Sunday, October 13, 2013

Those Insidious Flower Bugs

I love this time of year.  The sun is deliciously warm without making me sweat and the nights are the perfect kind of cool for sleeping with the windows open.  The fall aromas range from that organic woodsy smell to the crisp freshness of cooler air.

Here in farm country, the second we walk out the door, we can also smell the dry corn as it's being harvested. The sharper angle of the sun bathes everything in its regal golden light.  The leaves are changing colors and they're illuminated by that sun against a deep aqua sky.  We're still hearing the cicadas in the late afternoon and the birds are twittering as they flock in large numbers in the trees.

Squash soup, pumpkin pie, and apple dumplings are common fare. Thanksgiving is a short month away and frost is imminent.  Spider webs float in the air and the gardens are producing the last of their summer fruits.  What a wonderful season autumn is!

Except for those insidious flower bugs.

These days, all it takes is a few short minutes of being outside and you want to go back in again.  You feel a pinch and when you look to see what the cause is, you can't hardly believe that this itty bitty (and I do mean itty bitty) black bug is capable of delivering such a relatively big bite.  Commonly known as the insidious flower bug, the Orius insidiosus can be a really annoying pest.

Insidious Flower Bug (Orius insidiosus)
To the naked eye, they appear to be largely black, but a closer look shows
that they've got beige and silvery colors on their wings.

While it's tempting to want to take drastic measures to stop them dead in their tracks, they're actually a beneficial insect.  They dine on midges, spider mites, and the eggs of many plant pests, including aphids, corn borer, and white fly.  And though the bite is disproportionately painful to humans, and some people are hypersensitive to their bites (raises hand!), experiencing localized swelling and irritation, the insects aren't known to be carriers of any harmful diseases.

Frost will kill them but until then, insect repellents may be effective in keeping them off humans. Keeping skin covered will help avoid bites as well, but they're so small - 2 to 3mm in length - that they can enter homes through the holes in window screens, so even staying inside isn't a sure way to avoid them.

They're just so...insidious.

* Photo of Insidious Flower Bug courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Sarah Shoesmith said...

What a lovely picture of autumn you paint with your words!

You have my deepest sympathy when it comes to insect bites - some people have such extreme reactions and they last for ages. I am pleased though, that you don't go around killing these beneficial creatures.

This is a lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Other than the Insidious Flower Bugs, it sounds like you are having a wonderful autumn. : )

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