Photographer: Davefoc Affiliation: Unknown Source:https://commons.wikimedia.org Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0
Photographer: Gevork Arakelian Affiliation: LA County Department of Agriculture Source:www.bugwood.org #5493925 Copyright: CC BY-NC 3.0
Adult Description: Bagrada hilaris, is a colorful “true bug” from the family Pentatomidae that feeds on the fluids of several plant species. Overall, the insects are quite small, reaching lengths of 5-7mm with females (pictured left) being much larger than males (pictured right). It is mainly black with some white and red-orange markings. The coloration combined with marking patterns are important identifying characteristics.
Larvae Description: Larvae are wingless and go through 5 developmental stages (instars). First instar Bagrada bugs have reddish-brown heads and thoraxes and bright red abdomens (pictured at top). Later instars become darker (adding black color to their body) while accruing striking red-orange markings, and developing wing pads.
Like other hemipterans, these bugs use their needle-like proboscis to pierce and feed on plants. Damage from feeding can result in leaf-spotting, wilting, stunting, death to the crown due to central stem death and eventually death to the whole plant. Feeding can kill the plant’s apical meristem. The plant responds to this by producing numerous side shoots. In crucifers this leads to an unmarketable product since several small, underdeveloped heads are produced instead of one mature head.
This invasive bug pest poses a significant threat by its use of soil for oviposition, ability to tolerate warm climates, and wide variety of host plants. The bagrada bug not only feeds on Brassicaeae plants, but it has also been reported to feed on strawberries, melons, and members of the nightshade, mallow, legume, and grain families. If this pest were to get well established in Texas it could destroy millions of crops, costing farmers, buyers and their communities millions of dollars in crops and recovery.
Their lifecycle takes anywhere from 2.5-6 weeks. It shortens when temperatures rise. The adults overwinter and mating begins when temperatures exceed 75oF. Adults can survive about 1 month in nature, but greenhouse studies have shown them to survive up to 3 months. Eggs are laid on the soil near vegetable crops, making it more difficult for natural enemies to prey upon. Unlike many stink bugs, B. hilaris does not lay its eggs in large contiguous masses, but rather singly or in small groups of about 10 eggs. Females lay an average of 100-200 eggs in their lifetime. The nymphs hatch and move into the leaves to feed. Adults and nymphs can be found feeding on the same areas. Research in the U.S. has shown a single population peak between July and October in urban areas dominated by native and introduced weeds, and two population peaks (March-May and September-November) timed with the production of cole crops in agricultural areas.
Initially found in Los Angeles County, California in 2008, only six years later, it has spread as far north as Yolo County, California. From there, it spread to Arizona in 2009, Nevada in 2011 and New Mexico, Utah and Texas in 2012. In Texas, it jumped from El Paso to Big Bend National Park to Lubbock and Denton, and as of June 2015, this bug was found in Weslaco, Texas, presumably via commercial transportation. Dr. Raul Villanueva, an entomologist from the Texas A&M AgriLfe Extension, has identified the Weslaco specimens and expresses concerns about how quickly it may spread; “It was able to make its way out of El Paso, where we thought it was geographically isolated, which tells us that it could quickly make its way to the Gulf Coast states and the Eastern U.S.” Including this expansion, the bagrada bug now found in Brewster, Denton, El Paso, Hidalgo, Midland and Lubbock counties, and counting.
Native Origin: Africa
U.S. Habitat: Temperate to sub-tropical climates, and anywhere host plants are able to grow.
U.S. Present: AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX and UT
Texas: The bagrada bug now found in Brewster, Denton, El Paso, Hidalgo, Midland and Lubbock counties, and counting.
It can be confused with the Harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica), but bagrada bugs are smaller (about ¼ the size) and have smaller orange markings.
REPORT IT! If you suspect you might have a bagrada bug infestation, contact TISI immediately. If it is confirmed as Bagrada hilaris, TISI will report it to the USDA, Texas AgriLife Extension and other proper authorities. The bug can be easily controlled with insecticides, but growers need to keep an eye out for it before it’s too late!
Currently, research is being conducted to understand the biology of Bagrada hilaris, its life cycle, invasive potential, biological and chemical control prospects for managment strategies.
Bundy, C. S., Grasswitz, T. R., & Sutherland, C. (2012). First report of the invasive stink bug Bagrada hilaris (Burmeister)(Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) from New Mexico, with notes on its biology. Southwestern Entomologist, 37(3), 411-414.
LeVeen, E., & Hodges, A. C. (2015). Bagrada Bug, Painted Bug, Bagrada Hilaris (Burmeister)(Insecta: Hemiptera: Pentatomidae).
Reed, D. A., Newman, J. P., Perring, T. M., Bethke, J. A., & Kabashima, J. N. (2013). Management of the Bagrada bug in nurseries. Univ. California Coop. Ext., Agric. Nat. Resources, Ventura County.
Reed, D. A., Palumbo, J. C., Perring, T. M., & May, C. (2013). Bagrada hilaris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), an invasive stink bug attacking cole crops in the southwestern United States. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 4(3), C1-C7.
Singh, H., and V. S. Malik. 1993. Biology of painted bug (Bagrada cruciferarum). Indian Journal of Agricultural Science 63: 672–674.
Taylor, M. E., Bundy, C. S., & Mcpherson, J. E. (2015). Life History and Laboratory Rearing of Bagrada hilaris (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) with Descriptions of Immature Stages. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, sav048.