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Poecilocapsus lineatus

Adult four-lined plantbug. Photo: Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.
Scientific Name: 
Poecilocapsus lineatus
Common Name: 
Four-Lined Plant Bug
Growing Degree Days (GDD's): 
90–1500 GDD's (approx.), Base 50F, March 1st Start Date (Source: Robert Childs, UMass Extension.)
Host Plant(s) Common Name (Scientific Name): 
Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Deutzia (Deutzia spp.)
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Rose (Rosa spp.)
Sumac (Rhus spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Weigela (Weigela spp.)
Insect Description: 

The four-lined plant bug feeds on over 250 plant species, many of which are herbaceous. The woody ornamental plants that are sometimes fed upon by this insect are included in this guide. The four-lined plant bug overwinters as eggs which are inserted into the tender shoots or water sprouts of certain host plants. Females use their ovipositor to cut a slit in the tissue of the plant, into which the eggs are inserted. Clusters of eggs may be seen when leaves drop in the fall. Egg hatch may occur in late April or May in Massachusetts. Nymphs develop over the course of approximately 30 days. The color of the nymph varies as it matures, from bright red to bright yellow/orange and they have short developing wing buds during this life stage. Some eggs may hatch late, leading to an extended period over which nymphs are present. After 5 nymphal instars (molting in between each), the insect matures into an adult which is also brightly colored - forewings are bright yellow or bright green with four distinct black lines. Adults are approximately 3/16th of an inch long with fully developed wings and present for approximately one month. Adults feed on the upper surface of host plant leaves, but may be easily disturbed and quickly fly away or hide from view. There is one generation per year.

Damage to Host: 

Feeding injury from both the nymphs and adults causes black or brown disease-like spots to form on the foliage of numerous hosts. The injured areas may turn black or appear translucent. After a few weeks, the necrotic tissue may drop from the plant leaving small holes behind. Some plants can outgrow the damage caused by this insect in the same season.


Scout for tiny yellow spots that may indicate early spring feeding by this insect, prior to the necrotic tissues turning brown or black or dropping from the leaves. The insects themselves, due to their hiding behavior, may be difficult to detect. Try sweeping the foliage on plants suspected to have four-lined plant bug damage with a net to catch them.

Cultural Management: 

Prune out and destroy eggs laid in tender shoots or water sprouts prior to hatch in the spring; note that eggs can be extremely difficult to see and locate. On herbaceous hosts, thoroughly cutting back growth at the end of the season and disposing of that material may help remove overwintering eggs.

Natural Enemies & Biological Control: 

Natural enemies of the four-lined plant bug are not well known at this time. A predatory wasp larva, Cirrospilus ovisugosus, is known to feed on four-lined plant bug eggs, and may be capable of destroying entire egg clusters. A certain species of jumping spider, Phidippus clarus, has also been reported as a possible biological control agent of the four-lined plant bug (Borden and Dale, 2016).

Chemical Management: 

Acephate (NL)

Acetamiprid (L)

Beauveria bassiana (NL)

Bifenthrin (NL)

Carbaryl (L)

Chlorpyrifos (N)

Chromobacterium subtsugae (NL)

Clothianidin (NL)

Cyantraniliprole (NL)

Cyfluthrin (NL)

Deltamethrin (L)

Dinotefuran (NL)

Flonicamid+cyclaniliprole (N)

Gamma-cyhalothrin (L)

Horticultural oil (L)

Imidacloprid (L)

Insecticidal soap (NL)

Isaria (paecilomyces) fumosoroseus (NL)

Lambda-cyhalothrin (L)

Neem oil (NL)

Permethrin (L)

Spinetoram+sulfoxaflor (N)

Tau-fluvalinate (NL)


Active ingredients that may be applied systemically include: acephate (injection), acetamiprid (injection), clothianidin (soil drench), cyantraniliprole (soil drench, soil injection), dinotefuran (soil drench), imidacloprid (soil drench), and neem oil (soil drench).

Make insecticide applications after bloom to protect pollinators. Applications at times of the day and temperatures when pollinators are less likely to be active can also reduce the risk of impacting their populations.

Note: Beginning July 1, 2022, neonicotinoid insecticides are classified as state restricted use for use on tree and shrub insect pests in Massachusetts. For more information, visit the MA Department of Agricultural Resources Pesticide Program.

Read and follow all label instructions for safety and proper use. If this guide contradicts language on the label, follow the most up-to-date instructions on the product label. Always confirm that the site you wish to treat and the pest you wish to manage are on the label before using any pesticide. Read the full disclaimer. Active ingredients labeled "L" indicate some products containing the active ingredient are labeled for landscape uses on trees or shrubs. Active ingredients labeled "N" indicate some products containing the active ingredient are labeled for use in nurseries. Always confirm allowable uses on product labels. This active ingredient list is based on what was registered for use in Massachusetts at the time of publication. This information changes rapidly and may not be up to date. If you are viewing this information from another state, check with your local Extension Service and State Pesticide Program for local uses and regulations. Active ingredient lists were last updated: January 2024. To check current product registrations in Massachusetts, please visit: .