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Harlequin Bugs Are No Treat

(credit: Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Uninvited guests in orange and black costumes crawling all over your yard – it sounds like Halloween but it’s scary for a different reason – they’re Harlequin bugs.

Originally from Central America, these brightly colored bugs destroy plants in the cabbage family – including cauliflower, kale, collards, as well as radishes – but are also happy to suck the life from the leaves of everything from melons and peas, potatoes, to tomatoes, grape vines, peach trees and raspberry bushes.

Besides crops, they love Cleomes, which some gardeners use as a trap to lure them away from food plants.

Harlequin bugs are easy to see and don’t bite but they can make a stink if you smoosh them – so flick them into a container of soapy water, or suck loads of them into a shop vac along with some soapy water so they’ll drop down and drown.

Adults lay tidy rows of tiny black and white barrel shaped eggs underneath leaves – watch for those in the spring. But for now, get rid of any adults and clean up garden debris – because that’s where harlequin bugs like to overwinter.

Learn more: GrowIt.UMD.edu/plantandpestproblems.

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