Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter (2018)
Common Name(s): minute pirate bug, Pirate bug
Adults are tiny (1/8 inch) black bugs with white markings at the base of the front wings (hemelytra), resulting in a band-like appearance across the body when wings are at rest. Wingless immature stages (nymphs) are orange. Insects in this family (Anthocoridae) are occasionally mistaken for chinch bugs (family Blissidae), particularly in the early nymphal stages.
Origin and Distribution
Orius species are most common in the eastern United States, although they occur across the southwestern United States to Utah and southern California, then south into Mexico and Central and South America (Herring 1966). They also occur in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and many other islands of the West Indies (Herring 1966). There are at least eight species found in the United States.
Habitat & Hosts
Nymphs and adults prey upon a wide variety of arthropods including aphids, chinch bugs, springtails, plant bugs, thrips, eggs and small larvae of corn earworms, whiteflies and spider mites. Sucking mouthparts are inserted into prey and body fluids are removed. When corn earworm eggs are plentiful, Orius sp. eat about one egg per day. They are important natural enemies of pests of many agronomic and horticultural crops including corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans. They may also feed on tender plants. Anthocorids can be found on many kinds of plants, particularly agricultural crops, where they can be abundant. Some Orius species are sold commercially for augmentative biological control releases.
Orius species are capable of using their sucking mouthparts to bite humans. The insidious flower bug, O. insidiosus (Say), is often the more abundant species in east Texas.
Adults overwinter in protected habitats such as in leaf litter. Female Orius sp. insert eggs into plant tissue. Nymphs develop through several stages (instars) before becoming winged adults. Development from egg to adult takes approximately 20 days, and there are several generations per year.
ManagementIf you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.
Orius species are considered to be beneficial; nymphs and adults prey on a number of small arthropod life stages.
Marshall, S. A. (2006). True Bugs and Other Hemipteroids . In S. Marshall (Ed.), Insects Their Natural History and Diversity . United States : Firefly Books Ltd.
Herring JL. 1966. The genus Orius of the Western Hemisphere (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 59: 1093-1109.
University of California: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/NE/minute_pirate_bug.html