False Chinch Bugs on the Move
I've had some calls the last few days concerning really large concentrations of bugs showing up in strawberries. This can be common depending on the year but it's good to know what they are so you don't freak out and do something that isn't necessary like put on a hard spray that messes with your biological controls.
The bugs are false chinch bugs, which while belonging to the same insect family as lygus, do not cause significant damage to the plant outside of the contamination their large number represents (which can be substantial, see photos below). They tend to be more common in years with cool, wet springs - sounds a lot like 2020 - and migrate into the field once the surrounding vegetation dries down. The big migration usually lasts about a week, and since most of the movement takes place in the cool of they day, it could be worth a try to sprinkle surrounding areas to keep them at the side of the field.
Link below from UC IPM for home owners and gardeners, with good info on life cycle and management.
Thanks all for keeping me in the loop.
False chinch bugs aggregating on strawberry fruit. Photo courtesy Amber Schat.
Close up: False chinch bugs gathering on strawberry fruit - probably after the moisture. Photo courtesy Amber Schat.
Another view - note that the bugs are not gathering on the leaves, just the fruit. Photo courtesy Amber Schat.