Scientific name: Nysius huttoni White
Native range: New Zealand
Federal and state regulations may be implemented if the wheat bug is discovered in Minnesota. Actions in response to a discovery could include restricting movement of materials that could harbor wheat bug as well as measures to suppress the growth of or to eradicate any infestations.
Wheat bug has recently been introduced to Belgium and the Netherlands (discovered in 2002) as well as Britain (discovered in 2007). Wheat bug has never been detected in the U.S.
Wheat bugs are not strong fliers and are not considered able to spread quickly through adult flight. It is most likely that wheat bug is moved on plants that are being shipped. Plant parts from New Zealand or from Europe could potentially introduce wheat bug to the U.S.
In New Zealand N. huttoni is reported to have 2-4 generations per year and in Britain at least 2 generations have been identified. Adults are the overwintering stage and spend the winter in plant material or debris on the ground. The presence of mosses have been suggested as possibly important for adult overwintering. Feeding is concentrated on weeds and Brassicaceae hosts early in the year and then, if the right conditions are present, they may invade cereals later in the year. Both nymphs and adults attack similar hosts and have similar habits. Adult N. huttoni exhibit wing polymorphism with three forms of wing development identified – only one of the forms is capable of flight.
The wheat bug is a small insect about 2.5mm long. Final confirmation will require an expert, but field screening can be done with the help of a screening guide available from USDA APHIS.
There are 12 native Nysius species in the United States and an exotic species, Nysius vinitor (not in U.S.) that could be confused with N. huttoni, not to mention many other bugs that are less closely related.
Host Plants and Impact - Wheat bug has a broad range of both weed and crop plant hosts. In New Zealand, it has mainly been observed as a pest on wheat and mustard (Brassicaceae family) crops. A wide variety of plants could be potential hosts for wheat bug in the U.S., including alfalfa, apple, barley, beets, canola, broccoli, kale, lettuce, mustard, oats, rye, strawberry, sunflower, turnips, and wheat.
The MDA is monitoring for wheat bug as part of our Pathway Survey during 2016.
Contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture via Arrest the Pest if you suspect an infestation of wheat bug in Minnesota.
Last Updated: August 19, 2016