Prepared by: Dr. Joe Funderburk
Biology and Lifecycle: Individual eggs are laid in plant tissues. Females
lay over 75 eggs when consuming adequate numbers of insect prey. Eggs
hatch in 6 to 10 days. Development of the nymphal instars requires at least
10 days, depending on temperature. The adults live three to four weeks.
Environmental Factors: The species overwinters as mated
females in reproductive diapause. They are active from March to
November in northern Florida, and year-round in southern Florida. A
combination of day-length and temperature influences the onset and
duration of reproductive diapause.
Adult: Elliptical with a triangular
head. The head and thorax are
shiny and black. The forewing
has a small dark area at the
base of the first pair of legs,
then a whitish yellow area,
then a triangular dark area.
The rest of the forewing is
membranous and pale.
Immatures: The five
nymphal instars are ovoid.
The first instar is slightly yellow.
Later instars get progressively
darker in color. The last instar is
mahogany in color.
Host Species: Abundant on many crop and wild plant species.
Very abundant on species of peppers (Capsicum spp.), but not on
tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
Habitat/Nutritional Requirements: Minute pirate bugs have
co-evolved with plants including pepper, okra, and cotton that have
special structures called domatia that produce food and shelter for
predators. The domatia allow predator populations to survive and
successfully reproduce in the absence of prey. Minute pirate bugs persist
in peppers after suppressing prey to low population levels, by feeding
on pollen and plant juices without doing damage. Adults and nymphs
are highly aggregated in the flowers of pepper.
Effectiveness: Integrated pest management programs are
designed to conserve minute pirate bug populations through the use
of cultural tactics and reduced-risk insecticides. Minute pirate bugs
provide control of thrips when there is at least one predator per 180
prey. The predator also feeds on aphids, mites, whitefli