What are Pirate Bugs?

What are Pirate Bugs?

Pirate bugs, also referred to as “minute pirate bugs,” are very small insects that belong to the group of plant-eating pests like aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, and thrips. These pests are usually unnoticeable insects that spend time feeding on their prey. However, some species uncover themselves by biting humans, usually during summer and autumn.

Frequented Areas of Pirate Bugs

Pirate bugs are typically found throughout North America. These pests thrive in farmland and gardens, mainly during the warm days of summer when food is abundant. Once they mate, they can rapidly populate their habitat since it only takes about 20 days for them to Minute pirate bug nymph.jpgmature.

Normally, they can be seen in places where their food source is found. As such, pirate bugs like caterpillars and corn earworm, will dwell and lay eggs in areas where there are flowering plants and agricultural crops.

Identification – Physical Characteristics of Pirate Bugs

An adult pirate bug measures about 2-3 millimeters long. Having an oval-shaped body that is usually black in color, these pests also have whitish markings that can be seen on their wings. The young pirate bugs called nymphs would be smaller and have a teardrop-like shape. Unlike adult pirate bugs, the nymphs come in various colors, including yellow and orange.

Both nymphs and adult pirate bugs are able to kill their prey using their needle-sharp beaks – a very powerful feature that enables them to pierce and suck juices from their prey. Compared to other bugs, pirate bugs do not excrete venom or suck blood. Using their needle-sharp beaks, they will drain and kill their prey by sucking enough juice or fluid from your flowering plants or agricultural crops.

Special Characteristics of Pirate Bugs

Having a very distinct stinging bite that can be exceedingly painful, the minute pirate bugs could really stand out. The insidious flower bug, for instance, will use its thin beaks to prick your skin. The flesh where the bug bit you will become red and swollen just like a mosquito bite. However, for some individuals, there may have no mark and can sometimes even be painless.

Removal or Preventative Procedures

 Regulating and removing pirate bugs can be hard because of their small size. However, in some instances, it is not necessary to do pest control measures since they come in seasonally, resulting in the decrease of plant-eating pests. Still, you may consider doing some of the precautionary measures listed below if you cannot bear a pirate bug infestation:

  • During warm days, wear dark clothing to keep pirate bugs from biting you
  • Wear clothing such as long-sleeved shirt and long pants when you go outdoors or when gardening
  • Pirate bugs are active during daytime. Avoid going outdoors during these hours.
  • Lessen the flowering plants that can be found in your garden

 In store or Chemical       

To control pirate bugs, you may use insecticides that are readily available both in gardening stores and online. Nonetheless, you need to be careful when using insecticides as it may cause harm to the environment or kill beneficial insects that are of great help in your garden. Prior to purchasing insecticides, seek for a pest control professional’s help.


Minute pirate bug nymph.jpg


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