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Origin and appearance
Bugs (Heteroptera) are insects that belong to the order of the beak-hens (Hemiptera). There are several hundred species of small animals worldwide, but only a few are specialized in plants. The various types of bugs that feed on plant saps are summarized under the generic term leaf bugs. These include, for example, the so-called berry bugs.
The zoologisch to the soft bugs (Miridae) counting sheet bugs are usually between five and ten millimeters large, are wide built and quite flat. The insects are winged and yellowish-green to yellow-red or yellow-brown colored. The development of the animals runs from the egg over wingless larvae with several molts to the fully grown bug. Hibernation also takes place as an adult insect, so species such as the fire bugs appear on the first warm days of the year. Leaf bugs multiply especially when it is very hot and dry for a long time.
Common host plants
Leaf bugs often infect various types of fruit, especially strawberries and other berry fruits, as well as apples and pears. The insects also occur on vegetables, for example on beans, potatoes or cabbage plants. But ornamental shrubs such as the hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus), potted plants and roses are among the host plants of some species.
Young plants are particularly at risk for an infestation with leaf bugs. The infestation and damage to older plants are usually limited. Irregularly distributed, differently sized, roundish holes on leaves are the first signs of a leaf bug infestation. In addition to the typical pitting, you recognize the animals by their strong mouth sting. With this suck the adult bugs and their larvae with preference to young plant tissue and fruits. This results in small, often yellow discolored puncture sites. Heavily affected leaves are often verrasettlich, infested fruits show some malformations. By sucking the leaf bugs can also be transmitted various herbal viral infections.
With their saliva, leaf bugs often release so-called toxins (toxins) into the affected parts of the plant. Twists, crippled shoots and stunted flowers and fruits on the host plants are the result. The flower buds often remain unopened.
So-called stink bugs but with special glands at risk a foul-smelling secretion. The secret odor is perceived as so unpleasant that many hobby gardeners lose any appetite for the affected fruit - often different types of berries. Despite all this, however, the damage caused by leaf bugs is usually not severe in the long run.
These common fire bugs suck on the seed capsules of a shrub marshmallow (Hibiscus syriacus)
As early as spring, examine your plants for possible pests as soon as it gets warm. If you find leaf bugs on your plants, you should always pick them up by hand immediately, so that the insects can not multiply any further. Especially during hot and dry weather periods regular checks are recommended. Incidentally, in the case of imminent danger, the insects are usually dropping dead. This behavior makes the collection of pests very easy.
By regularly watering and mulching your plants, you prevent infestation. An evenly moist soil is ideal, as leaf bugs love it very hot and especially dry. The thorough removal of weeds also reduces the risk of infestation. Hobby gardeners, who offer beneficial animals such as birds and toads shelter and nesting sites through a close-to-nature garden design, naturally keep leaf bugs in check.
Control of leaf bugs
If your favorite plants suffer from severe leaf bug infestation, there are a number of control methods in addition to the preventive measures. Chemical control should always be considered as a last resort, as it is a strong intervention in nature, which also threatens other beneficial insects. With the right tricks, leaf bugs can easily be kept in check even without a chemical cudgel.
As already mentioned, the shaking off of the bugs from the affected plants is a proven measure in the fight against the annoying animals. The best time for this is the early morning, because then the insects are still very lethargic. It is recommended to wear gloves so that any sprayed, stinking secretions do not get on the skin. Also, the cumshot of the animals with a powerful jet of water is a very effective method of control. Subsequently, covering the plants with a vegetable fly net helps to successfully keep the leaf bug away from endangered plants.
Even spraying with a self-made lubricating soapy water are helpful. For this purpose, mix a little soap - preferably potash soap without any additives - with a little water and spray the mixture several times a day on the affected plants. For salads and leafy vegetables, this method of treatment is only conditionally recommended. Many ornamental plants with soft, delicate leaves can not tolerate potash soap.
In case of severe infestation, chemical agents such as paraffin oil can be used if necessary. Paraffin oil is typically used preventively to control eggs and larvae of pests. Affected plants are sprayed with the oil. The pests suffocate because the paraffin oil clogs their respiratory organs (tracheae). Although paraffin oil is environmentally friendly, but also beneficial animals such as ladybugs are damaged. Therefore, such means should be used with care and should not be used unnecessarily.