AppearanceThe andromeda lace bug is about 3 millimeters in length. It has a characteristic rounded pronotum, lacy black and white wings, and shiny gold highlighting.
DistributionStephanitis takeyai was introduced into the USA from Japan in about 1945 and became a serious pest of
Pieris japonica (Thunb.) D. Don ex G. Don and other ornamental Ericaceae (Dunbar 1974).
In Europe, the species was first recorded in the Netherlands (Boskoop) in 1994 and followed soon by the reports about its occurrence in other countries. It has already been observed in Great Britain (1995), Poland (1998), Italy (2000), Germany (2002), Belgium (2003), France (2004), the Czech Republic (2008), Hungary (2011) and Austria (2011) (Soika and Labanowski 1999; Colombo and Limonta 2001; Homes et al. 2003; Streito 2006; Hradil et al. 2008; Friess 2011; Vétek et al. 2012).
ReproductionThe lace bugs colonise mostly the lower surface of leaves. Eggs are laid on leaves along the midrib coated with an adhesive material that soon hardens and forms a protective coating. After hatching, nymphs begin to feed in small clusters near empty eggshells and adults. During early nymphal stages they move very little, remain grouped in small colonies and feed on the leaves. Their development passes through five nymphal instars and one generation develops within 25–70 days. Several generations are produced each year and the exact number of generations depends on the length of growing season. They overwinter in the egg stage on broad-leaved evergreens and hatch from late April through May (Dickerson 1917; Drake and Ruhoff 1965; Hoover 2003; Hradil et al. 2008).
FoodStephanitis takeyai is reported to be polyphagous in Japan and other countries where it has spread, attacking host plants of several unrelated genera including Aperula, Azalea, Cinnamomum, Diospyros, Illicium, Lindera,
Lyonia, Pieris, Pinus, Rhododendron, Salix, Sassafras and Styrax (Drake and Ruhoff 1965; Mead 1967; Wheeler 1977; Watanabe 1983; Tsukada 1994; Wang et al. 1998). In Japan, S. takeyai is known to exhibit non-obligate seasonal host alternation between P. japonica, the winter host, and the other major host, a deciduous shrub
Lyonia ovalifolia (Wall.) Drude var. elliptica (Siebold and Zucc.) Hand.-Mazz., the summer host. If L. ovalifolia is scarce, S. takeyai may continue to feed on P. japonica throughout the year (Tsukada 1994).
A spectrum of host species and preference to specific plants was studied in the USA, where the andromeda lace
bug became a serious pest of Ericaceae. A preferred host was P. japonica, but non-significant damage also occurred on Rhododendron spp. and Vaccinium spp. that could serve as reservoirs for the pest (Nair et al. 2012).
The bug produces mottling on the leaves of the plant, and heavy infestations can cause the leaves to drop in large numbers, stunting the plant's growth. Both nymph and adult forms damage the leaves by piercing them to suck the juices, and leave dark frass on the undersides of the leaves. Damage is worst on plants that grow in full sun.
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