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Lace Bugs


Lace Bugs(Family Tingitidae.)
The curious little bugs of this family have rather aptly been termed "lace bugs" by Comstock from the fact that the wing veins are thickened and form a lace-like pattern in most of the species. These insects are all small, have two-jointed feet and usually knobbed antennae. They are all plant-feeders, and the brown, rusty appearance which the leaves of certain trees, notably sycamores, acquire in summer is due to their attacks.

Rather more than three hundred and fifty species are known of which twenty-five inhabit the United States, but there are, undoubtedly, many unnamed and undeveloped forms. As a rule the eggs are laid in leaves and young twigs and the whole life of the insect is spent in sucking sap. They usually overwinter as adults hidden away in bark crevices. There are two subfamilies and the members of one, Piesminae, are not so lace-like as are the others, the Tingitinae.

Life History of the Hawthorn Lace Bug
(Corythuca arcuata Say.)
More than twenty years ago I saw most of the leaves of a Hawthorn tree at Washington turning brown and rusty and on examining them found the beautiful little Tingitid, present in all stages of development. Projecting from the leaf surface in groups of from ten to thirty along both sides of the prominent leaf veins were certain minute brown funnelshaped objects which were found to be the eggs. Each egg is laid on end and is covered with a brown sticky substance which rapidly hardens and holds it to the leaf surface. This brown gum adheres so strongly to the egg that it is impossible to remove it without crushing the egg, and it is more copious near the base so as to give the appearance of an actual insertion into the leaf tissue. The top of the funnel has a porous cap which the insect removes in emerging.

The newly hatched bug grows rather rapidly and casts it skin five times before becoming full grown. While yet immature it is of the same dirty-brown color as the substance covering the egg and but little darker than the withering leaf. It is of a broad, flat, oval shape, and spines seem to project from almost every portion of its body. It looks, under the microscope, more like a lobe of prickly cactus than anything else. A sticky honey dew is excreted by these bugs and their cast-off skins adhere to the leaf and make it appear as if there were many more insects present than is actually the case. During the winter the dead leaves under the trees were found to contain living and healthy eggs, but the insect customarily hibernates as a full-grown and winged bug.