Oak Lace Bug – Treatment & Control

Close-up of an oak lace bug on a green leaf.
Image Source: Forest Research

Oaks are one of the oldest trees worldwide, and an oak lace bug affects its overall sophistication.

Oak trees are important as they depend on a whole ecosystem for survival and habitat. As a result, it is vital to keep your oak tree or shrub thriving and in good health.

Oak trees can defy most leaf and wood-eating insects, but these pesky creatures may damage your tree after some time. If your oak tree is unhealthy, you should come to its rescue and treat or control the pests immediately, such as oak lace bugs.

Lace bugs attack many deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. And they often infest and destroy white oaks. They often infest and destroy white and burr oaks.

And when lace bugs infest your oak tree, more likely that your tree is affected superficially.

So if you boast the aesthetics of your tree, which is highly visible to the public eye, then oak lace bugs would be a big problem. However, lace bug-infested oak trees did not lose their ability to store starches and sugars in the summertime.

And the inflicted damage is often minimal.

These oak lace bugs often make the upper surface of the lead yellow, containing pale spots, as they feed on the leaf’s lower surface.

And if your oak tree is terribly infested by oak lace bugs, then its leaves would appear as if they have been bleached out.

They also cause leaf curl as well as premature leaf drops.

The bugs typically go undetected in their early stages of development and may only be recognized after multiplying several times.

Oak lace bugs can be a nuisance to your tree as they affect its beauty and ability to produce food, weaken the plant, and reduce its vigor.

What Do Oak Lace Bugs Look Like?

Oak lace bugs are tiny insects with lace-like wings. They have three growth stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. Oak lace bug eggs are usually small and laid on the underside of the Oaktree leaves.

They lay their eggs in a pattern recognized as a “miniature Stonehenge,” often mistaken as their excrement. The Oak lace bug nymph stage does not feature any lacey wings.

However, both nymphs and adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts.

This part removes sap as it feeds on the bottom of the leaf. When oak lace bugs are not controlled, they may make the tree vulnerable to diseases, insects, and undesirable weather.

And if the infestation continues for a long time, the tree may die. This post will help you deal with oak lace bugs by discussing ways to treat or control these bothersome creatures.

Before that, here is how to detect lace bugs on your oak tree or shrub.

How To Detect Oak Lace Bugs

Oak lace bug damage can be easily detected by looking at the bottom of the leaves. These insects lay their eggs on the bottom of the leaves, where the nymph develops into adulthood.

However, when damage occurs, it can easily be noticed on the upper surface of the leaf.

Since oak lace bugs feed on the underside of the leaves by sucking fluids from the tree’s photosynthetic tissues, this leads to the pale stippling and bleaching on the upper surface of the leaves. This normally occurs in mid to late summer.

The lace bugs on the underside of the leaves also cause specks of brown to black, varnish-like excrement to emerge.

This excrement may drip beneath the surface of the damaged leaves. In some cases, the stippling of leaves may be confused with classic leaf scorch or oak spider mites.

But with a close inspection, you can determine that it is an oak lace bug infestation.

How To Treat and Control Oak Lace Bugs

Oak lace bugs are common on white oak trees. When the Oak lace bugs start invading your oak tree, you may not know until the leaves change color.

Even with the leaf discoloration, you should not include spraying as one of the treatments or control of these insects. Nonetheless, if you were to spray tall oaks, you would need large spray volumes of insecticides to remove lace bugs.

What’s more, the oak lace bugs cause minimal damage and don’t considerably impact oak trees. With that said, you still have to control them, so they don’t become a problem.

There are several ways of controlling oak lace bugs.

What’s more, these insects are easy to control.

This is because they only feed on oak leaves, not any other plant. For instance, an oak lace bug cannot feed on azalea, while the azalea bug cannot feed on the oak tree.

Another thing is that lace bug damage is not very serious to the tree and only makes it look unpleasant. You can remove oak lace bugs and other harmful insects from your tree with proper care and maintenance.

Besides, you should cease using insecticides as they may impact non-harmful species living on the oak tree.

Only use an insecticide if an integrated pest management professional recommends it.

1. Natural Control

This is the easiest way of controlling oak lace bugs. Make sure you grow your oak tree in an area that doesn’t experience extremely hot conditions. Oak lace bugs thrive best in very hot environments.

Additionally, give your tree the right amount of water as it grows.

Apart from that, you should give it proper care. Another way of dealing with lace bugs is by leaving the soil beneath the oak tree bare. Also, you can cultivate the soil several times during winter.

Furthermore, planting other tree species in your garden can deter oak lace bugs. This helps to prevent the spread of the oak lace bugs. Additionally, you can plant trees that are lace bug resistant.

These will help to deter the spread of oak lace bugs on your landscape.

2. Biological Control

If you don’t want to get rid of oak lace bugs using natural methods, you can also utilize biological methods.

You can introduce insects that feed on lace bugs in your garden or landscape.

Such insets include lacewing larvae, parasitic wasps, pirate bugs, mites, jumping spiders, predatory assassin bugs, and lady beetles.

All of these insects feed on lace bugs.

However, introducing them into your garden or landscape can be challenging.

So, the best way to attract these insects is by growing different flowering trees and plant species on your landscape.

Within no time, you will see these beneficial insects in your garden. In addition, they will help to control the oak lace bug population by feeding on them.

Moreover, you should introduce these insects when the oak lace bug population is high.

3. Use a High-pressure Garden Hose

If you don’t have the time and patience to apply natural or biological methods to eliminate oak lace bugs from your tree, you can use a high-pressure garden hose to remove them.

Since spraying insecticides is not the best solution for eliminating lace bugs, you can use a high-pressure garden hose.

Use a high-velocity stream of water from your garden hose to knock off the oak lace bugs from your tree.

The right time to remove the oak lace bugs is early spring when they are in their nymph stage.

4. Use Insecticides

Insecticides should be the last option if all the above methods fail to work. Before you use any insecticide, make sure to get in touch with a pest management professional.

This is because insecticides have adverse effects, such as contaminating water, causing second outbreaks, and poisoning natural enemies and pollinators.

Additionally, an insecticide should only be applied if there are a variety of oak lace bugs on the tree or if you expect the numbers to increase rapidly.

Using the insecticide is easy by spraying it on the underside of the leaves. This is the most efficient way if you don’t want to miss them. Nevertheless, this may be challenging for individuals with a big oak tree.

Spray the insecticide during spring when the lace bugs’ nymphs are large. Repeat the procedure at least twice to ensure you knock off a huge population of oak lace bugs. With so many types of insecticides on the market, picking the right type is vital.

The most popular insecticides include systemic insecticides and contact insecticides.

Systemic Insecticide

Among these three types of insecticides, systemic insecticide is the best for oak trees. Since the systemic insecticide is absorbed by one plant part, it can be applied to the roots or trunk of the tree and transferred to other parts.

The trunk absorbs the insecticide faster and should be the best way to administer the insecticide to oak trees. Unlike roots, it will reach the leaves quicker and quickly get rid of the bugs.

Contact Insecticide

On the other hand, contact insecticide is very effective in controlling oak lace bugs. Also, they do not leave behind a strong, toxic residue and are not very harmful to pollinators and enemy species.


Oak lace bugs can make your oak tree look ugly or out of shape. This is because they suck out the sap from the underside of your tree leaves, leaving the leaves discolored.

With the various treatment and control methods discussed above, you can eliminate these pesky insects and have peace of mind. However, you should start by trying out natural remedies before using insecticides.

Overall, these insects have a minimal impact on oak trees.

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment below!


  • Lydia Beaumont

    Lydia Beaumont is a go-to expert in interior design, known for her knack for stylish table settings, blending houseplants seamlessly with home decor, and designing inviting outdoor spaces. She has a real talent for making spaces look stunning while keeping them comfortable and livable. Lydia's creative touch brings a fresh and vibrant feel to any room or garden she works on.

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