Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Harlequin Bug.
Updated: 10/10/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The many colors and varied patterns on the Harlequin Bug are attractive to observers, but their appetites are really destructive.
The bodies of nymphs and adults of the Harlequin Bug are bursting with color and intricate patterns. This makes them easy to spot on green plants. Some have more orange than red, but all have a hallmark shield-like pattern on them. The nymphs look different from adults; the pattern and coloring on the body changes as they mature.
Harlequin Bugs are native to North America, originally found in Mexico. The range now includes most of the continent. Adults overwinter and become active when warmer weather arrives in spring. Northern populations produce one generation a year, while Southern populations can produce up to three. The colorful nymphs actively feed all summer.
Both adults and nymphs can be found in orchards, citrus groves, farms, gardens, meadows and fields. They are a major agricultural pest and damage a variety of food crops. The insect pierces the soft spots of plants and then drinks its juices. Some popular food choices for this insect include: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, potatoes, beets, beans, grapes, summer squash, zucchini, horseradish, sunflowers, ragweed and citrus leaves.