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Capsid bugs

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last updated Mar 26, 2013
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Capsid damage on artichoke. Credit: RHS/Simon Garbutt.

Capsid bugs spoil the appearance of plants by giving the foliage a tattered and distorted appearance.

What are capsid bugs? Back to top

Capsid bugs are sap-sucking insects that feed at the shoot tips, and on flower buds, of a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants.

Symptoms Back to top

Signs of damage appear from late May to early September.

  • The leaves near the shoot tips have many small, brown-edged holes and may be misshapen
  • Affected flower buds, particularly those of fuchsia, may fail to develop, or, in the case of chrysanthemum, dahlia and other daisy-like flowers, open unevenly
  • Apple capsid bug (Plesiocoris rugicollis) damages the foliage as described above. It also feeds on the young fruitlets, which results in bumps or raised corky scabs developing on the mature fruit. These blemishes are only skin deep and do not affect the eating and keeping qualities of the fruits

Control Back to top

Chemical control

  • Inspect the shoot tips of susceptible plants from mid-May onwards
  • If capsid bugs or signs of damage are seen, spray with thiacloprid (Bayer Provado Ultimate Bug Killer), deltamethrin (Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer) or  lambda-cyhalothrin (Westland Plant Rescue Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer)
  • Apples can be sprayed with deltamethrin or lambda-cyhalothrin shortly after the flowers have fallen
  • Vegetables generally tolerate capsid damage and do not need spraying for this pest

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Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology Back to top

The adult bugs are up to 6mm long (¼in) and have distinctive wings:

  • The basal two-thirds are coloured and thickened, the outer third is transparent
  • The wings are folded flat over the body when at rest, so the transparent part of the wings shows as a clear diamond-shaped area at the rear end of the insect
  • Immature nymphs are wingless and generally pale green in colour
  • Capsid bugs overwinter as eggs or adult bugs, depending on the species
  • Capsid bugs suck sap mainly from the developing tissues at the shoot tips and buds of many plants
  • As they feed, they damage and kill some of the cells where the mouthparts have probed
  • When the leaves expand from the buds, the dead areas tear into many small holes

Quick facts

Common name: Capsid bugs
Scientific name: Various species, mainly Lygocoris pabulinus and Lygus rugulipennis and apple capsid,  Plesiocoris rugicollis
Plants affected Many, including apples, beans, Caryopteris, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Dahlia, Forsythia, Fuchsia, HydrangeaPhygelius, potatoes, roses and Salvia
Main symptoms: Leaves develop with many small holes. Flowers may be distorted or absent
Most active May-August

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