Although associated mainly with weeds, especially Chenopodiaceae, this generally common bug also occurs on various crops, including brassicas, celery, legumes, potato, strawberry, sugar beet and glasshouse-grown cucumber.
Most damage is caused to seedlings and to the growing points or young leaves of older hosts. Infestations are especially important on sugar beet and often result in the development of multiheaded plants. Damage may also occur on strawberry, attacked fruits becoming malformed and, hence, unmarketable.
This species overwinters in the adult stage, amongst debris or under leaf litter in hedgerows, dykes and other situations. The bugs appear in the early spring and immediately begin to feed; they often then invade field crops. The adults are very active and scurry or fly away when disturbed. Eggs are laid in the stems or other parts of host plants, usually in May. Nymphs appear from late May or early June onwards. They pass through five instars and take up to 2 months to mature. In most regions there are two generations annually, and second-generation nymphs reach adulthood in September or October.
Adult up to 6 mm long, extremely variable in appearance but usually dark brown to reddish-brown. Egg 1mm long, creamish-white, flask-
shaped. Nymph pale yellowish-green to brownish, with a distinct orange mark on the abdomen and a pair of black spots on each thoracic segment.
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