Minute Pirate Bugs
Minute Pirate Bugs, are common insect predators that are found in many agricultural crops, pasture land, and surrounding areas.
Pirate bugs are "true bugs" (Hemiptera) in the family Anthocoridae.
Both immature stages (nymphs) and adults feed on a variety of small prey, including spider mites, insect eggs, aphids, thrips, and small caterpillars.
Both adults and nymphs feed by sucking juices from their prey through a sharp needle-like beak, which is characteristic of all true bugs.
Most of the time Minute Pirate Bugs are good guys. They are true generalist predators feeding on many different prey including thrips, aphids, spider mites and many insect eggs.
They can consume as many as 30 spider mites per day.
For a bug that small, that is some heavy duty feeding.
Adults are very small, about 1/8Th inch (3 mm long), somewhat oval-shaped, and black with white wing patches.
Wings extend beyond the tip of the body.
Nymphs are small, wingless insects, yellow-orange to brown in color.
Teardrop-shaped and fast moving.
Both adults and nymphs feed by sucking juices from their prey through a sharp, needle-like beak (the rostrum), which is characteristic of all true bugs.
Minute Pirate Bugs are common on many agricultural crops including, alfalfa, corn, pea, strawberry, on pasture land, in orchards, and is successfully used as a biological control agent in greenhouses.
It is often found in corn silks and is most common where there are spring and summer flowering shrubs and weeds since it feeds on pollen and plant juices when prey are not available.
In greenhouses, Minute pirate bugs are generalist predators, especially on cucumber and bell pepper crops.
Both immature stages (nymphs) and adults feed on a variety of small prey including thrips, spider mites, insect eggs, aphids, and small caterpillars.
Minute Pirate Bugs are most common where there are spring and summer flowering shrubs and weeds, since they feed on pollen and plant juices when prey are not available.
Foliar applications of insecticides to crops can greatly reduce their numbers.
Even soil applied systemic insecticides may reduce their numbers because of their habit of sucking plant juices.
Diversified cropping systems, use of microbial insecticides, e.g., products containing Bacillus thuringiensis, and use of economic thresholds to minimize insecticide applications
All practical recommendations to maximize the natural biological control from Pirate Bugs.
Pirate bugs hold its prey with its front legs and inserts its beak into the host body, generally several times, until the soft body is empty and only the exoskeleton remains.
It has been reported to be an important predator of the eggs and new larvae of the bollworm and of spotted tobacco aphid, but it is believed that thrips
and mites are the more basic part of a Minute Pirate Bug
It can also be an important predator of corn earworm eggs which are laid on the silks.
Other reported prey includes eggs and small European corn borers, corn leaf aphids, potato aphids, and potato leafhopper nymphs.
Females lay tiny eggs 2-3 days after mating in plant tissues where they are not easily seen.
Several generations may occur during a growing season.
Pirate Bugs are available commercially from insectaries, but specific use recommendations have not been researched.
They are shipped as adults in a carrier such as bran, rice hulls, or vermiculite, along with a food source. The carrier can be shaken onto plants, and the bugs will readily disperse and locate prey.
Some complaints happen when Pirate Bugs move into home gardens and landscapes in July.
Their bite is amazingly painful for something so tiny. When they bite they are actually probing us with their short blunt beak. They do not feed on blood or inject venom or saliva.
No worries, the bite is only temporarily irritating.
Minute Pirate Bugs and Other Beneficial Insects
Create a Beneficial Insectary in Your Gardens
Turn Your Yard Into a Wildlife Habitat
Start with Native Flowers
By going Native, you can enjoy God's nature the way it was intended to be enjoyed.