How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Avocado lace bug (family Tingidae) occurs in parts of the Caribbean, Mexico, and southeastern United States. As of 2006, in California it occurs only in San Diego County. Also known as the camphor lace bug, its only known hosts are various Persea species and the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), which is grown as a landscape ornamental and commercially for its aromatic extracts.
Lace bugs do not feed on fruit. Adults and nymphs feed in groups on the underside of leaves. This sucking pest causes chlorotic blotches on foliage, which become necrotic. Severely damaged leaves may drop prematurely. Defoliation can result in sunburned fruit and wood and stressed trees, reducing subsequent yield.
Adults are about 0.08 inch (2 mm) long oval shaped insects with a dark (black or brownish) head and thorax. Their abdomen, antennae, legs, and wing covers have both dark and light (orangish, yellowish, or white) areas. Nymphs are mostly dark and orangish, resembling the adults without wings. Eggs are laid on leaves within shiny black globs of excrement. Insects develop from egg to adult in about 1 month during warm weather and have several generations a year. All stages can be present throughout the year.
Relatively little is known about this insect in California. Populations increase during summer, and high populations and severe foliage damage occur in California on some untreated avocado trees. Avocado lace bug is an intermittent pest in Florida on avocado.
An important component of managing avocado lace bug is preventing its spread into uninfested areas. Do not move uncertified host material or dirty bins from infested areas. Clean bins and other potentially infested equipment and materials before bringing them into groves, as lace bugs may survive and spread on leaf debris. Conserve resident natural enemies that prey on lace bugs, including lacewing larvae and predatory thrips. The introduction of natural enemy species is being researched in an effort to provide classical biological control. At least two species of parasitic wasps kill avocado lace bug eggs in Florida, an unidentified species in the family Mymaridae and an Oligosita sp. (Trichogrammatidae).
Do not treat low populations of lace bugs. If populations are increasing and are anticipated to cause extensive foliage damage or premature leaf drop, where feasible make a foliar spray of short-persistence contact materials such as oil or pyrethrin. Avoid persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides, which can disrupt biological control of other pests in avocado. Certain systemic insecticides can be very effective and may be available for application through irrigation systems.
Sprays of pyrethrin (PyGanic) and certain oils are acceptable for use in an organically certified crop.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Avocado