Harlequin Bugs

Harlequin Bugs

These handsome black-and-orange pests are found largely in the southern half of the country. Shield shaped and 1/4 inch long, the harlequin is a type of stink bug, releasing a foul odor when disturbed. Its highly distinctive eggs resemble neat rows of tiny white barrels with black hoops. Both adults and nymphs suck plant sap.

Target: Primarily cole crops; many other plants are also attacked.

Damage: Yellowish patches appear on leaves. Heavy feeding can kill a plant.

Life cycle: Adults overwinter in debris, then lay eggs on leaf undersides. Nymphs feed for a few weeks after hatching. There are usually three or four generations annually, but in the Deep South, breeding can go on all year.

Notes: Handpick adults when they first appear in spring. To lure them away from crops, place cabbage leaves elsewhere in the garden; destroy the decoyed bugs daily.

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