and celery. About 1/4″ long. Any ideas?
Cheers.
Amanda

Hi Amanda,
I’m afraid we can’t be much more accurate than you have already been. It is a True Bug, and possibly a member of the Plant Bug family Miridae. This is a large family of soft bodied insects, most less than 3/8 inch long. They use their beaklike mouthparts to suck plant juices. They are often injurious to crops.

Good enough. I’ll keep feeding them to the chickens. Thanks again.

Letter 15 – Ornate Plant Bug

 

Hi WTB !
Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 10:25 AM
I found this bug on a Ragweed plant during spring, but have also seen it around lights at night and also other ragweed during summer. It looks closest like a Plant Bug, but not quite. I live in Northeast Georgia, around the mountains. I cannot find it anywhere on the internet ! Please help me!
Luke
Murrayville, Georgia

Plant Bug
Plant Bug

Hi Luke,
We agree that this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae based on the long thin antennae and slender legs.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide a genus or species since the matching image we found on BugGuide was identified as an Ornate Plant Bug,
Reuteroscopus ornatus.

Plant Bug
Plant Bug

Letter 16 – Plant Bug

 

Subject: Insect
Location: San Diego, CA
May 29, 2016 10:10 am
I found this insect a few weeks ago and I can’t figure out what it is!
Signature: Elijah

Plant Bug:  Closterocoris amoenus
Plant Bug: Closterocoris amoenus

Dear Elijah,
Thanks to the Arthropods of Orange County site, we were able to identify your Plant Bug in the family Miridae as
Closterocoris amoenus.  According to BugGuide, the species name means “pretty.”

Letter 17 – Plant Bug

 

Subject: trouble IDing an insect
Location: Montgomery County, IN
July 7, 2017 11:06 pm
I found this insect on my car two years ago in July, late in the evening. I was parked near the shelter which is close to Sugar Creek. I checked a few field guides and couldn’t find a match.
Signature: Warren

Plant Bug

Dear Warren,
We were pretty certain you submitted an image of a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, and when we researched that, we found a very similar image identified only as
Lopidea on the Heteroptera of Goodwell and Texhoma Texas County, Oklahoma site on the Family Miridae page.  That genus is represented on BugGuide, but we are not comfortable taking the identification to the species level.  Of the genus, BugGuide notes:  “Some common species are black with extensive red on the edges of the wings and/or pronotum. Well-defined suture on cheeks running from antennal socket to below eyes and frequently outlined by a dark stripe.”

Letter 18 – Plant Bug: Phytocoris species

 

Subject: Very colorful bug…
Location: Eastern Kentucky
July 10, 2017 10:58 pm
I ran across this tiny guy in my yard tonight. I’ve never seen one before and googling hasn’t provided me any answers. Help?
Signature: Jennifer

Plant Bug:  Phytocoris species

Dear Jennifer,
We are nearly certain that this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, however an exact species identification has eluded us.  We could not find a matching image on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had.

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
You are correct, it is a mirid plant bug.  Genus is Phytocoris, but getting to species is almost impossible from images alone.  Great photo and bug!
I see Art helped on the beetle ID….
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

According to BugGuide:  “one of the largest and most complex of NA mirid genera.”

Letter 19 – Plant Bug

 

Subject:  Please identify
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 05/01/2019
Time: 03:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Friend found this in her garden. None of us have noticed this spieces befor and would very much like to become familiar with it.
How you want your letter signed:  Hunter

Plant Bug

Dear Hunter,
This is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae.  We identified
Closterocoris amoenus on the Natural History of Orange County website, and BugGuide does not provide information if it is a predator or a plant feeder.  We will do additional research to determine its diet. 

Letter 20 – Plant Bug from Finland

 

Subject:  Green bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Finland
Date: 08/02/2018
Time: 02:21 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I am interested in name of this bug. ?
I was making some photos outside and see this bug. It was on flowers and stay there for a while.
Many thanks
How you want your letter signed:  Photographer

Plant Bug

Dear Photographer,
We believe this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae.  Here is a similar looking individual from the North American insect site BugGuide and BugGuide states that identifying features of Mirid Plant Bugs include:  “
antennae mostly long and thin …legs slender, delicate.”  It closely resembles Trigonotylus ruficornis pictured on British Bugs.

Letter 21 – Plant Bug: possibly Strawberry Bug

 

Subject: green and brown, active bug
Location: Sierra Foothils 2000′ elevation, Weimar, CA
May 25, 2014 4:45 pm
This was flitting about my garden, and landed on me. Could it be a type of assassin bug? Or is it a leaf eater? The first picture shows it may have a long green head part in front like as assassin bug. Its body is about 3/8 inch long.
Signature: Carolyn

Strawberry Bug
Strawberry Bug

Hi Carolyn,
We believe this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, and we also believe we have correctly identified it on BugGuide as
Closterotomus norvegicus, commonly called a Potato Bug (already an overused common name thanks to the iconic Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket) or Strawberry Bug.  According to BugGuide, the food plants include:  “alfalfa, white clover, and lotus seed crops in New Zealand; a key pest of pistachios in CA; also reported on nettle, poppy, thistle and other Asteraceae.”

Letter 22 – Possibly Mirid Plant Bug

 

Subject: brown/tan bug in northwest NJ
Location: Sparta, NJ 07871
June 3, 2015 4:12 pm
Hi, we have a lot of these outside around our yard this year. Do you know what they are? Body is about 5mm long, not including the antenna. They can fly but mostly I see them crawling on the deck and on plants out there or find them on me when doing yard work . Often when coming in from outside, there are one or two on us and I’m especially concerned about them becoming a problem in the house. I have been searching online and figured I’d try here too. Thank you.
Signature: kstef

Possibly Mirid Plant Bug
Possibly Mirid Plant Bug

Dear kstef,
We believe this might be a Mirid Plant Bug in the family Miridae, but we could not find a match on BugGuide in our initial attempt.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck providing an identification.

Wow, just researched that and it does look a lot like a “clouded plant bug”. Thank you!
-Kara

Hi Kara,
We just looked at images on BugGuide, and though it is similar, we do not believe you submitted a Clouded Plant Bug.  The antennae are very different if you compare, especially to this BugGuide image.
  We will see if Eric Eaton can provide any information.

Letter 23 – Possibly Plant Bug

 

Subject: Stink Bug Nymph … or something else?
Location: Paige, TX
April 21, 2014 1:31 pm
It’s spring in Texas, and that means two things are around the corner: blast furnace temperatures and stink bugs. I noticed some some small black and orange bugs on my onion plants about a week ago. They’re oval, and about 1/8″ wide by about 1/4″ long. They appear to be stink bugs nymphs. However, unlike those I’ve seen before, these are capable of flight. Can anyone help me to identify these critters?
Signature: Pyrrhyuloxia

Plant Bug, we believe
Plant Bug, we believe

Dear Pyrrhyuloxia,
This is not a Stink Bug, but we believe it is a member of the same suborder, Heteroptera, the True Bugs.  We believe this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, and a strong contender for the proper identification is
Metriorrhynchomiris dislocatus, though your images are soft and lacking in critical detail, so exact identification might not be possible.  According to BugGuide, this species of Plant Bug:  “has at least 15 color varieties. (Eric Eaton).”

I think you nailed it. Thanks!

Letter 24 – Tarnished Plant Bug

 

Tiny Little Guys
Location: Maryland
November 21, 2011 11:33 pm
Hi: I saw quite a few of these little guys around my garden this summer, in both of the colors shown. Not sure if it is the same bug that gradually changes color as it ages, or if the color is a gender difference, etc. They are about 1/4” long.
Thanks.
Signature: Barbara Thurlow

Tarnished Plant Bug

Hi Barbara,
In our attempt to identify your True Bug, we found this nymph of a Plant Bug on in the family Miridae on BugGuide that looks similar to your nymph, so we now suspect you have a Plant Bug which warrants additional research prior to posting.  We believe we have correctly identified this as a Tarnished Plant Bug,
Lygus lineolaris, based on photos and text on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “nymphs and adults feed on cotton, soybeans, and more than 50 other crops, plus commercially-grown flowers, fruit trees, forest tree nurseries, and weeds (Over half of the US cultivated plant species are listed as host plants for tarnished plant bugs(2))” and it is described as:  “Adult: a pale yellow “Y” shape on the scutellum is the most notable feature; elytra vary in color from light to dark brown; cuneus usually yellowish or clear, with a small black spot at the tip; color and markings vary between sexes and between overwintering and summer adults. Nymph: yellowish-green with 4 black dots on the back.”  The spots are visible in your photo of the nymph.

Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph

BugGuide also notes that it is:  “The most common plant bug in the US”

Tarnished Plant Bug

 

Letter 25 – Unidentified Mirid Plant Bug, we believe

 

Subject:  Sierra Nevada bug I cant identify
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Sierra range
Date: 08/12/2019
Time: 10:58 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, encountered this lovely green and red (or orange?) bug at 9800 feet near a lake in eastern Sierras near mammoth,
CA. An entomologist friend thought it was a “true bug” but wasn’t sure specifically what it was. Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Craig P

Unidentified Mirid Plant Bug

Hi Craig,
When it comes to attempting to identify unknown insects, large and showy creatures with a wide distribution range are much more likely to be documented with online images than are smaller insects with a limited range.  Species only found at higher elevations are often poorly represented on the internet.  We agree with the entomologist that this is a True Bug, but if that was the best the entomologist could provide, we might be going out on a limb stating we believe this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae.  It looks similar to the Scarlet Plant Bug pictured on The Natural History of Orange County, but it is obviously a different species.  We had no luck browsing BugGuide which indicates there are 1930 members of the family in North America.  Perhaps one of our readers will recognize your Mirid Plant Bug.

Thank you so much! That alone is helpful (and interesting). Had no idea this would be such a stumper, but I’m also a novice.
Thanks again. Will keep eyes out for more thoughts.
CP

Letter 26 – Unidentified Plant Bug from Canada

 

Subject:  Plant bug? What kind?
Geographic location of the bug:  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: 08/13/2021
Time: 01:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this near a creek in a boreal forest. The closest this I could find online is a Western Box Elder Bug, but it has very different markings. What do you think?
How you want your letter signed:  Scott

Unidentified Plant Bug

Dear Scott,
We are pretty certain this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae, however we were not able to find any matching images on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Letter 27 – Unknown Hemipteran from Singapore is Plant Bug

 

Assassin Bug? (Maybe?)
Location: Singapore
February 18, 2011 9:10 am
I need an ID on this bug. =/
Signature: Crystal

Plant Bug

Dear Crystal,
Upon first opening your images, our initial impression was that this was a pinned specimen because of the unusual protuberance jutting from the thorax.  This is surely an interesting looking Hemipteran, but we are not yet prepared to classify it as an Assassin Bug.  It has extremely long antennae and thanks to your side view, the piercing and sucking mouthparts that help to distinguish Hemipterans from the members of other insect orders are plainly evident.  We have numerous errands to run this morning and we haven’t the time to research this identification at this time, but we want to post your excellent images in the hope that one of our readers may recognize this distinctive True Bug.

Hi Daniel and Crystal:
It looks like a Plant Bug (Miridae) in the genus Helopeltis, possibly  H. theivora. Regards.  Karl

Hi Karl,
What a treat to return from errands to find that you had identified this unusual Plant Bug.

Wow cool! Thanks a lot for the ID!

Letter 28 – Immature Soapberry Bugs from South Africa

 

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Johannesburg South Africa
February 3, 2017 11:49 pm
Hello. I am from Johannesburg, South Africa and have never seen this one before. Do you know what it is?
Signature: Thank you, Glynis Kearney

Immature Soapberry Bugs

Dear Glynis,
These look like immature Soapberry Bugs or Scentless Plant Bugs in the family Rhopalidae to us and this image on iSpot supports our identification.

Thanks Daniel, I appreciate your quick response.   I think they are beautiful but I have never seen them before
Love your work
Glynis

Letter 29 – Plant Bugs, Possibly Red Spotted Aster Mirid

 

Subject: Bugs on a dandelion
Location: Austin, TX
December 12, 2016 7:41 am
I’m trying to learn to identify some of the bugs I keep getting pictures of, but I’ve failed with this one so I need help. I keep seeing them on dandelions. The crawl underneath the blossom then back up in the light.
Signature: Rusty

Plant Bugs
Red Spotted Aster Mirid

Dear Rusty,
Because of the unusual angle on the tips of the wings (see this BugGuide image), we believe these are Plant Bugs in the family Miridae, and possibly in the genus Lygus which is pictured on BugGuide where it states:  “Adult: body either mottled or solid color varying from pale green to reddish-brown or black with pale Y or V shape on scutellum; antennae and legs relatively long.”  We also located these images of
Polymerus basalis on the Flowering Plants and Insects of Goodwell and Texhoma, OK site that looks rather similar to your individuals.  According to BugGuide, the Red Spotted Aster Mirid is:  “most abundant in the fall” and “Feeds mostly on Asteraceae” and since the flower on which you found them is in the family Asteraceae, we suspect that might be a species identification.  This BugGuide image looks like a very close match to the individuals in your image.

Plant Bugs
Red Spotted Aster Mirid

Thank you very much.  I believe that’s my bug.  It was something totally new to me.  I was using a macro lens to get a picture of the dandelion and saw them on it.  So I focused on them instead.
Again, thank you very much.

 

Letter 30 – Tarnished Plant Bug

 

Subject: Bug ID
Location: Cincinnati Ohio
May 1, 2016 9:25 am
May 1st in Cincinnati Ohio
Flying, lots of them, near a newly built deck. Landing on skin which caused a bit of irritation.
Looks like a very small stink bug.
Help!
Signature: NoMoBugs

Tarnished Plant Bug
Tarnished Plant Bug

Dear NoMoBugs,
We located a matching image on FlickR that is identified as Lygus lineolaris and when we researched that name on BugGuide, we learned it is the Tarnished Plant Bug.  Earlier today we posted a very similar image from California that we believe is a Western Tarnished Plant Bug.

Letter 31 – Mirid Plant Bug

 

Subject: What order does this belong to?
Location: Carlsbad, California
July 14, 2013 6:20 pm
A very slender insect landing near the an outside light. Is it some kind of Heteroptera?
Signature: Dennis

True Bug
Mirid Plant Bug

Hi Dennis,
We agree that this appears to be a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but we do not recognize it.  We will do additional research as well as request assistance.  We will be posting it today as Unidentified and we hope to have an answer for you soon.

True Bug
Mirid Plant Bug

Update:  July 29, 2013
Eric Eaton Provides an identification
Daniel:
Mirid plant bug in the genus Phytocoris, one of the few genera that is really distinctive (in posture, etc).
Eric

Letter 32 – Western Tarnished Plant Bugs, we believe

 

Subject: Leaf Beetle?
Location: Trinity County, Ca. 1,500′ elev.
May 1, 2016 5:30 pm
We have an infestation of hundreds of beetles that are on our ash tree and lilac bush underneath it. They are very active in the late afternoon in the high 80’s and the ash tree is being defoliated. They are also working out on the lilac bush and it is becoming sickly looking. Looking at pictures they seem to resemble a leaf beetle but I’m no bug person. Can you help?
Signature: Larry Winter

Plant Bug: Possibly Orthops scutellatus
Plant Bug: Possibly Western Tarnished Plant Bug

Dear Larry,
These are definitely NOT Beetles.  We believe they are Plant Bugs in the family Miridae.  It resembles
Orthops scutellatus based on this and other BugGuide images, but that species feeds on carrots and other Umbelliferae according to BugGuide.  Perhaps an even better match is the Western Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus hesperus, which is also pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, it is “Widespread in the western North America in agricultural and relatively low elevation regions extending from southern BC to northern Mexico.”

Plant Bugs we believe
Plant Bugs we believe

It seems to be the Western Tarnished Plant Bug, Lygus hesperus.
Thanks so much for your help.  They seemed to like my ash tree, and lilac and are leaving my strawberries alone for now.
Larry Winter
Hyampom, Ca

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

28 thoughts on “Houseplant Bugs: Insects that Infect Common Indoor Plants”

  1. I also have bugs in my yucca plant but mine looks more like stink bugs. They seem to fill up the plant within every bloom.

    Reply
  2. I forgot to add that I live in extreme southern Alabama. About 15 min from the guild of Mexico. I didn’t know if it would help

    Reply
  3. This looks quite a bit like a plant bug (Miridae). The single closed cell at the base of the membrane and the cuneus are the two biggest clues to me. There’s a lot of disparity in the family, but that’s my best guess!

    Reply
    • Sorry for the split comment, but I feel I should add that for some reason it looks like the subfamily Isometopinae. We have a few here in the US, and they’re definitely a little bit weird. I believe one of the characteristics that makes them a Mirid oddball is the presence of ocelli (which I believe your bug has). If I’m not mistaken, they’re specialized scale insect predators as well.

      Reply
    • Thanks very much for your comment, but there are quite a few folks who believe this is a Plant Bug in the family Miridae and probably in the subfamily Isometopinae, and based on this image posted to BugGuide, the members of that subfamily do have unusually shaped heads.

      Reply
  4. I have blackish/brownish bugs, no picture, that are round and very small….can cover a leaf of the Yucca. Since the bugs have gone for the Winter I now have white dead leaves with brownish blackish spots. Can the plant be saved? Do I just remove all the dead leaves which would leave a long huge stalk like trunk? I also haven’t separated my Yucca’s and am assuming this too is causing my problem. HELP!!!

    Reply
  5. Cool. I love bugs as long as they aren’t in my house or crawling on me. This is a truthfully odd bug. I’ve never seen one, as I am in Alabama, USA.

    Reply
  6. I have these exact bugs all over my avocado trees here in Los Angeles. I’ve been trying to figure out if they are hurting my trees or if they are beneficial. They bite so predatory seems accurate.

    Reply
  7. Hi everyone,
    It might be a bit late to give my few cents here, but it is indeed a mirid in the subfamily Isometopinae. There is the genus Astroscopometopus which looks a bit like this specimen:

    http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/46/c9/ed.html

    However, I am not convinced but the 15mm size info. All isometopinae and the vast mayority of plant bugs in general are much smaller. (objects in the camera display appear larger…)

    Here is another image of a similar creature where I added a scale bar (different species though):

    http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/6017706#activity_comment_890084

    Cheers,

    Claas

    Reply
  8. Hi everyone,
    It might be a bit late to give my few cents here, but it is indeed a mirid in the subfamily Isometopinae. There is the genus Astroscopometopus which looks a bit like this specimen:

    http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/46/c9/ed.html

    However, I am not convinced but the 15mm size info. All isometopinae and the vast mayority of plant bugs in general are much smaller. (objects in the camera display appear larger…)

    Here is another image of a similar creature where I added a scale bar (different species though):

    http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/6017706#activity_comment_890084

    Cheers,

    Claas

    Reply
  9. You’ve had several postings about insects and spiders found on cannabis. They inspired me to do a little research. Apparently insects have no cannabinoid receptors, though other invertebrates do have ’em. If this bug turns out to be herbivorous at least it won’t get the munchies. (To be painfully pedantic, it would be more accurate to say a true bug like this wouldn’t get the sulkies.

    Reply

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