Cactus Bugs by Wizzie Brown

What Are These Bugs on My Cactus?!

Red Cactus coreids swarming on a prickly pear pad

Early signs of damage by these insects are round, yellowish spots on cactus pads.

Cactus coreids or cactus bugs, Chelinidea vittiger, are shield-shaped insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts. They are most commonly red but can vary in color. They have distinctive antennae; if you look at the antennae in cross section, they are triangular in shape. Adults have fully developed wings while immatures, or nymphs, do not and are sometimes mistaken for weevils. Cactus coreids feed in groups on prickly pear cactus. Often the first indication of damage is round, yellowish spots on the cactus pads. If left unchecked, feeding areas can increase in size until they cover entire pads causing a yellow, pitted appearance.

Use Least Toxic Solution For Control

If you feel the need for management, try high pressure water sprays, hand-picking or squishing, or vacuuming them off the plants. Insecticidal soap can be utilized on smaller stages but may not work as well on larger nymphs and adults. You could also use a contact pesticide, either naturally derived or synthetic. If you eat the fruits or pads, avoid using systemic products which are taken into plant tissue.

About Wizzie

Wizzie Brown

Wizzie Brown
County Extension Program Specialist – Integrated Pest Management

Wizzie has been with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service since 2002 and has been playing with insects since she was a toddler. She is an Extension Program Specialist with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Wizzie holds a B.S. in entomology from The Ohio State University and a M.S. in entomology from Texas A&M University. The integrated pest management program provides identification, biological and management information to whomever needs help. Wizzie’s research focuses on imported fire ants, including community wide fire ant management. Wizzie also is happy to provide programs to area groups on a variety of arthropod-related topics. You can find insect and other arthropod information on Wizzie’s blog.

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