Common Families Of Terrestrial Bugs In North America
The most diverse family of bugs is the plant or leaf bugs (family Miridae), species of which can be found in terrestrial habitats world-wide. Almost all plant bugs feed on the juices of plants, some species causing important damages to agricultural crops. Important agricultural pests include the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris), which feeds on a wide range of crop plants, the apple red bug (Lygidea mendax), the cotton fleahopper (Psallus seriatus), and the four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus), a pest of currants and gooseberries. The garden fleahopper (Halticus bractatus) is a common, jumping species in gardens and fields, which sometimes causes significant damages.
The assassin bugs (family Reduviidae) are mostly predators of other insects, although many will also give humans a painful bite if they are not handled with care, and a few are blood-sucking parasites. The blood-sucking conenose (Triatoma sanduisuga) sometimes occurs in houses in North America, and can inflict a particularly painful bite. In South America, other species in the genus Triatoma are the vectors of Chagas' disease, a deadly disease of humans.
The ambush bugs (family Phymatidae) are also predators of other insects. Yellow species of ambush bugs are common hide-and-wait predators on species of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) throughout North America.
Seed bugs (family Lygaeidae) are a diverse group of mostly herbivorous bugs. Two common, attractive, redand-black marked species are the small milkweed bug (Lygaeus kalmii) and the large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). The bright, aposematic coloration of these milkweed bugs is meant to deter potential predators, because these insects are distasteful due to alkaloid chemicals accumulated from their food of milkweed (Asclepias spp.). The chinch bug (Blissus leucopterus) is a serious agricultural pest, especially of wheat, corn, and other grains in the grass family, as well as urban lawn-grasses.
The lace bugs (family Tingidae) are herbivorous insects with distinctive, very attractive, finely reticulated patterns on their head, thorax, and wings. The chrysanthemum lace bug (Corythucha marmorata) is common in much of North America, feeding on various species in the aster family, and sometimes occurring in greenhouses.
The leaf-footed or coreid bugs (family Coreidae) are common, herbivorous insects. The squash bug (Anasa tristis) is a pest of pumpkin and squash crops, feeding on the leaves of these plants and causing them to droop and turn black. The box-elder bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) is an attractive, red-and-black colored insect that feeds on species of maples, but does not cause important damages.
The stink bugs (family Pentatomidae) are relatively large and common bugs that produce malodorous smells as a defensive response when they are roughly handled. Many of the stink bugs are brightly colored, for example, the harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica), an important pest of crops in the mustard family, such as cabbages, turnip, and radish.
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