Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

I have been bemoaning the absence of ladybirds in my garden this year, so you will understand how excited I was when last night I spotted a flash of red on one of my roses. Unfortunately, when I stopped for a proper look, I saw a lot more little red bugs and it was clear that although these were indeed red with black spots, these were no ladybirds. They are about the size of ladybirds, but they were looking and behaving suspiciously like something else.

The image immediately put me in mind of the little red bugs I had recently  looked at on a Roselle in Bangchik’s lovely  ‘My Little Vegetable Garden’ blog which at the time had reminded me of one of my arch enemies in the garden. Hmmm…

Sure enough when I looked closer still I noticed that an adult Harlequin bug was amongst the little critters. Some comparisons between body shape and markings could be made. The little critters have red boddies and vague black markings on their bodies unlike the distinctly pattered adult Harlequin, but share the same body shape as the adult and a little white dot half way up the antenna (which you can’t really see in the photos, sorry).

I blame Harlequin bugs for some badly damaged rose buds in my garden, but in fairness I’ve never spotted them doing the damage. The bud they are clustered on in the photo looks none the worse for wear for them being there, but we shall see!

The large bug is certainly a harlequin bug!

Apart from the fact I’m not keen on insecticides and figure things generally balance themselves out bug wise in the garden,  I’m staying my hand to learn a few things…

Question one – Can I find any more evidence to confirm if these little beasts really are young Harlequin bugs?

Question two – Will they chew through my rose bud and prove they deserve my wrath?

Question three – Will a natural predator turn up and deal with them? If so who and how?

I’ll update as investigations develop!

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Comments on: "When a ladybird isn’t a ladybird at all!" (8)

  1. Elephant's Eye said:

    I posted about our ‘red shield bugs’. Similar to yours. There were thousands of them on the Melianthus. Couple of weeks later, the bugs have dispersed. Melianthus is fine,and the roses are too!

  2. I will take heart from your observations Elephant’s Eye! I just popped by to look at your post of the shield bugs and was amazed at your photographs! Can’t wait to be back to explore more tomorrow!

  3. They look similar to my red bugs hiding on roselles. Distant cousins maybe… haha. ~bangchik

  4. They look suspiciously like the nymph-stage of your Harlequin bug there. You can try using Google to search for images of Harlequin bug nymphs for species that might be common to your area to confirm the ID.

    However, at least for most Harlequin bugs, natural predators include spiders, and I would expect some insect eating species of birds. For now I’d resort to a blast of water from a hose if you see heavy concentrations on some of your rose buds. I’m sure that a natural predator or two in your garden is eager for a tasty tender snack. Good luck!

  5. Oh, I do hope they are not damaging the rose buds. They would appear to be juvenile Harlequin bugs because of their similarities to the adult. Please let us know what you find out….

  6. Thanks for your comments Bangchik, ‘Curbstone valley’ and Noelle! It’s taken some digging but the internet has finally revealed that they are indeed larval harlequin bugs- Dindymus versicolor. Aparently tricky to identify as there is much variance in colouration! More observations as to any damage done soon!

  7. Once in a while, I see these bugs too. Children like to play with them. I’m not sure about what they eat but I’d very much like to know. I think they look rather pretty, no wonder they are called harlequin bugs.

  8. Hi Autumn Belle! My daughter is fascinated by them, but a little wary of touching them, which is strange as she likes bugs! I’ve been doing a bit more research on the Harlequin Bugs and will post this very soon.

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