Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Corythucha ciliata
(sycamore lace bug)



Corythucha ciliata (sycamore lace bug)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Corythucha ciliata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sycamore lace bug
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. ciliata, the sycamore lace bug, is a highly invasive pest insect of plane (sycamore) trees (Platanus sp.). It is likely that its spread is facilitated by human activity, particularly vehicles along majo...

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Adult Corythuca ciliata. Note scale bar.
CaptionAdult Corythuca ciliata. Note scale bar.
CopyrightPeter S. Gillespie
Adult Corythuca ciliata. Note scale bar.
AdultAdult Corythuca ciliata. Note scale bar. Peter S. Gillespie


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Corythucha ciliata Say, 1832

Preferred Common Name

  • sycamore lace bug

Other Scientific Names

  • Corythuca ciliata
  • Tingis ciliata Say, 1831

International Common Names

  • French: punaise réticulée du platane; punaise réticulee du sycamore

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: sit'natka platanova
  • Germany: Netzwanze, Platanen-

EPPO code

  • CRTHCI (Corythucha ciliata)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. ciliata, the sycamore lace bug, is a highly invasive pest insect of plane (sycamore) trees (Platanus sp.). It is likely that its spread is facilitated by human activity, particularly vehicles along major transport routes. Maceljski (1986) states that these insects are “good fliers”, but most authors (e.g. Wade, 1917) suggest that their delicate wings make them weak fliers and that human activity is more likely to lead to the spread of this species.

The occurrence of plane tree hosts will limit the distribution of C. ciliata, but as these trees are widely planted throughout the world in streets and parks as ornamental shade trees, there is considerable scope for their further advance.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Suborder: Heteroptera
  •                             Family: Tingidae
  •                                 Genus: Corythucha
  •                                     Species: Corythucha ciliata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The lace bug family Tingidae, comprises more than 250 genera and approximately 2025 species worldwide (Slater, 1982). Tingids are small to medium sized insects, characterized by areolate reticulations of the pronotum and forewings. The body is roughly ovoid in shape and the head is sometimes armed with dorsal cephalic processes. They have 4-segmented antennae and a 4-segmented labium. Tingids have well developed compound eyes, but ocelli are absent. They have expanded bucculae that sometimes occupy much of the ventral surface of the head. The pronotum often has lateral and dorsal expansions and longitudinal carinae. The hidden scutellum is triangular in the sub-family Tinginae (distinguished from Cantacaderinae where it is visible). Forewings are homogenous, having a hypocostal ridge, but lacking a cuneus. Tarsi are 2-segmenterd, pretarsi without pulvilli. Male genitalia, including the parameres are symmetrical. Larvae often have enlarged, spinose processes over the body, some of which have glandular secretory cells (Australian Faunal Directory, 2008).

The systematic position of the Tingidae has been conjectural. They were placed within the Reduvioidea on the basis of the paired metathoracic scent gland reservoirs and the presence of Brindley’s glands, but Drake and Davis (1960) place them in the Miroidea on the basis of the tingids primary phytophagous habit and numerous morphological features (Australian Faunal Directory, 2008).


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The following descriptions are from Wade (1917):

Adults are about 3 mm in length and 2 mm in width. The insect is flattened dorso-ventrally and the wing covers and pronotum are dilated laterally forming a broadened lace-like covering of the body. The pronotum is inflated anteriorly into a bulbous “hood” which covers the insect’s head. The outer margin of the pronotum and wing covers bear small pointed spines (except for the posterior third); the nervures of the hood, pronotum and wing covers are also armed with a few erect spines. The wing covers each bear a tumid elevation near the anterior inner margin. The body is black, while the hood, pronotal margins and wing covers are whitish except for an irregular brown spot on the tumid elevation of each wing cover.

Egg length is about 0.5 mm, width 0.16-0.18 mm. They are barrel-shaped and rather pointed at the base where it is glued onto the underside of the leaf. The top is not pointed and about 0.1 mm across with a cone-shaped cap resting on a circular base and bearing on the top a number of ridges which converge from the outer margin to the apex. At the apex is sometimes a thread-like filament, usually short. The egg’s colour is black, the cap is a dull whitish, though sometimes dark.

Nymphs progress through 5 instars. Some features are common throughout the nymphal stages: All are armed with spines along the margins of the body and head as well as on the back at different points. These spines are of two main types and quite prominent.

“The first nymphal stage can always be recognized by its more slender, less flattened appearance, the absence of long, spine-bearing protuberances, and by each spine having a blunt tip which is usually enlarged and rounded. The minute spinules found covering the body surface in the succeeding instars are absent in this stage. But five facets are present in each eye.

“The second nymphal stage still has only the one spine on the lateral margin of each of the abdominal segments two to nine, but it now arises from an elongated protuberance instead of a conical base and is pointed, while just inside of this is a trumpet-shaped spine. The body is broader and darker in colour. The antennae are still three segmented, but the lateral margins of the pro- and meso-thorax bear two spines on protuberances and a trumpet-shaped spine just inside of these instead of the single blunt spine on a conical base found in instar one. Each eye has six or more facets.

“The third nymphal stage now has four segments in the antennae, but the wing pads are not developed beyond a faint enlargement. The lateral margins of abdominal segments two to nine have three spines, one on a protuberance, one arising from a conical base, and a trumpet-shaped spine just inside of these. Each eye has fifteen or more facets.

“The fourth nymphal stage is easily recognized by the well developed wing pads which are oval in outline and reach to the second abdominal segment. The anterior margin of the pronotum is extended forward to the eyes, or slightly over them, while the posterior margin is produced into a rounded triangular point or apex at the median line.

“The fifth nymphal stage will be known at a glance by the greatly developed wing pads, rather elongated and reaching to the fifth abdominal segment. The anterior margin of the pronotum at the median line is raised and extended a little forward while the posterior margin is quite distinctly triangular. The lateral margins of the abdominal segments one, two and three are without spines.”


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C. ciliata is a native of North America where it occurs throughout the eastern United States and eastern Canada and is an obligate feeder on plane (sycamore) trees (Platanus sp.). C. ciliata has been recognized as a pest of plane trees within its native distribution (Oszi et al., 2005) as long ago as the early 1900s (Wade, 1917).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-AnhuiPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
-HenanPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-HubeiPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-HunanPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-ZhejiangPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
JapanWidespreadIntroduced2007 Invasive Goro et al., 2003; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Korea, Republic ofWidespreadIntroduced1995 Invasive Malumphy Reid, 2006; Malumphy et al., 2007; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentMutun, 2009; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014

North America

CanadaPresentNativeHalbert and Meeker, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-OntarioPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-QuebecPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
USAPresentNativeHalbert and Meeker, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-ColoradoPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-IllinoisPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-KansasPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
-MainePresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentMcPherson and Weber, 1981; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-OklahomaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
-TexasPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013

South America

ChilePresentPrado, 1990; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014


AustriaWidespreadIntroduced1983 Invasive Maceljski, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014Höpoltseder, 1984 (cited in Maceljski, 1986)
BelgiumPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaPresentIosifov, 1990; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
FranceWidespreadIntroduced1975 Invasive d'Aguilar et al., 1977; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-France (mainland)PresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
GermanyPresentNikusch, 1992; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
GreeceWidespreadIntroduced1988 Invasive Tzanakakis, 1988; CABI/EPPO, 2013; Bella, 2014; EPPO, 2014
HungaryWidespreadIntroduced1976 Invasive Maceljski, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014Höpoltseder, 1984 (cited in Maceljski, 1986)
ItalyWidespreadIntroduced1964 Invasive Maceljski, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014Maceljski and Balarin (cited in Maceljski, 1986)
-Italy (mainland)PresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
-SardiniaPresentMazzon and Girolami, 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentMazzon and Girolami, 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
MontenegroPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
PolandPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
PortugalPresentBella, 2013; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
RomaniaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Russia (Europe)PresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Southern RussiaPresentGninenko and Orlinskii, 2004; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SlovakiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SpainPresentIntroduced1982Maceljski, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014Maceljski and Balarin (cited in Maceljski, 1986)
SwitzerlandWidespreadIntroduced1983 Invasive Maceljski, 1986; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014Wicki, 1983 (cited in Maceljski, 1986)
UKRestricted distributionIntroduced2006 Invasive Malumphy Reid, 2006; Malumphy et al., 2007; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Yugoslavia (former)WidespreadIntroduced1970 Invasive Maceljski, 1986Maceljski and Balarin, 1972 (cited in Maceljski, 1986)


AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroduced2006 Invasive Gillespie, 2007; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-New South WalesRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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Halbert and Meeker (1998) state that C. ciliata was first discovered in Europe in 1964 in Padova, Italy and has now invaded much of central and southern Europe. According to several authors, its spread across Europe occurred in the following manner:

Triest, Italy (1968–69), Zagreb, Rijeka, Ljubljana (1972), Istria (1974), south France (1975), Spain (1978), south Austria (1983), Switzerland (1983), the former Czechoslovakian Republic (1986), Bulgaria (1986), Greece (1988) (d'Aguilar et al., 1977; Driesche, 1985; Maceljski, 1986; Tzanakakis, 1988). C. ciliata was first recorded in Britian in 2006 in Bedfordshire (Malumphy et al., 2007).

The first occurrence of C. ciliata in Korea occurred in 1995 and has now spread throughout the country (Malumphy et al., 2007). C. ciliata was first recorded in Japan during 2007 in Nagoya and upon further investigation was discovered in other major cities including Tokyo, Yokohama, Matsuyama and Kitakyushu (Goro et al., 2003). It is present in Turkey, recorded there for the first time in 2007 (Mutun, 2009).

C. ciliata was probably introduced into New South Wales, Australia in 2006 (Gillespie, 2007). It has spread rapidly within the Sydney metropolitan area (Dominiak et al., 2008) and along major transport routes into regional centres such as Bathurst, Orange, Canberra and Albury by 2009.

Risk of Introduction

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It is assumed that the most common way by which new introductions occur are by being transported on vehicles. Where host plane trees are planted along major transport routes the insects can be moved between locations rapidly once a founder population has been established.


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C. ciliata appears to be an obligate pest of plane trees (Platanus sp.). Wade (1917) notes the following species: Platanus occidentalis as being its particular host within that species’ natural range. P. wrightii and P. racemosa are mentioned by Wade as potential and likely hosts for C. ciliata within their native ranges. Other plane tree species, such as P. orientalis and a number of hybrids also act as hosts to C. ciliata (C Bloomfield, Agricultural Scientific Collections, NSW, Australia, personal communication, 2009) although Wade (1917) did not observe C. ciliata feeding on P. orientalis.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Wade (1917) carried out the most extensive and comprehensive experiments and observations about the life cycle of C. ciliata and the following description of its reproductive biology are from his work. It is worth noting that these experiments were carried out in Oklahoma during the plane tree growing season and adjustments for different climatic conditions would need to be made.

“The hibernating forms, with the approach of warm weather, will come out especially on bright, sunshiny days and swarm about over the trees, but on a cold day they again seek cover. By the time the trees are well in leaf they have ascended to the foliage and are feeding. About ten days are spent in feeding and mating before the females begin ovipositing.

“The eggs are laid along the larger [leaf] ribs, the female seeming to prefer the forks of the ribs where she thrusts the egg, gluing it to the leaf surface and leaving it partially covered by the leaf fuzz. The eggs may be laid singly or in groups of as many as ten. Less frequently the eggs are deposited in larger, irregular patches on the leaf away from the ribs. Each egg is placed on end, usually erect, but frequently inclined to one side. The act of depositing an egg requires about two minutes, during which time the female has the ovipositor thrust forward against the leaf tissue, the wings are slightly spread and braced against the leaf as she leans back on them, they forming as it were, with the body and legs, a tripod for support while she places the egg and covers it with the sticky secretion. This gluey substance is spread over the chorion and in some instances is so profuse as to partially bury the egg. The females frequently seem to have an overabundance secreted which they exude in small drops when not depositing eggs. The number of eggs a female will lay has not been determined definitely. The experiments I began in the insectary in early March this year have not had sufficient time to determine this point, as there are still several females ovipositing. One female began depositing eggs on March 18 and had laid a total of 157 eggs when lost in transfer to fresh leaves. Another began depositing eggs March 18 and had laid 284 eggs up to June 9, when she died after being transferred a distance of several hundred miles. An interesting fact was noted in connection with the number of eggs an individual female will lay. The total number for one female for one day rarely exceeds fifteen, usually from seven to ten, and every other day this number is reduced by about half. The breeding experiments conducted by the writer were carried on in the insectary during March and April before the sycamores outside had put forth leaves, and while not exactly representing natural conditions, they should approximate quite closely the average growing conditions in Oklahoma throughout the summer.

 “It was found that temperature was an important factor in the time required for the hatching of the egg as well as the time necessary for each nymphal stage. The eggs hatch in from fourteen to twenty-one days. Under optimum conditions they hatch readily in fourteen to fifteen days, by far the greater number requiring fifteen days. In hatching, the egg cap is pushed up by the head of the emerging nymph, which gradually forces itself out at the top of the shell by aid of the spines on its back. The thin, delicate membranous sack about the nymph is forced up with it and acts as a support for the small, compressed bug while it is expanding and drying out and extending its legs and antennae. This sack-like pellicle is split along the back after the nymph is partially out of the shell and slips off over the head in front carrying the egg cap with it. The time required from the time the nymph begins pushing up the cap until it is free from the egg is approximately twenty minutes by actual count made on several occasion!.. The newly hatched nymph begins feeding at once and grows rapidly; at the end of the third day it molts [sic] into the second stage. If the temperature is very cool, the time may be extended a day, or even more. The second stage is very much the same as the first, requiring three days to get its growth, or a day or two longer if the weather is cool. After molting [sic] to the third stage, another four days are necessary for, the completion of this stage. I have observed a very few to complete the third stage in three days, but by far the greater number require at least four days under very favourable conditions. The fourth and fifth stages each require at least five days for full development with the temperature and moisture ideal. Thus we see that the time required from the laying of the egg to emergence of the adult, with optimum conditions, is:

Egg: 15 days
First instar or stage: 3 days
Second instar: 3 days
Third instar: 4 days
Fourth instar: 5 days
Fifth instar : 5 days
Total: 35 days

“This time may be reduced to thirty-three days in a few instances when the egg stage lasts fourteen days and the third instar but three days. With cooler weather the time from the egg to adult may often be extended to forty-six days, as was shown by several tests made with the immature forms on a small tree placed near the "cold room" from whence a chilly draft constantly passed over the bugs which were on the lower leaves of the tree. In these experiments adults were isolated in pairs on leaves by means of cloth cages tied about the twigs. The nymphs were very difficult to enclose safely in anything of this type so were isolated as soon as hatched on very small sycamores grown in flowerpots where a careful check could be kept on them. Females from this first generation were observed to lay their first eggs the eighth day following maturity, thus making the time, from egg to egg, forty-three to forty-five days with temperature and humidity approximating summer conditions.”

Physiology and Phenology

Because of the intimate dependence of C. ciliata on their temperate host tree (Platanus sp.) it is unsurprising that these insects can endure similar climatic conditions. Wade (1917) states that C. ciliata can tolerate temperatures as low as -10°C while over-wintering under the bark of host trees. However another author (Chauvel 1988, cited in Malumphy et al., 2007) found that these insects were capable of surviving temperatures as low as -30°C, when well protected under bark platelets and in leaf/bark litter. 


According to Wade (1917), Drake and Ruhoff (1965) and Halbert and Meeker (1998)C. ciliata feed exclusively on the leaves of plane trees (Platanus sp.). Although according to Oszi et al. (2005) they can also feed onBroussonetia papyrifera, Carya spp. and Fraxinus spp. On plane trees the nymphs congregate in groups around the major leaf ribs on the underside of the leaf, toward the leaf petiole and feed in the typical manner of other hemipterans. Adults and nymphs pierce leaf cells and extrude the cell contents. Adults, while more mobile than nymphs, do not move far from the leaves they are feeding on and make short flight only, and only when necessary. Heavy infestations can result in significant damage to plane tree leaves leading to premature abscission.


C. ciliata are found on leaves in association with other insects such as long tailed mealy bugs, Pseudococcus longispinus, (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), (Environmental Tree Technologies Pty Ltd, 2008). On foliage they have also been found to associate with thrips, spiders and mites (C Bloomfield, Agricultural Scientific Collections, NSW, Australia, personal communication, 2009). Under bark during winter they are commonly found in association with species of Reduviidae (Assassin Bug) nymphs, spiders and mites. It seems reasonable to suggest that these winter associations largely represent a feeding guild with the C. ciliata as the food source (C Bloomfield, Agricultural Scientific Collections, NSW, Australia, personal communication, 2009).

Environmental Requirements

C. ciliata will only establish where plane trees are available as hosts and are considered temperate pests. They are hardy and can withstand hot conditions during summer (e.g. summer temperatures frequently reach 38°C and higher). During winter adults will seek shelter under the bark of plane trees and can withstand temperatures of -10°C (Gillespie, 2007). Those insects that survive the over-wintering period will emerge in spring and breed rapidly when temperatures are increasing and the host trees begin to produce the new season’s leaves.

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -30
Mean annual temperature (ºC) -10 40
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -10

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Achaearanea lunata Predator Adults/Nymphs
Alternaria alternata Pathogen Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Anthocoris nemoralis Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Aptus mirmicoides Predator Adults/Nymphs
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen Adults Italy; Italy; Sicily Platanus acerifolia
Cheiracanthium mildei Predator Adults/Nymphs
Chrysoperla carnea Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Chrysoperla rufilabris Predator Adults/Nymphs
Deraeocoris flavilinea Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Deraeocoris lutescens Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Deraeocoris nebulosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Fusarium oxysporum Pathogen Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Lecanicillium lecanii Pathogen Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Mantis religiosa Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Mucor hiemalis (entomopathogenic strain of -) Pathogen Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Nabis pseudoferus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Oecanthus pellucens Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Orius horvathi Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Orius insidiosus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Orius majusculus Predator Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Orius vicinus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Paecilomyces farinosus Pathogen Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Penicillium citrinum Antagonist Adults/Nymphs Italy Platanus acerifolia
Rhynocoris iracundus Predator Adults/Nymphs

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Wade (1917) has observed one immature Chrysopid and several assassin bugs (Reduviidae) feeding on C. ciliata nymphs, also a “few spiders, and a red mite (unidentified). This mite is found attached to the head or body and does not appear to be a common parasite on this host.” Wade (1917) goes on to suggest that other insects such as Coccinellidae (lady-bird beetles) and Carabidae (ground beetles) would prey on C. ciliata, but did not directly observe this.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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While C. ciliata are capable of dispersing over short distances by flight or by walking, it is likely that the main method of spread is made possible by human activity, such as vehicle movement. As plane trees are frequently planted as street trees lining major roadways, movement of C. ciliata over long distances can be further facilitated in this way.

Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

According to Maceljski (1986), natural movement of C. ciliata can occur over many kilometres as, he states, “they are very mobile and are good fliers”, Maceljski qualifies this by stating that their flight needs to be supported by wind. Other writers (e.g. Wade, 1917; Halbert and Meeker, 1998) suggest that these insects will fly only over short distances and that their wings are fragile and easily damaged. However they are excellent walkers and will disperse throughout plane tree stands where tree canopies are touching (C Bloomfield, Agricultural Scientific Collections, NSW, Australia, personal communication, 2009).

Accidental Introduction

Authors generally agree that the majority of long distance dispersal of C. ciliata is facilitated by human activity (e.g. Maceljski, 1986; Halbert and Meeker, 1998; Gillespie, 2007; Mutun, 2009). The following is an example of the generally accepted scenario and supported by personal observation (C Bloomfield, Agricultural Scientific Collections, NSW, Australia, personal communication, 2009):

The host species (plane trees) of C. ciliata are commonly planted as ornamental street trees, as such they line roadways, parking areas and areas of high traffic. C. ciliata can be transferred from the tree canopy onto vehicles parked underneath the trees or blown from the canopy by passing vehicles. They can then be transported long distances (or shorter distances within the same town/city) on the vehicles and be blown, brushed (or fly) onto plane trees in the new locality. It is also possible for C. ciliata to fly, be blown or brushed onto human pedestrians and moved about in similar ways.

C. ciliata, being difficult to see when in small numbers, can remain unnoticed until founder populations have increased to the extent that damage to foliage becomes apparent by which time the insects may already have been spread to new areas.

Intentional Introduction

While documented new incursions of this pest suggest that its transmission has been accidental it is possible for deliberate introductions to take place.

Economic Impact

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Plantation forestry is by its design subject to pest outbreaks (Coyle et al., 2005). Platanus occidentalis, the American sycamore, is an important host tree for C. ciliata and its native range extends across much of the eastern USA and is a valued timber tree in the south (Coyle et al., 2005). While C. ciliata can cause considerable damage due to premature leaf drop it does not appear to be a primary pest in the forestry context, but heavy infestations may require chemical treatment.

Environmental Impact

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The major impact of C. ciliata in a non-forestry context is on the de-foliation and possible demise of mature street and ornamental host trees. It may be necessary in some situations to undertake control measures. However where trees become stressed because of climatic factors these control measures are likely to have only partial success. Monitoring trees for infestation and appropriate management of water stress may also be required.

Social Impact

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Plane trees are grown as forestry trees in many countries (e.g. North America) (Coyle et al., 2005). They are also used as ornamental trees in parks, gardens and as street trees where they provide shade for vehicles and pedestrians alike. C. ciliata can cause considerable damage to its plane tree hosts during the growing season resulting in premature leaf abscission, leaving the trees partially or completely de-foliated. This is exacerbated during dry seasons and the additional stress this causes the trees in combination with C. ciliata herbivory can compromise the long-term survival of the host, several consecutive years of heavy C. ciliata infestation combined with dry seasons may kill mature trees (Barnard and Dixon, 1983).

C. ciliata can become a major nuisance when in large number and located in plane trees in public areas, such as outdoor cafes (d’Aguilar et al., 1977).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field


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Identification of appropriate host, detection of frass eggs, nymphs and adults on leaves will almost exclusively diagnose this pest in non endemic areas.

Detection and Inspection

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Detection of C. ciliata infestation can be made by regular monitoring at intervals throughout the summer. The adults, nymphs and eggs and their frass are clearly visible on the underside of the host tree’s leaves. The characteristic white stippling of leaves is the first indication of infestation, this will progress throughout the season to leaf bronzing, chlorosis and eventually leaf drop. The pattern of damage typically starts from the center of the leaf and progresses towards the leaf tips.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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C. ciliata can be readily distinguished from the azalea lace bug (Stephanitis pyrioides) by presence of pointed setae around perimeter of the body. While similar in appearance to the Florida oak lace bug (Corythucha floridana) and the cotton lace bug (C. gossypii) C. ciliata can be distinguished in the following way: cells on the swollen part of the hood are slightly larger than on the paranotal area. The hood is only slightly higher than the median carina in lateral view. There is a brown spot at the base of the tumid elevation in each electron and there may be darkened veins near the posterior ends of the elytra (Halbert and Meeker, 1998).

It is also the only lace bug that feeds exclusively on plane trees (Drake and Ruhoff, 1965). Halbert and Meeker (1998) state that the association with the host trees should be considered diagnostic for the presence of C. ciliata.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Control of C. ciliata centres on chemical methods as discussed below. It is not usual for plane trees to be treated at all where planted as street and ornamental trees. However this may becomes necessary in cases of heavy pest loads, but needs to take place in the context of appropriate monitoring of pests and tree stress due to other factors (e.g. climatic and environmental).

Chemical control

C. ciliata are highly susceptible to the chloronicotinyl insecticide Imidacloprid. This is most effectively delivered by tree injection directly into the xylem tissue of the tree. According to Environmental Tree Technologies Pty Ltd, tree injection works rapidly and has good persistence and as the chemical is locked within the tree; it has no environmental impact as with other methods such as soil injection or canopy spraying (Environmental Tree Technologies Pty Ltd, 2008).


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Links to Websites

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Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit - Entomology
Gillespie, P.S. (2006) NSW DPI Primefact - The Sycamore Lacebug


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15/12/09 Original text by:

Bernie Dominiak, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 21, Orange, New South Wales 2800, Australia

Peter Gillespie, NSW Department Primary Industries, Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit, Forest Rd, Orange, NSW, 2800, Australia

Distribution Maps

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