Harlequin cabbage bug

Murgantia histrionica

The harlequin cabbage bug , also known as calico bug, fire bug or harlequin bug, is a black stinkbug of the family Pentatomidae, brilliantly marked with red, orange, yellow and white markings.
Harlequin Bug Nymph (Murgantia histrionica ) On a piece of kale (grown at a nearby organic farm). It can be a crop pest, so I'm not surprised to see it on my produce! Geotagged,Harlequin cabbage bug,Murgantia histrionica,Summer,United States

Appearance

It is a major pest of cabbage and related crops in the Brassicaceae, as well as the ornamental flower cleome throughout tropical and North America, especially the warmer parts of the United States.

Nymphs are active during the summer and in the tropics the bug can achieve three to six generations a year. In the northern range there is only one generation annually and the insects overwinter as adults in crop residues or field edges. Organic control involves hand-picking the insects off the plants and being especially careful to remove and destroy all the eggs, which are black-and-white striped, laid in clutches of twelve.
Harlequin Bugs At Fort Smallwood This is a picture of Murgantia histrionica at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena, Maryland. Geotagged,Harlequin cabbage bug,Murgantia histrionica,Summer,United States

Food

Harlequin bugs are phytophagous insects. Adults and nymphs feed on the stems and leaves of plants such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnip, radish, horseradish, mustard and rapeseed, and often cause blotching by their piercing-sucking feeding. These plants are economically important and are abundant in crop fields but when they are not in production, harlequin bugs are able to feed on wild plants as well.

Cruciferous plants such as cabbage produce mustard oil glycosides which give them a stinging flavor. This chemical compound is sequestered by harlequin bugs and stored in the prothorax as they feed. The adult bugs have been shown to be unpalatable to some species of birds thanks to this chemical defense, which could explain their warning coloration. As glucosinolates are often used by crucifers to reduce insect herbivory, their sequestration could also reduce attack rates by insect predators.
Harlequin Cabbage Bugs  Geotagged,Harlequin cabbage bug,Murgantia histrionica,Summer,United States

Defense

Harlequin bugs are phytophagous insects. Adults and nymphs feed on the stems and leaves of plants such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnip, radish, horseradish, mustard and rapeseed, and often cause blotching by their piercing-sucking feeding. These plants are economically important and are abundant in crop fields but when they are not in production, harlequin bugs are able to feed on wild plants as well.

Cruciferous plants such as cabbage produce mustard oil glycosides which give them a stinging flavor. This chemical compound is sequestered by harlequin bugs and stored in the prothorax as they feed. The adult bugs have been shown to be unpalatable to some species of birds thanks to this chemical defense, which could explain their warning coloration. As glucosinolates are often used by crucifers to reduce insect herbivory, their sequestration could also reduce attack rates by insect predators.

Migration

It is important for ''M. histrionica'' to migrate from plant to plant depending on seasonal and insect density changes. In a study conducted by Englishloeb and Collier , insects released from the original bush had different migration preferences depending on their sex. Males tended to migrate to short distances from the original plant and females mostly remained on the original plant. The results of this study were appropriate because males are more inclined to find mates and reduce competition by migrating away from a dense area while females need to oviposit. Plants with higher flowering capability were more likely to house females for a long period of time because flowers and buds are able to provide more nourishment for nymphs.

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderHemiptera
FamilyPentatomidae
GenusMurgantia
SpeciesM. histrionica