18 October 2009

Squash That Bug

The cleome was tall, spindly, and dying at the end of summer. This is normal for many plants, and never having grown cleome before, thought it was normal. Upon cutting the plants down to tidy up the garden, hundreds of black and yellow beetle-like bugs were found covering the stems and some leaves. Most were thrown out with the plants.

Two weeks later, as I was tending to zinnias adjacent to the cleome bed, the same bugs were found on the zinnias. The cooperative extension was called, but was not much help over the phone. I went to the Bug Guide online to visually identify them as friend or foe. Nothing matched. I registered, posted my photo of the rascals, and someone responded. It turns out that they were on the bug site, but I was looking in the wrong place.

These are harlequin bugs, in the family of stink bugs, found in the southern US as far north as Pennsylvania and Colorado. They can be nasty critters that suck juices out of the plants. When I learned of this, I went out to the zinnias to commit bugicide, but found they had all flown the coop. I guess they got wind that I was onto them, and decided to feast elsewhere, for fear of the gardener's wrath.

The bug info page says they overwinter, so I will be watching for them in March. They can be picked off by hand, but with hundreds, there are faster ways of population control. Fortunately, I did not find any eggs.

For The Record:
  • Found on zinnia and cleome

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming:canna, zinnia, nasturtium, castor, aster, pink cosmos
  • Harvested: 1 pepper


J.C. said...
Ick. Thanks for the warning. I'll be on the look-out.
Cool Garden Things said...
Yikes...makes me think of "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock...
Swimray said...
Nothing to worry about JC. These critters don't venture farther north than Pennsylvania.
Swimray said...
I visited Mount Vernon (on a special 'National Treasure' movie tour) today and in the garden found some cleome growing in George Washington's garden. Upon examination, there were a few harlequin bugs on it.