Harlequin Bug: 17 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Harlequin bug facts you should watch out for before planting crops.

Are you thinking about planting cabbage? Did you know some pests can destroy the entire cabbage plantation?

The Harlequin bugs are one of the destructive pests found in the southern parts of the United States. The Harlequin bugs are popularly known as shield bugs or calico bugs. This bug can destroy the whole plantation field if they are not controlled. They cause injury to the plants by sucking the juicy secretion of the plants. The attacked plant species usually die or wither.

Although many bugs in the garden balance the ecosystem, this attractive black, and orange Harlequin bug is not suitable for the garden. They are dangerous to the plants, making it essential to control them. Make it a point to water your crops to wash away the various insect pests. Also, grow trap crops between the main crops to control these beetles. Then, manage the trap crops intensively.

Read on for further information about these pest bugs. Other bugs facts you should about know are the ambush bug and green stink bug.

Harlequin Bug

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Cabbage, kale, squash, okra, tomatoes, corn, beans, leaves, stem, fruit, and collards

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

149 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

0.5-1.5 in (1.9-3.8 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black with orange

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

English sparrows, mockingbirds, turtles

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Tropical regions


North America





Scientific Name

Murgantia histrionica





Harlequin Bug Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Harlequin Bug?

The black Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica, is a significant cabbage pest and related crops belonging to the Brassicaceae family and the ornamental flowers like cleome. They are distributed throughout the tropical regions of North America. In the tropics, the bugs are known to live for three to six years. Thus, you can often find them sucking the life of your flora.

What class of animal does a Harlequin Bug belong to?

The Harlequin bugs belong to the class Insecta and under the family Pentatomidae.

How many Harlequin Bugs are there in the world?

The exact number of Harlequin bugs is unknown since there are 4700 species under the family Pentatomidae.

Where does a Harlequin Bug live?

The harlequin cabbage bug lives in the woods, garden, and plantation farms. The Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica, is native to Central America and Mexico and has spread over North America. It was first discovered in 1864 in Texas. It first spread from Mexico to the southern United States after the Civil War. It is now found throughout the United States. Its habitat ranges from agricultural fields to home gardens.

What is a Harlequin Bug's habitat?

The Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica are found in the tropical regions. The host plants comprise crops like kale, cabbage, mustard, broccoli, and turnip. The Murgantia histrionica damage the stems and leaves of these crops. They also attack beans, squash, corn, okra, asparagus, and tomatoes.

The Murgantia histrionica are now found throughout the United States. They are found extensively in the crop plants and have spread to parts of Canada. These Harlequin beetles can ruin the market value of the crops by causing white and yellow blemishes or spots on the foliage.

The harlequin ladybug natural environment should comprise a warm place. During the winter, the adult Harlequin bugs live in the crop residues and field edges. However, adult Harlequin bugs are dormant during the winter season. However, the nymphs and adults are active in the summer. They usually become active when the temperature rises or when it gets warm.

Who do Harlequin Bugs live with?

The Harlequin bugs live alone or in packs.

How long does a Harlequin Bug live?

The Harlequin bug is expected to live for two to three generations in the southern United States.

How do they reproduce?

The Harlequin bugs reproduce oviparously. During mating, the sperms produced by the males are transmitted to females with the help of external genitalia. The sperms are stored inside the females in a unique reproductive tract in one or more spermathecae. It is interesting to know that a female can reproduce rapidly and mate numerous times with many males.

Mating usually takes place during the spring season. The Murgantia histrionica causes heavy destruction during the spring. The adults come out and lay eggs on the trunk of the trees of their host plant. The females lay up to 149 eggs. The eggs are laid in rows, usually in double rows, 12 in each row. The Harlequin bug eggs are white and black striped. The eggs may take up to 20 days to hatch; the Harlequin cabbage bug egg hatch during the warmer days.

The Development time from eggs to adults takes around 30-50 days. The Murgantia histrionica has four development stages. The harlequin bug life cycle consists of the following stages: Harlequin bug eggs, Harlequin bug larvae, Harlequin bug nymph, and Adult Harlequin bugs.

A nymph molts five times before becoming an adult. Therefore, the life cycle of the Murgantia histrionica is annual. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the Murgantia histrionica bug's life cycle if you plan for Harlequin bug control.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Murgantia histrionica is not mentioned.

Harlequin Bug Fun Facts

What do Harlequin Bugs look like?

The Murgantia histrionica is a shield-shaped little pest. It has a black body with blurry orange and yellow markings on its wing covers. The size of the Harlequin bugs (Murgantia histrionica) is 0.75-1.5 in (1.9-3.8 cm). The nymphs look identical to that of the adults, but the nymphs are smaller and rounded in shape.

The eggs are barrel-shaped with black and white stripes. The eggs are usually laid on the stem and the backside of the leaves. You can find them in the host plant like cabbage, mustard, broccoli, kale, fruits, and other crucifers. These pests greedily feed on the crop of these plants.

Have you ever heard about the destructive Harlequin bug?

How cute are they?

The Murgantia histrionica is a cute little attractive adult and nymph garden pests. The adult pest is usually black with orange and yellow spots on the back. However, the Murgantia histrionica causes heavy plant destruction and releases a foul odor like the stink bug.

How do they communicate?

The way of communication by the Murgantia histrionica is unique. They are known to communicate through the vibrating signals of the plant substrate. The males usually initiate plant-substrate communication.

Males are known to produce five vibrational signals, whereas females are known to produce only one song. Transmission of the vibrating signals in cabbage is through veins. The fading of signals through the veins is low.

How big is a Harlequin Bug?

The Murgantia histrionica is 0.75-1.5 in (1.9-3.8 cm) in body length. The Murgantia histrionica is two times bigger than the Cotton Harlequin bug or Hibiscus Harlequin bug.

How fast can Harlequin Bugs move?

The Harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica) can move fast. But their exact speed is not known. So if you want to go for harlequin bug control, use a trap crop. Make sure you won't scare them as they quickly move to the backside of the leaves.

How much does a Harlequin Bug weigh?

The exact weight of the Murgantia histrionica is not mentioned.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Females are known as female Harlequin bug, and males are known as male Harlequin bug.

What would you call a baby Harlequin Bug?

Baby Harlequin bugs are called nymphs.

What do they eat?

The Murgantia histrionica are popularly known as phytophagous insects. Both adults and nymphs feed on the leaves and stem of cabbage, collards, kale, broccoli, radish, horse-radish, rapeseed, mustard, and other crucifers. These plants play an essential role in abundance in the crop fields. When these crops are not in production, the adult Harlequin insect feeds on wild plants.

Are they harmful?

Yes, they are harmful. The adults and nymphs of the Harlequin bug is a vital insect of the cabbage, broccoli and many other crucifers. This insect usually attacks by sucking the sap of the leaves of the host plants. Harlequin bug damage to the crop plants is exceptionally severe; they can cause them to wilt and die.

To avoid the plants wilting, opt for Harlequin bug organic control or Harlequin bug treatment to treat and trap pests. Adopt a strategy to control and trap pests.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the Murgantia histrionica would not make a good pet. Harlequin bug damage to the crop plants is dangerous as they feed on the leaves of the garden plants. They are not suitable for the garden.

Did you know...

Like other insects, the Murgantia histrionica has an open circulatory system. With the help of the posterior ventral body cavity and dorsal blood vessels, the blood is pumped to the head.

A male Murgantia histrionica pest can identify a mated and unmated female by the size of the saccular glands.

Generations of Murgantia histrionica require 50-80 days to develop.

Do Harlequin Bugs bite?

Yes, the Murgantia histrionica bites humans when they are hungry. So, it would help if you were careful of them; they leave behind an itchy lump-like spot. If allergic reactions do not occur, it does not cause any effect. The adults and nymphs tend to bite more during the winter season. Surviving the winter season becomes difficult for these shield-shaped pests when food is scarce.

How to get rid of Harlequin Bugs

You can get rid of the Harlequin bugs by using insecticides. Since they infest every two or three days, spray the plants from top to bottom. The sprays that kill the Harlequin bugs are Pyrethrum spray, Rotenone spray, and dust-killing spray.

Organic control of Harlequin cabbage bug includes spraying the plants with water daily and picking the pests with your hands. Also, remove and destroy all the eggs laid on the plants, if you see any. Finally, after every harvest, make it a point to remove the weeds and debris.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods, from our wheel bug interesting facts and stick bug fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable harlequin bug coloring pages.



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