Agriculture: Eggplant Pest Management Guidelines

Lygus Bugs

  • Lygus hesperus and others
  • Description of the Pest

    Adults are yellowish, brownish, or greenish bugs, about 0.3 inch (7–8 mm) in length, with a conspicuous triangle in the center of the back that is tinged brown, red, or yellow. Nymphs resemble adults, but are uniformly pale green with red-tipped antennae and have no wings. Lygus feed on the fruit or seeds of many crops, including alfalfa, beans, sugarbeets and safflower, as well as a wide range of weed hosts. They can move to eggplant when their primary hosts dry or are disturbed, such as when alfalfa is cut, crops are harvested, or weedy fields dry down or are removed.

    For additional information on identifying lygus bugs, see A Field Key to the Most Common Lygus Species Found in Agronomic Crops of the Central San Joaquin Valley of California, (PDF) UC ANR Publication 8104.


    Lygus bugs feed by injecting phytotoxins into floral structures such as flower buds or small fruit. This feeding causes the floral structure to abort within days of feeding, and the structure is shed from the plant. Damage symptoms appear as dropped buds on the ground, and while there are several causes of fruit abscission (shed), lygus bugs are a primary culprit. Losses of floral structures relate directly to loss in yield as each bud or flower represents a potential fruit.


    Because eggplant is maintained in a reproductive state for a long period of time through an extended harvest period, new fruiting structures can be vulnerable throughout the season. This makes management difficult because lygus bugs can migrate into a field at anytime, depending on the crops or weeds that surround the field. After the first floral buds appear, the plant remains susceptible to damage for the remainder of the season.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    There is no published sampling method for lygus bugs. Sweep nets can be employed to locate populations and to determine the relative population levels, but the numbers are not related to damage. Walking through the fields during periods of warm temperatures causes the insects to fly off, so briskly walking and sweeping gives a better estimate of their numbers. The IPM guidelines for cotton and the sweep net techniques described may be somewhat useful with eggplant lygus populations (see

    Observations of flower and bud abscission coupled with presence of the pest on plants has been used by field personnel to make treatment decisions, but no reliable data are available to confirm these decision processes. Confirm that lygus is in the field because fruit drop may also be caused by heat. The use of sweep net samples to detect the presence of immature lygus bugs is a good indication of a resident population.

    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
      (Beleaf 50SG) 2–2.8 oz 12 0
      COMMENTS: Research is lacking on the effectiveness of this insecticide in eggplants, but it has proven to be effective against lygus and aphids in other crops such as cotton and not as detrimental to natural enemies as the other products registered.
      (Belay) 3–4 fl oz 12 7
      COMMENTS: Toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Rimon) 9–12 fl oz 12 1
      (Pounce 25WP)* 6.4–9.6 oz 12 3
      COMMENTS: Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Lannate SP)* 0.5–1 lb 48 5
      (Lannate LV)* 1.5–3 pt 48 5
      COMMENTS: This material will also control armyworm. More effective against a resident population than a migrating one. Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Danitol 2.4 EC)* 10.66 fl oz 24 3
      COMMENTS: Do not exceed 2.66 pt/acre per season. Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (Malathion 8) Label rates 12 3
      COMMENTS: Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
    ** See label for dilution rates.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment until harvest can take place. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of these two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest may take place.
    1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    Text Updated: 12/11
    Treatment Table Updated: 05/16