How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

True bugs

True bugs usually have thickened forewings with membranous tips. When they rest, the dissimilar parts of their folded wings overlap. Most true bugs can be recognized by the characteristic triangle or X-shape on the back formed by their folded wings. True bugs have sucking mouthparts, which on plant-feeding species point downward, perpendicular to the plane of the insect's body. Common true bugs are lace bugs (tingids), boxelder bugs, ash plant bugs, lygus bugs, stink bugs, and chinch and false chinch bugs.

Life cycle

True bugs go through incomplete metamorphosis. Depending on the species, eggs are laid exposed on foliage or bark or inserted in plant tissue. The flightless nymphs gradually change to winged adults without any pupal stage.


True bugs suck juices from leaves, fruit, or nuts, forming a pale stippling around feeding sites and distorting tissue. Varnishlike spots of excrement often dot leaves. Bugs do not seriously harm woody plants; however, activities of some species can be undesirable. Lace bugs may cause heavy damage, which may be confused with that of greenhouse thrips.


Most true bugs do not cause serious harm to established plants. Provide proper cultural care so plants are vigorous. Provide adequate irrigation. Avoid growing shade-adapted species in full sunlight. Damaged foliage can be pruned out. Consider replacing especially susceptible plants with resistant species. Spraying for bugs is generally not recommended, although oils or soaps may be used with good coverage. Parasites and general predators may contribute to control.

Brown adults and green nymphs of the Pacific ash plant bug
Brown adult and green nymphs of the Pacific ash plant bug

Bleached foliage caused by lace bugs
Bleached foliage caused by lace bugs


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Accessibility   Contact webmaster.