Ahoy, mateys! Meet the minute pirate bug, Orius insidiosus.
Despite its lawless name, this be one of Florida’s Good Bugs!
As the photo above will show ye, the minute pirate bug cleaves through whitefly nymphs like a fine cutlass. Aye, and the bug’s hearty appetite helps ornamental and garden plants cope with thrips and mites, too.
And, by Davy Jones, the word “minute” in the name be correctly pronounced as “my-NOOT,” as in “small.” Not “MINN-utt” as in “60 seconds,” that’s what a scurvy swab would say!
The bug ’tis a mere eighth of an inch long. About the size of a sesame seed, for you landlubbers.
And ’tis said the minute pirate bug earned its name because it packs a powerful bite in a wee small body, much like a well-armed pirate galleon. Fear not, this bug be non-aggressive and only acts to defend itself from rough handling.
Certain crops, includin’ cotton, okra and bell pepper, have structures called domatia that offer shelter and food to the minute pirate bug and other similarly sized predators, y’see. This way, the pirate bugs can survive and reproduce even if prey becomes hard to find. Yarr! ‘Tis a win-win situation.
Finally, as befits a buccaneer, the minute pirate bug be associated with gold. It be sold commercially and used for biological control in greenhouses.
Here ye can read more lore o’ the minute pirate bug.