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

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