What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Funny bugs
I live in Melbourne, Australia. We were tidying up our backyard and came across a bunch of these bugs, there are about 20 of them living together and all of them seem to be joined at the bottom! From what I can tell after looking through your site, they are Hemipterans. As they crawl, they remain attached and one is always walking backwards! Are they in a constant state of mating?? Will they stay this way all the time? I have been watching them for 5 days now and they have remained in this position. They have beautiful colours under their bellies and seem to have a great sense of knowing when I am near them as they run the other way (always joined at the bum!)

Hi Ally,
We can narrow the identification to Seed Bugs, either in the family Lygaeidae or Largidae, but sadly, the GeoCities site has failed to provide us with an exact identification of your very distinctive Seed Bugs. We also don’t know how long they will stay attached. Perhaps one of our readers will have better internet luck than we are having.

Correction: (11/11/2007)
Thanks for the reply Daniel. I managed to look around myself and finally found a local bug person who told me these little guys are called Harlequin Bugs! He told me to do a google search for ” Dindymus versicolor ” which I suppose its it’s proper name…Seems these guys are pests: “Dindymus versicolor (Herrich-Schaeffer) is a minor pest of soft fruit orchards, Market gardens and home gardens in southeastern Australia and Tasmania (French 1891; French 1933; McKeown 1942; Evans 1943), but the nymphs have not been Described even though they contribute directly to the pest status of this species. Further, Dindymus versicolor, as the major representative of the family Pyrrhocoridae In southeastern Australia (Tillyard 1926), has been neglected compared to the family’s Northern Australian representative, Dysdercus sidae Montrouzier, once considered To pose a serious threat to the cotton industry (Froggatt 1923; Gurney 1924; Ballard And Evans 1928).” BUT, I am still searching on information WHY these guys are “stuck” together!!! It’s really, err, bugging me!! LOL Thanks again!

Hi Ally,
Thanks for the correction. We had also considered the family Pyrrhocoridae, known as Red Bugs or Cotton Stainers, as a possibility. Sorry we didn’t include it in our original guess.

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10 Responses to Mating Harlequin Bugs from Australia

  1. Leo says:

    This article may be relevant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovebug
    I also live in Melbourne and I see these bugs ALL the time!

  2. Faeleen says:

    I see this bugs in San Diego, ca

  3. Antonia says:

    I have these bugs in my garden, they destroyed my tomato plants and now are attacking my mandarin tree. Does anyone if there is a pest control that I can buy to stop these pests from destroying my fruit trees. I live in Melbourne

  4. Kath Ward says:

    They are harlequin bugs and are a destructive pest. They are sap suckers and any plant or fruit they have fed from will either die or fruit will be covered in hard scars that make it inedible. Females lay around 30 eggs and the young look like little red dots that only change to full colour in their final moult. It takes no time before there are thousands of them in your garden. I have been fighting them for many years and found they really cannot be eradicated, just controlled. I make a mixture in a one litre sprayer of 1\2 cup cheap vinegar, fill sprayer with warm water and a good squirt of cheap dish detergent. This is a contact spray so make sure they are wet with this solution. Some of them will run around for a while but it does kill them. It is harmless to both plants and pets and is also good for other garden pests, particularly white fly.

    • Carolyn says:

      Have just found these little pests on my newly planted healthy bouganvilleau . Thank you for your insight. To save my garden I will remove it from its pot and hope the bugs don’t transfer to my disease free garden.

    • Sharla Dale says:

      Thank you for your information. I have a plague like infestation and they are attacking my lavender and succulents.
      Is your solution harmful to bees?

  5. Leah says:

    I had these the first year I moved into my current house 4 years ago (in Melbourne). I mistook the babies for baby ladybirds, so didn’t kill them – bad move. They ended up in plague proportions. They are sap suckers and will kill your garden. I did lots of research at the time regarding management, and couldn’t find much. From memory, they like to lay their eggs in a particular weed, so I made sure that the garden was really well weeded to break the cycle. Also, I could find no natural predators (birds aren’t interested in them). I set about manually squashing them at every opportunity (they are very skittish and run like a race horse when they see you & hide, which is really frustrating). I did read of a lady who had captured a lot of them, then made a tea out of the dead bodies and sprayed that on them, with good effect. I never got that far as they died out at the start of winter. Since then I have had the occasional one, which I squash, but I think making sure their egg laying weeds are removed is the best way to control them. My preferred method for weed and bad insect management is boiling water. If I ever see another cluster of babies, I will tip boiling water in them – doubt they will survive that.

    • Sue says:

      Lol run like a racehorse, that they do. We have quite a few this year also. We have a hibiscus and I keep it trimmed so I can go out there daily and catch the little buggers. I have a small container which I put some water in and put under them on the plant. Then when they try to get away from me, they drop in the container or I tap the plant and shake them into it. I the. Squash what I have found but I will try adding some dishwasher liquid for added annihilation of the little beasts.

  6. Sam says:

    @Kath ward – I tried your mix (which for the addition of the vinegar was the only main variation I had found from another recipe or two I’ve already tried – which didn’t work.. (a strong detergent / water mix only) – this one with the vinegar added works a charm – has really knocked them for 6 – so will keep at it to keep them at bay.. thanks for posting this!

  7. Anthony Hall says:

    I have thousands of them and they have ruined my tomatoes for 2 years running. Spraying with soapy water does seem to work on the ones that you spray, many more escape. Can anybody tell me the name of the weed?

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