No. 14 Article 9/June 24, 2005

Burrower Bugs Make an Appearance in Several Fields

Matt Montgomery, crop systems Extension educator for Sangamon/Menard counties, and others have identified burrower bugs in cornfields and soybean fields. These small insects, which resemble stink bugs, are once again creating noise in isolated areas. The burrower bug is a small insect (about 8 millimeters long), slightly smaller and more oval than a stink bug. Burrower bugs also have very small spines on their lower legs and have a white border around the thorax and abdomen. Most burrower bugs can be found beneath objects such as stones, boards, and tufts of grass. They may also be found around porch lights in the evening, occasionally in very large numbers.

Burrower bugs (photo courtesy of Matt Montgomery, University of Illinois Extension).

Burrower bug nymphs and adults spend the greater part of their existence feeding on roots. Adults may also be found on the foliage of plants. However, it is unlikely that burrower bugs are causing much damage, if any, to corn and soybean plants. In fact, burrower bug infestations have been linked to fields that have been heavily infested with weeds such as henbit, purple deadnettle, and horsenettle. In the spring, when nymphs hatch from eggs, the female burrower bug cares for the nymphs by bringing weed seeds to them for a short while.

We doubt that control measures for burrower bugs are ever necessary, but you should be aware that you may encounter these insects during your scouting trips.--Kelly Cook

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