Clemson University Arthropod Collection (CUAC)
Halticotoma valida (Townsend, 1892)
Yucca Plant Bug
HEMIPTERA: Heteroptera: Miridae
Description: Adult specimens in the CUAC range from 2.61 to 3.80 mm in length and 1.41 to 1.76 mm in width. The color of the head and pronotum is a bright red. The scutellum and the wings are dark brown to black. Indicative of the Miridae is the presence on the hemelytra of a cuneus and one or two closed cells at the base of the membrane. Compound eyes are present but ocelli are lacking. Antennae and beak are 4-segmented (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).
Life cycle: The overwintering stage is the egg, which is inserted into yucca leaves. After laying the eggs the female may deposit a light colored material around the operculum, or cap, of the egg (Wheeler 2001). In a study by Wheeler (1976) 10 miles south of Charlotte, NC, eggs were found to hatch late March to early April. Development from egg to adult took approximately 30 days. Nymphs molt five times. Nymphs were present until November and adults until late December. Four generations, and possibly a fifth, occurred.
Locations: Halticotoma valida has been recorded from the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NE, NC, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, TN, UT, VA, and WV (Wheeler 1976, Fowler 1980, Henry and Froeschner 1988, Henry 2010). Specimens in the CUAC are from Chester, Dillon, Laurens, Pickens and Richland Counties in SC. The specimens from Richland County were recorded as collected from cactus, species not given.
Dates of Collections: In SC collections were made in April, May, June and November.
Plant Hosts: Halticotoma valida is known specifically as a pest of yucca. Yucca species recorded as plant hosts are Yucca baccata Tor., Y. elata (Engelm.) Engelm. , Y. filamentosa L., Y. glauca Nutt., and Y. recurvifolia Salisb.. Dasylirion, a close relative of yucca, has also been recorded as a plant host.
Feeding Injury: Nymphs tend to aggregate at feeding sites and high numbers can cause severe damage (Wheeler 1976). Yucca foliage may have pale irregular spots or appear severely yellowed or chlorotic. The appearance of plants is also negatively affected by the presence of dark specks of excrement. Thin leafed yuccas appear to be more susceptible to damage. Feeding injury has been observed on Yucca bacata, Y. filamentosa and Y. recurvifolia, while nearby species, Y. elata and Y. aloifolia L. were free of injury (Wheeler 1976, Fowler 1980, Henry 2010).
Fowler, H G.1980. New state record for Halticotoma valida (Hemiptera: Miridae) with notes on population. The Southwestern Naturalist 25:267-268.
Henry, T J. 2010. New plant bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Miridae) records for West Virginia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 112:490-499.
Henry, T J and R C Froeschner, eds. 1988. Catalog of the Heteroptera, or true bugs, of Canada and the Continental United States. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 958 pp.
Triplehorn, C A and N F Johnson. 2005. Borror and Delong’s introduction to the study of insects. Thomson Brooks/Cole. USA. 864 pp.
Wheeler Jr, A G. 1976. Yucca plant bug, Halticotoma valida: authorship, distribution, host plants and notes on biology. The Florida Entomologist 59:71-76.
----------------. 2001. Biology of the plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae) Pests, predators, opportunists. Cornell University Press. Ithaca and London. 507 pp.