A gardener's true ally, the Spined Soldier Bug guards fruits and vegetables from the destructive forces of plant eaters.
Adult and nymph forms of the Spined Soldier Bug look very different from each other. This may lead to the unfortunate removal of young ones from their habitat: fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Nymphs are round-bodied and small, coming in a variety of color variations depending on their age. Young ones are red and black. Older forms have short elytra (wing coverings) that may be brown with black edges, or completely black. The abdomen has orange-red center with black patches and yellow or white stripes crossing it. Adults are brown with black marks on the tips of the clear wings. A spine juts out of each 'shoulder'. A long dagger-like extension at the face pierces insect prey.
The immensely varied diet of the Spined Soldier Bug includes many insects that harm plants. Armyworms, cabbageworms, bean and potato beetles, and other types of caterpillars and borers are all eaten, reducing their population sizes. Females lay small, round fertilized eggs on leaves. Many broods can be produced each year, helping gardens maintain a constant biological control for pest insects. A Spined Soldier Bug among fruits and vegetables is a welcome sight.
Scientific Name: Podisus maculiventris
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 13mm (0.31in to 0.51in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.