Eggplant Lace Bug
Both adults and nymphs feed on the leaves of eggplants. The critical period is early spring, when eggplants are still in the seedling stage. The hibernating adults begin to infest plants and lay greenish eggs on the undersides of the leaves, establishing future colonies of nymphs. Nymphs hatch and start to feed on the underside of leaves in groups, covering them with brown frass. The chewing of the leaves results in round, discolored patches clearly visible on the upper side of the leaf blades. As they move and feed outward, the increasing damage causes leaves to turn yellow and eventually they shrivel up and curl. Severe infestation may kill whole plants or weaken them so that fruits fail to develop.
Adults of eggplant lace bugs are light brown and white, with transparent green, lace-like veins in the wings. They are about 4 mm in length and survive in plant debris, waiting for favorable weather conditions to emerge and lay eggs. Eggs are greenish and glued to the undersides of leaves in clusters. Nymphs are wingless, yellow with a dark spot at the tip of the abdomen. Both nymphs and adults damage leaves but while nymphs feed locally on the plant they are born onto, adults fly to other plants and spread the damage in the field. This insect is not yet generally recognized as a specialized egg-plant pest. Yield losses are usually minimal, but in some specific cases, they can be consequent. Beside eggplants, alternative host plants include tomato, potato, sunflower, sage, cotton, nightshades and weedy horsenettle.
Natural enemies of eggplant lace wings include ladybugs, spiders, and pirate bugs and they should be conserved though preventive practices. Insecticidal soaps and neem oil can be sprayed onto the undersides of the leaves.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Broad-spectrum insecticides based on malathion, oxamyl or pyrethrins can be used as foliar sprays.