Insidious flower bugs (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae: Orius insidiosus) are probably one of the best-known members of the minute pirate bug family. These tiny insects only reach about 2 mm in length but they’re of significant economic importance to agriculture. They feed predominantly on pestiferous plant mites, thrips, aphids, and other soft-bodied insects that can cause serious harm to crops. Each one of these predatory bugs can consume over thirty mites each day, sometimes discarding one half-eaten mite to grab another. Because of their effectiveness at controlling pest insects they’re often used in integrated pest management (IPM) and they’re sold commercially for greenhouse, orchard, and farm use.
Insidious flower bugs are most often found in agricultural areas where crop pests abound. Last month I found a number of them near the edge of a corn field here in southeast Michigan. These bugs sometimes supplement their diets of pest insects with flower pollen, and the individuals I observed happened to be feeding on the pollen from a white aster (Asteraceae).