Lace Bugs on Avocado Trees: Effective Control and Prevention Tips

Lace bugs are a common pest affecting avocado trees, posing a significant threat to their health and productivity. The avocado lace bug (Pseudacysta perseae) specifically targets avocado trees, and has been detected in various regions, including the Caribbean, Mexico, and southeastern United States 1.

These pests can diminish the beauty and overall health of avocado trees. They feed on the plants’ foliage, causing damage and reducing the trees’ ability to produce food 2. As a result, the weakened trees become susceptible to other insects, diseases, and harsh weather conditions, potentially causing serious harm or even death.

Lace Bug Damage on Avocado Trees

Symptoms of Lace Bug Infestation

  • Yellow, stippled leaves
  • Premature leaf drop

Lace bugs on avocado trees are tiny insects that may cause damage to the leaves and fruit. These pests, known as avocado lace bug, primarily feed on the leaves, causing them to become yellow and stippled. Often, infested leaves may drop prematurely, and the overall health of the tree may decline.

Effects on Avocado Yield and Quality

Fruit Effects:

  • Sunburn on some fruits
  • Possible reduction in fruit yield

When avocado trees experience an infestation of lace bugs, the damage to the leaves can lead to a chain reaction impacting the fruit as well. As the leaves fall, the fruit can become exposed to excessive sunlight, resulting in sunburned avocados. Consequently, this may lead to a reduction in both fruit yield and overall quality.

Lace Bug Infestation Healthy Avocado Tree
Leaf Appearance Yellow, stippled Normal, green
Leaf Drop Premature Seasonal
Fruit Yield Possibly reduced Optimal
Fruit Quality Sunburned High quality

In summary, lace bug damage on avocado trees manifests through yellow, stippled leaves and premature leaf drop, which in turn can result in sunburned fruits and reduced yield. To ensure the health and quality of avocado trees, it is important to prevent and manage lace bug infestations.

Lace Bug Biology and Life Cycle

Eggs and Nymphs

Avocado lace bugs undergo a life cycle consisting of eggs, nymphs, and adults. Female lace bugs insert tiny, oblong eggs in the leaf tissue1. These eggs are covered in dark excrement, helping to protect them.

Nymphs emerge from the eggs and start feeding on the plant’s tissues. This stage consists of several instars that progress as the nymphs grow.

Adult Lace Bugs

Adult lace bugs exhibit a distinct feature: their thorax and wings showcase a “lace-like patterning2. They belong to the insect order Hemiptera, family Tingidae.

Adults continue feeding on plant tissues, impairing the avocado tree’s health. Several generations of lace bugs can occur within a year1, thus monitoring and control are vital.

  • Lace bug life cycle stages:
    • Egg
    • Nymph
    • Adult

Comparison Table

Lace Bug Stage Description
Egg Tiny, oblong eggs inserted into leaf tissue, covered in dark excrement
Nymph Feeds on plant tissues, grows through several instars
Adult Lace-like patterning on thorax and wings, continues feeding on plant tissues

Methods of Pest Control

Natural Enemies and Predators

One effective way to control lace bugs on avocado trees is by introducing their natural enemies and predators, such as parasitic wasps and predatory thrips1. These beneficial insects can help keep the lace bug population in check. For example, at least two species of parasitic wasps can kill avocado lace bug eggs in Florida, such as an unidentified species in the family Mymaridae and an Oligosita sp. (Trichogrammatidae)2.

Preventative Measures

Another essential aspect of controlling lace bugs is adopting preventative measures, such as:

  • Regularly inspecting your avocado trees for signs of infestation.
  • Ensuring proper plant health through adequate water and nutrients, as healthier trees are less susceptible to pests.
  • Pruning infested branches and disposing of them properly to prevent the spread of lace bugs.

Chemical Control

In cases of severe infestations, chemical control methods may be necessary. Common insecticides used against lace bugs include pyrethrin and imidacloprid3. However, it’s crucial to use these chemicals responsibly to avoid causing harm to beneficial insects and the environment. Always follow the label instructions and explore other control methods before resorting to chemical treatments.

Chemical Control Pros Cons
Pyrethrin Fast-acting Can harm non-target organisms
Imidacloprid Systemic (long-lasting) May cause resistance in the pests

It’s important to note that some biological control methods, such as Bacillus thuringiensis and horticultural oils, are not typically used for lace bug control on avocado trees, as they target other pests like thrips and mites4. Please make a comparison table where relevant

Geographical Distribution and Environment

Lace Bugs in California and Florida

The avocado lace bug (Pseudacysta perseae) is found in both California and Florida. In California, its presence is limited to San Diego County, while Florida has observed the bug since 1908.

Other Affected Regions

Outside the United States, the avocado lace bug occurs in the Caribbean, Mexico, and other parts of the southeastern US.

Comparison of Lace Bug Presence:

Region Lace Bug Presence
California Limited to San Diego County
Florida Observed since 1908
Mexico Affected
Caribbean Affected
Southeast Other parts also affected
  • California: Presence limited to San Diego County
  • Florida: Observed since 1908
  • Mexico, Caribbean, Southeast: Affected by the bug

Caring for Avocado Trees during Infestations

Pruning and Management

When dealing with an infestation of avocado lace bugs, it’s essential to properly prune affected avocado trees. Remove infested leaves and branches to prevent the spread of the insects to other parts of the tree. Keep the area surrounding the tree clean, removing any fallen debris.

Benefits of Pruning:

  • Reduces the spread of pests
  • Promotes healthier tree growth

Drawbacks of Pruning:

  • Manual labor-intensive
  • Requires proper care to avoid damaging the tree

Fertilizing and Tree Stress Reduction

Fertilizing and reducing tree stress are crucial components of maintaining healthy avocado trees during an infestation. Well-nourished and less stressed trees are more resistant to pests like lace bugs.

Fertilizers and Nutrient Rations for Avocado Trees:

Nutrient Ratio
Nitrogen 1:1
Phosphorus 1:2
Potassium 1:1

Regularly monitor the trees for signs of stress, such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, or lack of fruiting. Depending on the stress, you might need to implement measures like adequate watering, proper fertilizing, and a pruning regime.

Methods to Reduce Tree Stress:

  • Proper watering: monitoring soil moisture and ensuring adequate drainage
  • Pest management: identifying and managing pests to avoid further stress on trees
  • Pruning: removing dead or infected branches to promote healthy tree growth

Footnotes

  1. https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7428.html 2 3

  2. https://biocontrol.ucr.edu/avocado-lace-bug 2

  3. Lace Bugs Management Guidelines–UC IPM – UCANR

  4. Control of Lace Bugs on Ornamental Plants – Extension

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 – Lace Bug

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Nashville, TN area
June 15, 2013 2:57 pm
Slightly larger than a fruit fly, found near a small lake in the summer
Signature: J. Jones

Lace Bug
Lace Bug

Dear J. Jones,
Though your photo is quite blurry, the outline of this Lace Bug in the family Tingidae is quite distinctive.

Letter 2 – Lace Bug

 

Subject: Corythucha species in so cal?
Location: Deukmejian Wilderness Park, La Crescenta, California 91214
March 28, 2014 10:49 pm
Hello,
I have been recently photographing a species of Lace Bug (Corythucha) for a biology project that I cannot identify. I have found these solely on the Thick-leaf Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium) and observed clusters of the nymphs as well (which I have included in the photos). The adults seemed to be exhibiting some maternal care and am very curious to find out what species I have been observing as this is the only population I have been able to find in this area. I have collected these photos from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in La Crescenta, CA 91214 in the Alluvial community at an elevation of 2500 ft. I will greatly appreciate any information you can lend to me, thank you for your time.
Signature: Travis Farwell

Lace Bug
Lace Bug

Hi Travis,
You might want to try posting these images to BugGuide as well because we are a bit leery of providing an exact species identification on Lace Bugs which are quite similar in appearance.  For now, we are posting your excellent images in the hope that one of our readers can provide additional information.

Lace Bug Nymphs
Lace Bug Nymphs

Thank you for your help Daniel, I will be posting to BugGuide shortly.

Let us know if you get a definitive identification.

Lace Bug
Lace Bug

 

Letter 3 – Lace Bug

 

Subject: unknown flying insect
Location: Greenville, NC USA
December 14, 2015 5:31 pm
I saw this near microscopic insect on my shirt and macro photographed it with Canon point and shoot. I am amazed at the detail on such a small thing. Could you help me identify this one? Thanks.
Mike Shugart
picture taken more than one year ago.
Signature: Mike Shugart

Lace Bug
Lace Bug

Dear Mike,
This is a Lace Bug in the family Tingidae and we believe that based on images posted to BugGuide, that it is a Walnut Lace Bug,
Corythucha juglandisBugGuide states “hosts: almost exclusively, black walnut” and “Both adults and nymphs are found together on the lower surfaces of walnut leaflets where they suck the sap from the leaves. More than 100 nymphs and adults may be present at one time on one leaflet. Areas where they have fed are easily recognized because of cast skins, excrement, and dark, discolored patches of leaf. The upper leaf surface is stippled with tiny white spots that give the upper leaf surface a whitish appearance. Leaves of heavily infested trees may turn brown and fall off.”

Letter 4 – Lace Bug

 

Subject: What’s That Bug?
Location: Ridgecrest, California 93555
May 30, 2016 7:50 am
Hi Bugman,
The wife of a friend of mine (Ron) has been suffering a reaction to something for the better part of two years now. Today she came to him and said “I’ve caught one” and gave him a jar. He had purchased an electron microscope for just such a reason, so you will see the bug in the first photo.
The second photo gives you an idea about the size of the bug. See the black dot inside the bowl? That’s the size of the bug.
I’m guessing you’ll know right away what the bug is.
Signature: Very Respectfully, Donald Boessow

Lace Bug
Lace Bug

Dear Donald,
This is a Lace Bug in the family Tingidae, and according to BugGuide:  “Feed mainly on leaves of trees and shrubs, causing yellow spotting and sometimes browning and death of the leaves.”
  Like other True Bugs, Lace Bugs have mouths designed to pierce so that they might suck fluids from the plants upon which they are feeding.  You did not provide details regarding the reaction experienced by your friend’s wife, but we do not believe it is related to this Lace Bug.  We will be postdating your submission to go live to our site in June while we are away from the office.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for the quick response! Here is what Ron’s wife, Suzy, had to say about her allergic reaction (including a response to your email) as well as other info about the Lace Bug:
“My reaction has been severe allergies they infested our clothing our furniture basically the whole house ! And my poor dogs are being eaten alive by the “black tiny shears” they leave behind which looks exactly like the underside of this thing ! They buzz you outside early sunset sometimes darker! All very very tiny! They look like lint when u kill em! My nose turns on like a faucet and I know they are coming lol ! And they make me itch almost as much as my poor pups lol! My Bella [her dog] sneezes almost as bad as me lol! I pull them off my dogs just always dead and can’t tell what it is (squished) but there ya have it ! This is def what I’ve had reactions to and they are VERY invasive I don’t care what they say their behavior is supposed to be like lol they are a nightmare! ✌?️ ~ Suzy Que”
Again, thank you for your help. Ron and Suzy will take the information you have provided and work towards solving Suzy’s allergy (as well as the Lace Bug’s affect on her poor dogs).
Very respectfully,
Donald Boessow

Authors

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  • 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.

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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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