The Tingidae, known as lace bugs, is a family of true bugs containing around 2,500 species in about 300 genera. Of these, 50 genera and 95 species have been intercepted at US ports of entry, with over 40% of interceptions associated with cargo entering the U.S. (the AQAS PestID database queried on June 26, 2018 revealed 2,284 total records). These genera comprise 17% of world genera and include many economically important pest species.

In this tool we compile interception information, high quality photographs of the intercepted species, diagnostic characters for each genus, and an illustrated interactive key to the intercepted genera. TingID is an identification resource primarily designed to be used by USDA identifiers, though it can be used by others, including non-experts, who may encounter lace bugs in a regulatory capacity and have a need to identify them. This tool's primary aim is to enable rapid identification of lace bug specimens encountered at U.S. ports, thereby facilitating action on infested imported commodities.

Why is a tool for intercepted lace bugs necessary?

Lace bugs are known to cause damage to agricultural crops, ornamentals, and fruit-bearing shrubs and small trees. Lace bug adults and nymphs generally feed in groups on the underside of leaves, causing pale stippling, deformity, and plant decline. Among the economically important host plants of tingids in the U.S. are almond, apple, avocado, banana, cherry, coffee, cotton, eggplant, olive, pear, sugarcane, and several herb and spice species. Some genera produce flower galls. A few transmit root wilt of coconut, a non-lethal but economically damaging disease of coconut palms in India, while others facilitate transmission of fungal diseases. Interceptions have occurred on various commodities, particularly in plant materials (leaf, flower, cutting, fruit, and root) from all world regions but mostly from warmer countries.

Identification tools for Tingidae are lacking or inadequate for rapid species identification by port identifiers. Consequently, many intercepted specimens are identified only to family or genus, which triggers quarantine of the infested commodities until a course of action is determined. This delays movement of commodities and ties up scarce port resources. Species-level identification avoids unnecessary quarantine action by linking specimens with their most appropriate quarantine or non-quarantine status.

This tool was created to address this identification need. By focusing on those species that have been intercepted at U.S. ports, TingID hones in on those taxa of concern and most likely to be encountered again. Tool fact sheets for the 50 intercepted genera feature photographs of the intercepted species, and an interactive identification key to the genera is linked to the fact sheets and photos.

Of the 50 genera covered in this tool, 80 percent include species currently determined to be quarantine pests, based on USDA-APHIS quarantine records captured on January 15, 2020. TingID includes interception information for easy reference: fact sheet tables show origin and hosts of intercepted species though 2018. The tool also provides a ranked list of the most-intercepted lace bug taxa. It is recommended, however, to consult APHIS records for the latest interception and quarantine information.

Is my specimen a lace bug?

Members of the hemipteran family Tingidae are plant-feeding insects and are usually called lace bugs due to the lace-like appearance of their dorsum, which is formed by a reticulated network of ridges on the pronotum and hemelytra. Other common characteristics of tingids include lack of ocelli, two-segmented tarsi, four-segmented antennae, and antennae with a very short second segment.

Please keep in mind that, because this tool covers just the genera and species intercepted at ports of entry, it is possible you may encounter a lace bug specimen that is not one in the tool. It is therefore important that, if you are not confident about your identification after reviewing relevant tool fact sheets and images, you should confirm the identification of your specimen with an expert.