What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

red bugs taking over my yard
December 8, 2009
I have red and black bugs that seem to mulitply by the day. I tried poison but it did not work. Maybe it was the wrong poison but don’t know what to get because I don’t know what the bug is. Please help, they reproduce faster than rabbits!
Afton
Orlando Florida

Red Shoulder Bug Aggregation

Red Shoulder Bug Aggregation

Hi Afton,
You have an aggregation of immature Red Shoulder Bugs, Jadera haematoloma, and according to BugGuide, they can emerge in alarmingly large swarms.  Adults have black wings that cover the red abdomens that are visible in the nymphs.   They are also called Goldenrain Tree Bugs because they feed on the seeds of the goldenrain tree.  Another common host plant in Florida is the balloonvine.  BugGuide also indicates that the peak population period in Florida is May.  BugGuide indicates:  “Widespread southern species, in same family as the Boxelder Bug. Often associated with the introduced Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata; family Sapindaceae) but is apparently a native insect.  …. The bug is probably more widespread than formerly, following the distribution of the cultivated tree.”  Red Shoulder Bugs may become a nuisance because of their numbers, but they are benign insects.

Red Shoulder Bugs

Red Shoulder Bugs

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

117 Responses to Red Shoulder Bugs: Aggregation of alarming proportions

  1. GKBOWOOD says:

    AHAA! I have these appear each year on my prickly pear cactus here in central Texas. I usually hose them off with water. I’m glad they are not harmful to me, but I wonder about the cactus.

  2. tmcc says:

    I just got these bugs two weeks ago and they showed up in the thousands from the neighbors yard. After 4 different insecticides we found dish detergent does work the best, but not after it dries. We put a bar of reg soap in the hose sprayer along with the dish detergent and this actually seemed to work better. I leave the bar in there and just add more dish soap when needed and they really aren’t but a few crawling around now and none on my house.

  3. cdc53 says:

    best instant kill is Palmolive dish detergent in a pump sprayer or hose end sprayer

    • bugman says:

      Though they are not harmful, we are sure some of our readers find Red Shoulder Bugs to be a nuisance when they get plentiful. Though we do not endorse extermination of benign species, we will post your comment.

  4. robbin says:

    They must be migrating North, I live in Kansas and have them this year for the first time. As long as they are not hurting anything I will leave them for my toad that lives under my porch.

    • Debra says:

      I live in Iowa and just noticed them today in massive amounts all over my yard and drive way…….Very strange and kind of disturbing…

    • Pam says:

      just uncovered a hoard of them in my front landscape in Kansas. Never seen before in my life. so weird. doesn’t look like there’s any reason to kill them. Let the ecosystem work itself out. 😉

      • Robin says:

        You best not do that they’ll just multiply thousand times over

        • Jeri Johns says:

          I live in New York…this is the first year I’ve seen these little critters. Thought they came in the bags of mulch we used this year. Dawn in a mix of Epsom salt seems to kill them but I’m waiting to see what it does to my plants. May have NO regrowth of my beautiful flowers next spring.😢

          • Alex Rose says:

            I’m from NY tooand this is also the first time I’ve ever seen them. Did you happen to cut any trees down?

          • Sally says:

            Me too. From NY just outside Buffalo. This is the 1st time I’ve seen this bug.d

          • diane says:

            I also live in NY on LI I noticed them this year and they seem to like my hydrangea best. I sprayed them with Palmolive and vinegar but they came back. I will try just the dish soap spray and see what happens

          • Ti Ti says:

            Just wondering….do you by chance remember the type of mulch you
            used? I was
            Thinking the same possibility.

      • Laura says:

        Michigan here! Just noticed them for the first time ever and are they plentiful! All over front yard and flower beds. Will try soap trick too!

        • Brian Morrow says:

          I am in Michigan as well and noticed them for the first time this year. I checked an insect identification book I own without success, but a quick Google search allowed me to identify them quickly. Climate change perhaps? I had a large aggregation at the back of my garage. I used roach/ant killer on the ones that were apparent. That worked extremely quickly on the individuals that I sprayed.

          • Julie says:

            Hi.
            I am From Ottawa and it was the first time I have seen this insect. Absolutely migrating north.

          • Lauralee says:

            Thanks for the information, everybody. In Michigan for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve seen them. Oddly, they’re collecting in piles on my front porch steps. I found a bunch clinging to my nearby hostas as well. Don’t want to hurt the plants but I get the heebie jeebies every time I step outside!!! I’ll try the dish soap.

        • Jan B says:

          I’m in Michigan too and they are all over the sidewalk and crawling on the building at work. They didn’t appear until after we planted two raised vegetable gardens.

      • Noemi says:

        they will look for refuge during the winter, so if you let them they will find a place inside your house, and that can be is disturbing.

    • Rachel says:

      I live in BC Canada and i see them in my backyard

  5. David says:

    I live in Ohio and they are here too! They particularly are on both of my PVC downspouts… I do not know why? But I have to downspouts on the back of my house and both are PVC to take rain water further away from the house. Where the opening is on the PVC pipe, they hang out there…and seem to have multiplied quite fast like everyone is saying here… gonna try the soap trick! thank you!

  6. Diane says:

    I live in Indiana. This is the first year I’ve noticed them in droves. Annoying and plentiful. I’m trying the soap.

    • dawn says:

      I have found tons in my garden a common bug rid cure that is pet and people friendly is dish soap and hot sauce mixed with water this is safe to use on gardens and kills other pest too

    • Becki Evans says:

      I live in Indiana as well, found a couple of areas in my flowers where there are maybe 20 all together. Not too bad yet!!!

  7. Jeanine says:

    Have found one in Prescott AZ

  8. Gloria Holmstead says:

    They have made their way to Utah. I have them by the hundreds in my garden, on my porch, ugh.

  9. Donna says:

    I live in the foothills/farmland area of California and I (for the first time in 16 years) have them in my yard. At least I think they are the Red Shoulder Bugs. They seem to be living in old gopher holes, and come out once the sun comes up. There are thousands of them, reminds me of large red ants, but bigger. I am going to try the soap spray, it is a lot cheaper then the commercial insect sprays
    I found this site to be very helpful, thanks

  10. Mari says:

    I just found some of these in my yard. Since it’s the first year the rain tree has bloomed & seeded, I will leave them alone. Hopefully they won’t become a nuisance. Thank you for the helpful information.

  11. Frances says:

    Please don’t spray harmless insects. If you leave them alone they wll reach a balance. There are other creatures that will feed on them, and keep the numbers down.
    If you stop spraying altogether andi live with a few bugs you will notice how much healthier your yard will become. Let’s live and enjoy the wild creatures we share this wonderful planet Earth with, after all it’s their home too.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for your earnest plea. Sadly, a large number of submissions to our site are alarmed folks who feel the need to lead bugless lives.

    • Judy Winters says:

      NOTHING feeds on these things. They cover everything at my house in Port Richey, Florida. Brick planter walls, wooden fence, stone yard, etc. They love the heat from the sun. Started with one Rain Tree in neighbors yard and unfortunately these trees multiple easily.

      • Crissi says:

        I also live in port richey fl and I found a ton of them all over my yard, I was ok until I put my 4 year old in the car seat and she screams mom there’s one of those bugs crawling next to her on her car seat! I have no clue how it got into my car….. ahhhhhh yuck

        • Amy Spencer says:

          They are benign. They wont hurt you or your child. Nature isnt scary, your prejudice is.

          • Robin says:

            Amy obviously you don’t have them bad. If you don’t do anything to control them, they will become an infestation. When we bought our house, it had been vacant several years with a HUGE Raintree next to house. They were so bad that it looked like the ground was moving. So yes you can, not do anything otherwise your property will be overrun by these things

          • Therese says:

            Why would you ever even make a comment like that?

          • Terri says:

            That’s a nasty thing to say.

    • carolyn says:

      What are the other creatures that feed on them? I figure its better to have the bugs than to have to pull up thousands of young golden rain trees alll over my back yatd which is shingle stones

  12. Ethel Grimes says:

    I’ve been seeing a lot of these around my Bakersfield, California home. Thank God they’re harmless! Maybe the birds will eat them.

  13. Wendy says:

    I live in NE Kansas and have seen a large amount of these bugs around the front of my house. They seem to be living on and around fallen leaves and seed pods. I was concerned they would be harmful, but as they don’t seem to be trying to get inside my house I will just leave them be. Maybe the birds will feast on them.

  14. shannon says:

    I live in Mi and ive got those red bugs all over my siding on both sides of my back patio, they are such a pain I cant even open my slider to let in fresh air because there all over the place…. AAGGG im gonna try the soap idea and see if that helps…..

  15. Bernadette says:

    I live in New York. Just last week the City did some tree sprucing on my block. Yesterday my husband went to move our car that was parked under a tree. Thats when he noticed a swarm of red begs all over the car. That same day it rained real hard and there was no trace of them. The next morning I took a look to see if there were any trace of them and thats when I noticed some coming from under the hood. Im praying the car is not infested. So nervous.

  16. April says:

    If they are harmless,I will leave them alone. Do they eat tomato plants or green bean plants?

  17. Dianne says:

    I have small bunches of them in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sure glad to read that they are benign. Something along with the deer are chewing leaves off many of my veggie garden plants.

  18. Nancy says:

    I usually get them every year but this year they seemed to have been really multiplying. I have thousands of them in my front yard. You can see a carpet of red under my grass and you can’t walk in my yard, driveway or walk way without stepping on them. In the evening they seem to like to come and hang out on the outdoor walls, which is really weird and becoming a nuisance. I don’t want to kill them, but I’m wondering if I spray the Stucco on the outside of my house with water and dish liquid will it keep them away from the walls at least? Any suggestions? Thanks.

  19. CC says:

    Hi, we have them here in Canada, British Columbia too. Just wondering has anyone been able to actually find anywhere, any research or such that has been done to prove these little bugs don’t do any or cause any harm in anyway?? Just wondering?? If they don’t,… does anyone know what their actual purpose is?? Thank you! 🙂

  20. Eddy says:

    Thousand of them swarming on trees in my yard in New Hampshire. They form red clumps on the bark and in the leaves

  21. Pam Westerman says:

    I have lived in florida for 3 years and this is the first time i have seen these little red bugs. There are adults and tiny babies. They are outside on my concrete pavers. Hundreds. will try the Palmolive trick.

    • Michelle says:

      Use soap water on them. It softens the shell of their bodies. It’s the only thing I found that works.
      I’ve had them for the last 3 years., but so far this spring I haven’t seen them yet. Thank god.
      They like the sap of a tree . I can’t remember the name of the tree though.

  22. Red Shoulder Bug Killer says:

    The Palmolive trick did not work for me. I removed the “Rain Tree” (which attracts them) and then had my pest control technician cover the area with “Intice Granular Bait” (available via eBay) and it worked very effectively. Try it. I think you’ll be impressed with the results. I derive no benefit from recommending “Intice Granular Bait” other than the joy of helping a fellow human being.

  23. Wanda Ferrufino says:

    I found lots of them on my Yoshino Cherry Tree today. I have never seen them before.
    Bedford, VA
    June 1, 2016

  24. Kelley says:

    I live in WV and this is the first year I have seen them. They are migrating on my picnic table for some reason. Will try the Palmolive. I sprayed with Ortho Home Defense and they just run. Very annoying.

  25. John Buscarino says:

    these things are NOT benign, at least not here in ABQ, New Mexico. They are killing many of my garden plants, I have found them swarming on everything from sunflowers to carrots and perennial plants like grapes and oak seedlings. They literally suck them dry. I can provide photo documentation of all this. I think we have a lot more to learn about new insect dynamics as the climate changes and we introduce new species all over the place.

  26. bug lady says:

    Hi: I live in New Jersey in Hamilton Township and just uncovered an alarming amount of what I discovered to be Red Shoulder Bugs. Was cuting large weeds away from my fence and they all popped out — hundreds of them. I will try the dishsoap.

  27. Mary says:

    I have them all over the place in Roanoke,Va.I’ll kill them because they are very annoying and there isn’t anything eating the ugly things.

  28. KItty says:

    I have them by the thousands here in Pa., I have had them before but not in this quantity. Since Dawn kills the stink bug, I am going to try that. When I walk outside they run up my legs and get very annoying.

  29. K S says:

    Saw these bugs for the first time yesterday in the backyard (southeastern PA), today in the front yard. If they are benign, I’ll leave them alone but if they’re all over the place, I’ll be pulling out the dish soap!

  30. gayle firth says:

    we live in New Jersey and we are over populated with them

  31. Jad says:

    I’m in western New York and we have 100s of thousands of these all over our lawn. We are trying to reduce these numbers only because we are so infested that no one wants to be in the back yard. We’re trying the dish soap now.

  32. Troy says:

    I’m in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and my backyard has exploded with them over the last few days..with reading the comments through the years on this site it appears the species is heading north.. gross.

  33. Aurora Mitchell says:

    I’m in Woodstock, Ontario.. WOW..!! I have so many of them.. they might not be harmless but I don’t wanna seat in my backyard and have them crawling all over me..

  34. Penny says:

    They have reached Ontario Canada
    Gross

  35. Frances says:

    Yes, they have been hatching in swarms in the last week from under our gazebo in Welland, Ontario , Canada. They are creepy but we are happy to hear they are benign. Thankfully they seem to have dissipated in the last few days. Yuck!

  36. We have a few acres out in Wainfleet, Ontario and have these things by the thousands. They seem to be hanging around our fire pit and the maple tree that over shadows it and no where else. (knock on wood…) Some days I will see clusters as large as dinner plates and other days just a few hundred scattered around wandering. This is the first year I have seen them but it may have been from the hotter than normal summer. We are supposed to have a very cold winter and maybe this will drastically reduce their numbers for next year.

  37. James Clacy says:

    Hi. These bugs are also in Australia Brisbane Area. and must be associated with the Golden rain tree. the neigbour has had one removed but there are still millions breeding faster than rabbits. The picture above shows how bad they are . It is like this but worse on my side fence. I would like to thin them out a bit maybe I could spray the fence with something?

    • bugman says:

      WE were not aware that the Red Shouldered Bug has been introduced to Australia. We do not provide extermination advice.

      • Carolyn Allen says:

        We have huge numbers of the red shouldered bug here in s. QLD. Australia and my neighbour has an annoying golden rain tree which sheds its leaves and seeds. I have palms and shingle in my back yard. Fed up with bother the bugs and the seedlings. I pulled up over 2000 baby trees from my stones last year

  38. Ellie says:

    I wish I had a way to upload my pics. I’m not sure if this is what I have or not but they sure look similar. They are in clusters all over my barn walls. I’ve been here for 8 years and have never seen these before. They seem to be multiplying very quickly. We had a freeze last night and there seems to be even more of them on the walls today.

  39. Annee Dury says:

    I firmly disagree. I have an infestation of the jadera, red shouldered, golden rain tree, soapberry bugs and they are destroying my newly planted (1 year now) xeriscape garden. I don’t believe entomologists (nor botanists for that matter) know enough about the bugs. They may not bite humans and yes, they do eat the berries (and everything else) which keeps little golden rain trees from blooming, but they seem to have a symbiotic relationship with other garden pests where they work together to sustain their survival and destroy any beautiful flora that is in their way. I lift up any pile of leaves all throughout my garden and they are there overrunning my garden. Plants, like red yucca, and blue chalk stick that are almost impossible to kill are falling prey to these pests. More research needs be to be done before they are called harmless. They are anything but.

  40. Annee Dury says:

    PS. I am in Southern California.

  41. Molly says:

    I have had these for years now, and I now see that their growing numbers coincide with the growing number of volunteer raintrees by my house! They have never hurt anything. I don’t use any toxins or soaps on my lawn or trees and my yard is healthy even when neighboring treated lawns look puny. I was just curious why I had box elder beetles when I haven’t any box elders etc. Now I know I actually have red shouldered beetles. Thanks for the informative site.

  42. Brittni says:

    They eat seeds from plants, the best way to avoid them is by raking up all the seeds just after they fall.

  43. Maureen says:

    These red shouldered bugs reached my garden in Collingwood, Ontario this past summer, and yes they multiplied by the thousands seemingly overnight. Water sprays only disperse them for a few hours. Unfortunately, now we are having a rather mild winter and they are invading the house…everywhere! Only a few each day, but nowhere is sacred. I find them in the bathroom, the coffee maker, and last night even one in my bed…not pleasant! I will try soap sprays in the garden as soon as they appear again outside, but any suggestions of ridding them from the house?

  44. Haley says:

    These bugs I have them in my property in australia, they are all through my horse hay and all over my plants, my only question is, is my horse safe to still eat his hay with them on there?

  45. carolyn says:

    I am in australia too and am dreading the autumn when my neighbours tree will shed its leaves. There will be seeds all over the shingle in my rainforest back yard followed by millions of bugs.

  46. Katherine A Clark says:

    I live in New Port Richey fl and have these bugs in my lawn and mulch. I have used rid a bug and it doesn’t seem to work. I just found one in my house. Disgusting. I will use them dish soap and see if that helps. There are millions of them. I have never seen these bugs in my life.

  47. John says:

    why exterminate when they are doing use a service ?

    • Annee says:

      Obviously, John, you do not have to deal with these red-shouldered bugs. They are invasive and are eating of my plants (especially my succulents). They are now all over my driveway and like to hang out under my doormat. They have infested my neighbors’ yards. I can not turn over a leaf without finding hundreds of them. I dread the day they make it inside my home as Maureen stated has happened. These bugs need to be studied. Not enough is known about them. They are anything but harmless.

  48. Regina says:

    Just discovered these in NE Atlanta, GA. Started as a small adult colony on the side of my house one evening. Didn’t think anything of it except how creepy it was, but now, a couple of weeks later, they (and all their red babies) are in my lawn and pine straw, at the base of my trees, in my herbs, Lily’s, ferns and are trying to take over my berry patch!! I’ve been in this house over 15 years & never have seen them before. We had a mild winter and have been fairly dry, until the April rains came in, so that may have had something to do with the recent infestation?…

  49. Regina says:

    Correction: pretty certain I have box elder bugs verses red shoulder bugs from their markings (they are very similar in appearance and we have quite a few Japanese Maples in the neighborhood which they tend to like).

  50. Beverly says:

    I have them all over the place…..never noticed them before….I live in Clermont fl…they have started finding their way into my screen area. Then a few inside my house. I have to try some bug spray….outside they are fine but when they start getting in—it’s time to take steps to stop them…..so before you judge me…..let me put some inside your home….

  51. Kathy says:

    Just to let you know it is now June and we have had a lot if rain in New Port Richey the past few weeks and the bugs seemed to have vanished. I also racked the yard very well and sprayed soapy water all over. They seemed to have vanished. I had put red mulch down and wonder if they were in the mulch? Anyway they are gone. I hope they don’t come back again.

  52. Beverly says:

    I think this problem came from mulch I had put down end of last year….never saw them before….

  53. Jacqui says:

    Box elder/Red shoulder, whichever they are…they have arrived in Northern Virgina in abundance too; as well as those “nasty” Chiggers!
    Unfortunately, neither of these pests are any longer foreign to us. Chiggers are taking an ugly toll on family & pets 🤕

  54. Heidi says:

    I was amazed when I saw these all over one hosta (out of several) and had never seen these before, at least not in such numbers. I’m in NW Indiana and I was worried it was some type of stink bug nymph (d@mn those BMSBs!). Weird. After reading comments, strange that so many people are reporting their first sightings all at once. Always see quite a few box elder bugs but never these.

  55. Jennifer McGuire says:

    Welcome to Canada! Just found them on our fence. Not a huge amount but they have maybe just arrived! Thanks for the advise on how to get rid of them. Dish soap it is.

  56. carolyn says:

    Welcome to Australia, Queensland where it is winter and my back garden (shingle and palms) is Now covered in leaves and seeds from the Golden Rain Tree from hell. Waiting to see if the Spring unleashes saplings and bugs!

  57. Charie Markham says:

    I am in Davis County, Utah and I am finding hundreds of these bugs in the dirt next to my Blackberry bushes on a fence line. I have gardened for years and never seen these. I will try the soap sprays…Any other suggestion are welcome.

  58. lashone Wilson says:

    Live in burnham 20 mins away from Chicago them things are all over my garage front and back i used bug stop spray supposed to kill on contact but it takes a min

  59. Catherine says:

    In Orange County NY and these guys swarm all sides of our house. Windows are covered with these guys. It’s like something out of a movie. We we go outside from any door they swarm around us. They get into the house. This summer we doubled the size of our deck. Maybe it’s the new wood. Also many neighbors have farms and this area is surrounded by trees. So could be that too. We have been using dish soap every other day. Seems these guys are sophisticated enough to fly away while we spray and come back a few monitors after we are done spraying. If it wasn’t for the fact they swarmed our actual home we’d leave them be. Having these buggers attach to our clothes and hair is more than a nuisance.

  60. carolyn says:

    I have heard their droppings aggravate asthma and lung problems if you have a great number of them round the house.

  61. Leontine Lange says:

    I live in South Africa and we have tons of them in our garden. Multiplying very fast. Also tried lots of things but so far unsuccesful.

  62. carolyn says:

    What else do they eat? Has any work been done on these critters? Could they eat fireweed?

  63. Carol says:

    Will these bugs hurt my vegetable garden?

  64. FLyardguy says:

    These bugs are now the are unnatural they don’t belong in Florida I don’t know who introduced them. I want my seeds in my yard don’t eat my seeds devil bug. They are all over Florida I work on a lot of properties in Florida born and raised this is new and total crap. We need them all gone. Don’t tolerate these alien pets.

  65. Laryssa says:

    I tried everything nothing worked and after few years I finally found it, a friend told me to buy Demand CS and it works!! You won’t find it at regular stores only online, they are all gone now, I can finally enjoy my backyard now

  66. Rob says:

    I live in Indiana and I have them in my mulch. I am thinking they travelled here from the south.

  67. Pamela says:

    I’m in SE Iowa and have them in the wood mulched area under a maple tree. Also living in the rock mulch in the adjoining area. There are hundreds! First time to ever see them. Would like to know if they can damage the hostas around that tree.

  68. Kathy Clark says:

    I live in New Port Richey Fl. I had them last year in my mulch. I have not seen any so far this year but my neighbor had all his trees trimmed and I have racked up all leaves. I used the soap last year and then this past winter had a freeze. So far so good. They are disgusting. I have also sprayed bug killer all over and this might have helped. I hope they don’t come back.

  69. Well just this past week I have noticed them in my tard here in Michigan. I was spraying for weeds and they just came running like crazy. Hundreds of them. All in my flower beds mulch and rock. They are everywhere!

  70. Rhonda Landers says:

    Found them in my yard today in Ft worth Texas. I’ve been gardening over 40 years and never seen them before. I panicked. Thought they were baby ticks or something. Totally freaked me out because of my little dog.Thank God they won’t hurt him. I’m sorry but I don’t want more of them. If I don’t see the birds chowing down on them they’re getting sprayed. They are in my Evening Primrose.

  71. Barbara says:

    Birds will not eat them. I have a bumper crop of them this year!

  72. Jocelyn Perizzle says:

    We have these in California and I think we have a golden rain tree out front along with some palm trees. Both drop seeds and they don’t seem to be picky about which seed is which. They come out of no where one day there’s nothing there and the next there’s thousands. They supposedly have wing but you never see them fly, great climbers. Prior to this year I have killed them off with some really strong lavender hair freshener. They were over populating and getting into the house. The cat was afraid of them too. They like to hang out in big clumps of five plus. This year I didn’t have the spray so I’ve been squishing them. I’m not one to do this but they are ugly and over populated and watching them walk around butt to butt mating is incredibly irratating. Luckily the spiders also make a good meal out of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *