Clemson University Arthropod Collection (CUAC)
Halticus bractatus (Say, 1832)
HEMIPTERA: Heteroptera: Miridae
Description: Specimens in the CUAC pinned collection range from 1.79 to 2.46 mm in length for macropterous (long-winged) male and female adults and 1.35 to 1.52 mm for brachypterous (short-winged) females. Widths for male and female adults ranged from 0.69 to 0.98 mm. Colors range from black on the head and scutellum to light brown wings with opaque patches for macropterous forms and black wings for brachypterous forms. Antennae extend beyond the body. Long hind legs enable the insect to hop hence the common name, garden fleahopper. Indicative of the Miridae is the presence on the hemelytra of a cuneus and one or two closed cells on the membrane. Compound eyes are present but ocelli are lacking. Antennae and beak are four-segmented. (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).
Life cycle: Overwintering is in the egg stage except in areas where winters remain mild and adults are able to survive. Adults have been observed during the winter in South Carolina and Florida (Beyer 1921, Capinera 2005, Wheeler 2001). Eggs are a pearly white, changing to a clay-yellow, curved cylinder shaped much like a sausage or banana. The egg is inserted into leaves and stems of plants. The truncate end that is flush with the plant surface is where the first instar emerges. Eggs take an average of 8.48 days to hatch at an average temperature of 76ºF. Nymphs molt five times taking an average of 14 days also at an average of 76ºF. Adult females may begin to lay eggs 4 days after mating which can occur within minutes of reaching maturity. Adult males live for an average of 30 days and adult females for an average of 44 days. Five generations occur in the southern states (Beyer 1921, Wheeler 2001).
Locations: Halticus bractatus is distributed throughout eastern US and Canada and as far west as the Rocky Mountains. Southward it is distributed through Central America and South America to Argentina. It is also found in Hawaii, the West Indies and the Galápagos Islands (Day and Saunders 1990, Henry and Wilson 2004, Capinera 2005). Specimens in the CUAC were collected in Anderson, Edgefield, Florence, Horry, Pickens, Oconee, and York Counties in SC; Haywood County in NC, and in Mercer County in PA.
Dates of Collections: In SC collections were made in the months April through September and November. Specimens from NC were collected on June 15 and October 25. The specimen from PA was collected on September 29.
Plant Hosts: The garden fleahopper is a major pest of alfalfa and other legumes, such as bur clover, red clover, sweet clover, white clover and cowpeas (Beyer 1921, Mangan and Byers 1989, Day and Saunders 1990). It is also a pest of many other plants. Vegetable and fruit crops include beans, beets, cabbage, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, tomato, mulberry and peach. Other crops are barley, cotton, oats, rape, rye, sorghum, tobacco and wheat. Ornamental plants affected by this pest are chrysanthemum, gazania, hollyhocks, impatiens, marigolds, morning glory, petunia, purple coneflower, torenia, and verbena. Wild host plants are beggarweed (Desmodium sp.), burdock (Arctium lappa L.), cocklebur (Xanthium sp.), crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.), greenbriar (Smilax sp.), ground cherry (Physalis pubescens L.), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis L.), Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.), maypop (Passiflora incarnata L.), prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola L.), thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.), and ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) (Beyer 1921, Balge et al. 1999, Kelly et al. 2002a, Kelly et al 2002b, Kelly et al. 2003).
Feeding Injury: Garden fleahopper nymphs and adults feed on plant tissues by removing sap from individual cells using their stylets. The results are a white to yellow speckling or bleached look of leaves, defoliation, stunting or death (Beyer 1921, Capinera 2005). In severe cases on flowering ornamentals leaf distortion, flower drop and death can occur (Balge et al. 1999, Kelly et al. 2003). Nymphs and adults also deposit fecal matter on plants that affects appearance and desirability of vegetables and fruits (Capinera 2005).
Balge R, T Blessington, B Butler, E Dutky, S Gill, S Klick, G Rosencrantz and D Ross. 1999. Production of purple coneflower as a cut flower. Maryland Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 731. 6pp. Available from: http://extension.umd.edu/publications/PDFs/FS731.pdf (Accessed 12 June 2011).
Beyer A H. 1921. Garden flea-hopper in alfalfa and its control. United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin 964:1-27
Capinera J L. 2005. Garden fleahopper, Halticus bractatus (Say). Florida Cooperative Extension Services EENY-0078:1-4. Available from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN23500.pdf
(Accessed 12 June 2011).
Day W H and L B Saunders. 1990. Abundance of the garden fleahopper (Hemiptera: Miridae) on alfalfa and parasitism by Leiophron uniformis (Gahan) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 83:101-106.
Henry T J and M R Wilson. 2004. First records of eleven true bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) from the Galapágos Islands, with miscellaneous notes and corrections to published reports. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 112:5-86.
Kelly, R O, B K Harbaugh and R Schoelhorn. 2002a. Evaluation of impatiens cultivars as bedding plants-spring 2001. University of Florida Extension. Gulf Coast Research and Education Center-Bradenton Extension BRA Report 2002-9:1-9. Available from: http://gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu/vtgcrec/VT-Sp01-impatiens%20paper-Final.pdf (Accessed 12 June 2011).
--------------------- 2002b. Evaluation of assorted cultivars as bedding plants-spring 2001. University of Florida Extension. Gulf Coast Research and Education Center-Bradenton Extension BRA Report 2002-10:1-12. Available from: http://gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu/vtgcrec/pages/Assorted%20Paper-Sp01/VT-Sp01-assorted%20paper-Final.pdf (Accessed 12 June 2011).
Kelly, R O, R Schoelhorn, Z Deng and B K Harbaugh. 2003. Evaluation of petunia cultivars as bedding plants-spring/summer 2002. University of Florida Extension. Gulf Coast Research and Education Center-Bradenton Extension BRA Report 2003-2:1-14. Available from: http://gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu/vtgcrec/pages/Petunia%20paper%20VT-Sp02/VT-Sp02-Petunia%20Paper-EmailWeb.pdf (Accessed 12 June 2011).
Mangan R L and R A Byers. 1989. Effects of minimum-tillage practices on spider activity in old-field swards. Environmental Entomology 18:945-952.
Triplehorn, C A and N F Johnson. 2005. Borror and Delong’s introduction to the study of insects. Thomson Brooks/Cole. USA. 864pp.
Wheeler, A G. 2001. Biology of the plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae) Pests, predators, opportunists. Cornell University Press. Ithaca and London. 507 pp.