Do Harlequin Beetles Bite? Are They Poisonous?

Harlequin beetles are colorful insects that invite the eye. But is it safe to touch them or pick them up? Do harlequin beetles bite or sting? Let’s find out.

Harlequin beetles, also known as acrocinus longimanus, are known for their vibrant and striking colors and patterns on their bodies. 

These beetles are primarily found in South and Central America and are known to inhabit tropical and subtropical rainforests. 

They are not considered harmful to humans and are not known to bite. 

However, despite their benign nature, they may nip or bite when handled roughly as a natural instinctive response to danger. 

In this article, we will tell you more about harlequin beetles, their habitat, and how to keep safe from their bites.

Do Harlequin Beetles Bite
Immature Harlequin Stink Bugs

What Are Harlequin Beetles?

Harlequin beetles are a jewel beetle species native to South and Central America. 

These striking insects can reach three inches, with spectacular metallic-green bodies featuring red, yellow, orange, or black spots. 

They are attracted to sap flows from certain tree species, such as burseras and palo santos. 

Although they primarily consume the sap, they sometimes nibble on the exposed tree bark when other resources are scarce.

The harlequin beetle is a keystone species in its habitats, dispersing pollen and helping shape the local ecological environment by aiding in the decomposition of woody material. 

In addition, their beautiful coloration has made them popular among collection enthusiasts who seek out specimens for personal displays or research purposes.

Do They Bite/Sting?

They possess the potential to bite or sting, but these beetles are typically harmless to humans. 

While the harlequin beetle does possess piercing mandibles, it is generally not aggressive and poses no serious threat when encountered by people. 

However, the species may be capable of inflicting localized pain should it come into direct contact with skin.

Are They Poisonous/Venomous?

Harlequin beetles are not considered venomous or poisonous. 

They feed on plant materials and fungi, which their larvae depend on for sustenance. 

The peculiar color patterns of harlequin beetles act as warning signals to predators, hinting at potential toxins or poisons that may be found in the beetles’ bodies. 

What To Do if Bitten by a Harlequin Beetle?

It is unlikely that a person would be bitten by a harlequin beetle, as they cannot bite. 

Harlequin beetles are not known to be harmful to humans and do not have any toxic or venomous properties. 

In general, if any insect bites you, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

Wash the bite area thoroughly with mild soap and warm water for at least 10 minutes, and apply an ice pack. 

Depending on the severity of your symptoms – such as localized swelling and redness, nausea, headache, and fever, you should seek medicine.

Treatment may include antibiotics or other anti-inflammatory medications. 

What Do They Eat?

The Harlequin beetle is an extraordinary creature found in jungles, rainforests, and semi-arid grasslands and has a voracious appetite. 

This beetle consumes fruit, leaves, and petals with high water levels and carbohydrates to maintain a healthy diet. 

Cotton Harlequin Bug

To help the beetle build strong wing covers and other body parts, the harlequin beetle goes for sap produced by certain plant species and insects like ants, spiders, and cucumber beetles. 

These beetles sometimes feed on dead or rotting wood materials such as leaf litter or fallen branches from trees to provide variety in their diet. 

Floating plants are also part of its regular meals since they provide the beetle with much-needed minerals necessary for development.

Where Do Harlequin Beetles Live?

Harlequin beetles are active during the day and make their homes in rainforest canopies from northern Mexico to Brazil. 

This native beetle species relies on large trees for survival, usually seeking out those with high levels of rotting wood. 

They prefer warm, wet habitats for reproduction since they often congregate near rivers and streams in remote parts of the South American jungle. 

Harlequin beetles also have been spotted in various plantations where they seek places with an abundance of dead wood and decaying vegetation to feed on. 

The ability to change color makes these small beetles incredibly adaptive. 

Since they travel through different environments, they quickly adapt to the colors that match their surroundings. 

Are They Beneficial or Dangerous?

Harlequin beetles are beneficial insects to the environment due to their role in pollination. 

When they feed on native wildflowers, among other plants, they pick up and spread pollen from flower to flower. 

They also serve as food sources for predators that control populations of pests, which further helps to maintain balance in a given ecosystem. 

However, their larvae can damage fruit, vegetable, and foliage crop fields. 

As adults, these brightly colored beetles feed primarily on pollen and nectar from flowers, with the harlequin ladybird laying eggs in wood substrates found on the ground or beneath tree bark. 

While these exotic-looking insects are generally beneficial pollinators, their burrowing activities can lead to timber degradation and reduce revenue for commercial foresters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Harlequin beetles poisonous?

Harlequin beetles are not considered to be poisonous, and they do not transmit any type of disease. 
They are known, however, for their incredibly bright colors, which can be striking when seen.
The colors are meant to warn predators away from the beetle due to their bad taste when eaten.
Their colors range from red, blue, yellow, and orange, with splotches of black, white, and other colors along the edges.

Do Harlequin ladybirds bite humans?

Do Harlequin ladybirds bite humans?
Harlequin ladybirds do not bite humans and pose no threat to our health. 
As far as we know, this species of ladybird does not consume human blood as nourishment.
Harlequin ladybirds are actually considered beneficial because they feed on a variety of pests that can harm crops and plants.
When disturbed, the Harlequin will emit a chemical defense secreted from glands located near its head. 
This insect has known to bite other insects, such as city bugs, aphids, and vegetable pests.

What happens if a ladybird bites you?

If a ladybird bites you, it is not likely to cause pain or death. Ladybirds have very small mouths, and they cannot harm humans.
In most cases, the ladybird will not even attempt to bite you – they are typically quite harmless.
However, if there has been significant irritation or swelling at the site of the bite, then it may be a good idea to seek medical attention or contact your local doctor for further guidance.

What kills harlequin bugs?

Harlequin bugs are killed by a variety of methods, including predators such as mosquitoes, lady beetles, and lacewings, microbial pathogens such as fungi and bacteria, and even their own parasites.
Additionally, certain chemicals, such as carbamate insecticides, also kill harlequin bugs.
The greatest danger to harlequin bugs is always the environment they live in; if an area gets too dry or too cold, then it is likely to be too uncomfortable for these insects to survive.
Finally, intense heat can also cause mortality in these bugs.

Wrap Up

In summary; harlequin beetles are a species of jewel beetle known for their vibrant and striking colors and patterns on their bodies. 

They are primarily found in tropical and subtropical rainforests in South and Central America and are attracted to sap flows from certain tree species, such as burseras and palo santos. 

They are not considered harmful and do not have any toxic or venomous properties. However, they may nip or bite when handled roughly as a natural instinctive response to danger. 

They are considered a keystone species in their habitats, helping to shape the local ecological environment by aiding in the decomposition of woody material.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

Leave a Comment