Photographer: Andy Calderwood (2008) Source: www.bugguide.net Copyright: CC BY-ND-NC 1.0
Adult Description: The African cluster bug (Agonoscelis puberula) is 8-10mm long with a yellow body that may have red tint to the wings. On the dorsal side of the abdomen there are black marks that look like punctures arranged in stripes. there are distinct coarse black hairs or spines on the abdomen as well. A scent glad is located at the end of the abdomen.
Larva Description: Eggs of Agonoscelis puberula are typically laid in the fall resulting in nymphs that are brown in color with similar markings to that of the adult eith dark stripes on the dorsal sides instead of puncture-like dots found on the forewing of the adult.
Host Plant: Thyme, Flax, Coffee tree and the invasive weed, horehound.
Ecological Threat: Agonoscelis puberula is a threat to farmers' crops of thyme, flax and coffee trees. It has been known to significantly effect winter fruit yields in Africa and remains a possible threat in the Southern United States.
Biology: Agonoscelis puberula are usually found in large groups and are rarely found as individuals or in pairs. It is an important indication if one is located because that could mean hundreds are nearby. An individual seed of horehound may contain a cluster of 30 adult African cluster bugs.
History: Agonoscelis puberula is native to Africa and is believed to have been introduced into Mexico as early as 1985, but was not discovered in the United States until 1990.
Native Origin: Africa
U.S. Habitat: The African cluster bug prefers hot climates that have little fluctuation in temperature. The variety of host plants can range from invasive weeds on the side of the road to fields of thyme or flax.
U.S. Present: AZ, FL, NM, TX
Texas Present: Concho County near Eden, TX
Agonoscelis puberula is often mistaken for Prionosoma podopiodes. However, it is argued that the Agonoscelis genus has overlapping species within the genus Trichopela. They are anatomically similar but vary phenotypically in the markings on the forewing membrane.
Distant, W.L. 1921. The Heteroptera of Indo-China, Family Pentatomidae. The Entomologist 54: 3-6.
Gross, G. 1976. Plant-feeding and other bugs (Hemiptera) of South Australia. Heteroptera- Part I. A.B. James, South Australia.
Thomas, D.B. 2003. The African Cluster Bug, Agonoscelis puberula (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae), established in the New World, Florida Entomologist 86(2): 151-153.