Painted Bugs from Africa mating in Mount Washington: Bagrada hilaris

July 26, 2009
We noticed some tiny Stink Bugs on our kale and collard greens yesterday, so today we took out the camera and shot some photos.  According to BugGuide, this is a new Invasive Exotic species from Africa, Bagrada hilaris.  It is a very small Stink Bug, about a quarter of the size of the similarly marked Harlequin Stink Bug we also photographed today.  We should try to get one more photo as a size comparison.

Mating Invasive Exotic Stink Bugs in our own garden
Mating Invasive Exotic Stink Bugs in our own garden

We went back out with the camera, placed two specimens in the freezer to slow them down, and took the following size comparison photo between Bagrada and Murgantia and then posted the images to BugGuide.

Bagrada (left) and Murgantia size comparison
Bagrada (left) and Murgantia size comparison

The Natural History of Orange County website has a nice page documenting the life history of what the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commissioner is calling the Painted Bug in a posted pdf entitled Bagrada_hilaris.

Update:  We wrote to Stephanie at the US Department of Agriculture
Hi Stephanie,

Apparently this new African Stink Bug was first documented in Los
Angeles and Orange Counties last year.  Does anyone need specimens
before I squash what is feeding on my collard greens and kale?
Daniel Marlos

Thanks so much for letting us know. Apparantly, it has been widespread in California for a while now and has been found in La Crescenta, Altadena, Eagle Rock, Pico Rivera, Bell Gardens, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, which are in a roughly 27 x 10 mile swath north-south within the Los Angeles basin in Los Angeles County, California.
Go ahead and squash ’em. However, I won’t have to put you on the nasty reader list now, would I?
Take care,

Ed. Note:  On killing insects
We need to clarify several things here.  Nasty readers are people who are rude to us, not people who kill harmless insects and other arthropods out of fear or ignorance.  We strive to educate the public regarding fierce looking, but harmless or beneficial creatures that are often squashed or that become unnecessary carnage by other means.  We have no ethical problem with the killing of problematic species, and invasive exotic Stink Bugs feeding on our garden crop would be one of those exceptions.  We are putting ourselves on blast here:  Yes, we will squash all the Bagrada hilaris we find on our produce since we don’t use insecticides in our vegetable patch.

7 thoughts on “Painted Bugs from Africa mating in Mount Washington: Bagrada hilaris”

  1. I live in Mid City Los Angeles (Pico/Fairfax) and two days ago noticed that one of my collard plants is totally infested. They’ve also attacked kale seedlings as of yesterday. I’ve got neem spray but it doesn’t seem to affect they at all.

    How do I erradicate these monsters?
    My garden is organic so far….?

  2. We finally got a positive ID from What’s That Bug – those little beasties are all over our figs. Will report and try to eradicate them ASAP. We are in northern San Diego County – no idea how they got here.

  3. We had them about 3 years ago and they destroyed 1st my tomatoes then the broccoli and even my alysum flowers. We even moved the garden to the other side of the yard. Its been great til today when I noticed them on my tomatoes again! I’m so frustrated!

    • We are surprised that they attacked tomato plants. It is our understanding that they prefer plants in the cabbage family Brassicaceae to which Alyssum belongs.

  4. I was talking to one of my conservationist sons about how Bagrada bugs ruined my garden a few years ago, and he said, “Oh, Bagrada bugs. We’re not worried about them anymore …” and listed a dozen new, horrible pests I had never heard of. “Bagrada bugs are sooo ’90’s, Mom.”

  5. I just noticed a few days ago that my kale in a screen cage has these bugs and don’t know what are they. At first I thought it was lady bug larvae. It took me half a day researching today and was happy to land here. Thanks


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