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Anthocoridae

Minute Pirate Bugs

Neutral

(Family: Anthocoridae)
Minute Pirate Bugs (Family Anthocoridae) are small Hemipterans that are often used as biological controls. They are very small, 1-5mm, but feed on a wide variety of insect pests. They have elongated bodies covered in wings that are often black and white spotted.

 

Who

Minute Pirate Bugs (Family Anthocoridae). These small Hemipterans are often used as biological controls. They are very small, 1-5mm, but feed on a wide variety of insect pests. They have elongated bodies covered in wings that are often black and white spotted.

What

Though small, they feed a wide array of tomato pests including aphids, whiteflies, and eggs of tomato fruitworms (Helicoverpa zea).

When

Generally most abundant during spring through fall, depending on climate.

Where

All continents excluding Antarctica.

Why

These bugs are attracted to flowering plants and a large supply of food such as thrips, aphids, and spider mites.

How

A few gardeners swear by planting marigolds, cosmos, fennel, and goldenrod around their gardens to attract these little predators. A couple of species are readily available as biological controls as well. Make sure to keep pesticide use to a minimum if you are using biologicals to control your tomato pests!

Lauren’s notes

While these bugs are very tiny, they are known to bite! Well, more like a taste. They feed on prey by inserting their piercing-sucking mouth parts into the insect and eating the juices. If one lands on you, which is likely, they may “poke around” to see if anything is edible nearby. Unfortunately, it seems the poking is much more painful than if they actually bit you to feed. Most people just experience an annoying sting while others have shown to experience itchy welts.

Back to Entomology

Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Hemiptera
Family
Anthocoridae

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