NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

Skip to Description and Biology

The azalea plant bug, Rhinocapsus vanduzeei, is a small bug about 1/8 inch long. It is brown to dark brown on top and orange underneath. It feeds primarily on the anthers of azaleas and plants related to azaleas. The bug feeds mainly on or within azalea flowers but can be found resting on the foliage. When disturbed on a leaf, the bugs quickly dodge to the underside, then pop up on the opposite edge. Immature azalea plant bugs are smaller and bright red with white antennae and white feet. On certain red-flowered varieties of azaleas the nymphs are well camouflaged. Females lay their eggs in azalea stems and the bugs seem to die out by mid-July. The eggs hatch about the time that azaleas bloom. The newly hatched nymphs feed mainly on the petals and stamens. After azaleas have finished blooming, adult azalea plant bugs disperse to raspberries and a variety of ornamental trees and shrubs such as spirea and plum.

An azalea plant bug nymph.

An azalea plant bug nymph.

Host Plants

Skip to Host Plants

The newly hatched azalea plant bug nymphs feed mainly on the petals and stamens where they have been observed to pierce both the filaments and anthers and even shed pollen grains. After azaleas have finished blooming, these bugs disperse to raspberries and a variety of ornamental trees and shrubs such as spirea and plum. These bugs also sometimes bite people as they tend to their azaleas (not with extraordinary pain, but the bite causes a noticeable, itchy welt).

Residential Recommendation

Skip to Residential Recommendation

Although this pest is not as destructive to the appearance of azaleas as is the azalea lace bug, people may object to being bitten. A number of pesticides are labeled for plant bug control all of which should work well. Sevin is probably the most readily available. Home garden pesticides containing pyrethrins and resmethrin also should work well.

References

Skip to References
  • An annotated list of the Miridae of Georgia (Hemiptera-Heteroptera). Henry, T. J. and C. L. Smith. 1979. Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 14: 212-220.
  • An annotated list of the Miridae of West Virginia (Hemiptera-Heteroptera). Wheeler, A. G., et al. 1983.Transactions of the American Entomological Society 109: 127-159.
  • A potential insect pest of azaleas. Wheeler, A. G., Jr. and J. L. Herring., 1979. Quarterly Bulletin of the American Rhododendron Society 33: 12-14.
  • Rhinocapsus vanduzeei Uhler, A Little Known Pest of Azaleas. Miller, III, W. C. 1993. The Azalean/September 1993. 58-59.
  • Observations on North American Capsidae, with descriptions of new species (No. 5). Uhler, P. R., 1890. Transactions of the Maryland Academy of Sciences 1: 73-88.
  • The plant bugs of the prairie provinces of Canada. Heteroptera: Miridae. Part 8. Kelton, L. A., 1980. In: The Insects and Arachnids of Canada. Agriculture Canada Research Branch Publication 1703: 408 pp.
  • Insect and Related Pests of Shrubs
  • Extension Plant Pathology Publications and Factsheets
  • Horticultural Science Publications
  • North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual

For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: May 18, 2013
Revised: Aug. 29, 2019

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.