Verde plant bugs, Creontiades signatus Distant (Hemiptera: Miridae), were released onto caged cotton, Cossypium hirsutum L., for a 1-wk period to characterize the effects of insect density and bloom period of infestation on cotton injury and yield in 2011 and 2012, Corpus Christi, TX. When plants were infested during early bloom (10-11 nodes above first white flower), a linear decline in fruit retention and boll load and a linear increase in boll injury were detected as verde plant bug infestation levels increased from an average of 0.5 to 4 bugs per plant. Lint and seed yield per plant showed a corresponding decline. Fruit retention, boll load, and yield were not affected on plants infested 1 wk later at peak bloom (8-9 nodes above first white flower), even though boll injury increased as infestation levels increased. Second-year testing verified boll injury but not yield loss, when infestations occurred at peak bloom. Incidence of cotton boll rot, known to be associated with verde plant bug feeding, was low to modest (< 1%  to 12%  of bolls with disease symptoms), and drought stress persisted throughout the study. Caging effect was minimal: a 10% fruit retention decline was associated with caging, and the effect was not detectable in the other measurements. Overall, reduced fruit retention and boll load caused by verde plant bug were important contributors to yield decline, damage potential was greatest during the early bloom period of infestation, and a simple linear response best described the yield response-insect density relationship at early bloom. Confirmation that cotton after peak bloom was less prone to verde plant bug injury and an early bloom-specific economic injury level were key findings that can improve integrated pest management decision-making for dryland cotton, at least under low-rainfall growing conditions.