Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bug Profile: Harlequin Bug

By Nina Berryman

Many of the students wrote about the Harlequin bug in their biographies. The harlequin bug is a beautiful but devastating insect that loves to eat plants in the Brassicaceae family (including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, collards, mustards, turnips and radishes). It is about 3/8 of an inch long, and has the markings and coloring of a lady bug, but is shaped like a shield when it is mature. Sexually immature bugs are rounder. It lays eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs are white with a black dot and are deposited all in a row. The harlequins cause damage by sucking juices from plant leaves, causing them to wilt, brown and then die. They can decimate plants as they reproduce and feed quickly! I suspect they are called harlequin bugs because their markings resemble the symmetrical geometry typical of harlequin clowns!

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