The Q&A Archives: Flower Garden Beetle Id

Question: Attempting to identify flower garden beetle that resembles lady bug: red, to middle of back,with black geometric pattern. Most notable is silver shield from middle of back to rear. What is it? Is it hostile to plants, and if so how to eradicate?

Answer: It's really difficult to identify an insect based upon a description, but I'll provide a few leads for you. Insects with a distinct shield on the back are members of the family Hemiptera. These are called true bugs and most true bugs are plant-eaters. I'm guessing the insect in question is a Harlequin bug. These critters feed mostly on flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables, including Brussels srouts, cauliflower, cherry, citrus, kohlrabi, mustard, radish and turnip. For a positive identification, look in Rodale's Color Handbook of Garden Insects. There are loads of pictures to help you narrow down the possibilities. Once you've positively identified the insect you can use one of the control measures suggested in the book. Be sure to read and apply according to label directions.

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