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Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Harlequin Bug



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The many colors and varied patterns on the Harlequin Bug are delightful to observers, but their appetites are woefully destructive.



Updated: 07/24/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The orange, black, and white bodies of nymphs and adults of the Harlequin Bug are bursting with colors and intricate patterns. This makes them easy to spot on green plants. Some are more red than orange, but all have a hallmark shield-like pattern on them. An orange cross sits in the center and a white dot typically marks each top corner of the shield. The nymphs look different from adults; the pattern and coloring on the body changes as they mature. Nymphs are mostly black and very round. An orange diamond near the head is followed by a trio of white marks beneath it. White, thin wavy lines cross the abdomen, but are interrupted by an orange band on each side.

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.

Harlequin Bugs are native to North America, originally found in Mexico. The range now includes most of the continent. Adults overwinter in debris and dried up vegetables left to rot in a garden bed. They become active when warmer weather arrives in spring. Northern populations produce one generation a year, while Southern populations can produce up to three. The nymphs actively feed all summer long.





General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Pentatomidae
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          Genus: Murgantia
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            Species: histrionica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Murgantia histrionica
Other Name(s): Calico Bug, Fire Bug
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 0mm to 0mm (0" to 0")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, orange, red, white
Descriptors: stripes, spots, multicolored, flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 0mm and 0mm
Lo: 0mm
Md: 0mm
Hi: 0mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Harlequin Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Harlequin Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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