How to Get Rid of Bagrada Bug: Quick and Effective Methods

Bagrada bugs, also known as painted bugs, are a type of stink bug that can infest and damage various vegetable crops, particularly those in the mustard family like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

These pests can be especially destructive to young seedlings and leafy mustard greens, making them a concern for both home gardeners and commercial growers.

How to Get Rid of Bagrada Bug

One effective way to manage Bagrada bug populations is by monitoring and removing wild mustard weeds, as these plants often serve as a breeding ground for the pests.

Regularly inspecting your plants for signs of infestation, such as clustered eggs on the underside of leaves, is also essential in early detection and control.

To get rid of these pesky insects, a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical control methods can help reduce their impact on your crops.

Understanding the Bagrada Bug

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the Bagrada bug (Bagrada hilaris) consists of three stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. Female bugs lay oval-shaped eggs in soil crevices or on plants.

After hatching, wingless nymphs go through five instars with color changes. As they mature, the nymphs turn from orange-red to black, with similar markings as adults.

Adult painted bugs are small stink bugs, about 0.2 to 0.3 inches long, with a distinct shield shape and colorful markings.

Origin and Distribution

Originally from Africa, India, and Asia, Bagrada hilaris has spread to the Middle East and even reached the United States.

In the US, it was first spotted in Los Angeles in 2008, and then in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida.

The invasive pest is known for infesting mustard family plants (Brassicaceae).

As the Bagrada bug continues to spread, it’s essential to understand its life cycle and distribution to effectively control and manage this invasive species.

Affected Plants and Crops

Cruciferous Crops

The Bagrada bug primarily targets plants in the Brassicaceae family, also known as cruciferous crops 1. This includes:

  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

These bugs cause significant damage to young seedlings, resulting in stunted growth and potentially crop failure.

Other Agricultural Crops

Apart from cruciferous crops, Bagrada bugs also attack other plants such as:

  • Mustard
  • Cotton
  • Legume
  • Turnip
  • Radish
  • Potato

In some cases, they have been observed feeding on papaya, sorghum, and capers 2.

Ornamental Plants

Bagrada bugs are not limited to agricultural crops. They also infest ornamental plants within the Brassicaceae family, such as:

  • Sweet alyssum
  • Candytuft

These infestations can lead to aesthetic damage and a decline in plant health.

To better understand the differences in the impacts of Bagrada bugs, the table below compares the damage caused to Cruciferous crops and Ornamental plants:

Cruciferous CropsOrnamental Plants
Stunted growthAesthetic damage
Crop failurePlant health decline

Identifying Bagrada Bug Infestation

To identify and handle their infestation, it’s essential to distinguish them from similar pests and use proper monitoring techniques.

Similar Pests

Bagrada bugs are often confused with the harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica). Here are some differences between the two:

FeatureBagrada BugHarlequin Bug
Size5-7 mmLarger
ColorBlack with orange-and-white markingsBlack with bright red, yellow, or orange markings

Monitoring and Scouting Techniques

Early detection of bagrada bug infestations can help protect your community garden or other green spaces. Keep these points in mind while looking for bagrada bugs:

  • Life stages: They have five nymph stages, with newly molted nymphs being orange-red and older ones turning black on their legs, head, and thorax source.
  • Threshold level: Establish a threshold level, wherein a certain number of bagrada bugs would require action.
  • Scouting: Regular scouting can help in early detection. Pay attention to young seedlings and leafy mustard greens, as they are the most vulnerable to bagrada bug attacks.
  • Physical checking: Shake or tap plants over a sheet of white paper or cloth to dislodge and count these pests. This count will help determine if they have crossed the threshold level.
Bagrada Bug Nymph

Keep an eye on vulnerable plants and be prepared to take action when necessary.

How to Get Rid of Bagrada Bug?

Cultural Control

Cultural control methods aim to prevent the establishment and spread of Bagrada bug populations. One key method is sanitation:

  • Remove plant debris and wild mustard weeds from the area to reduce habitat for the bugs.
  • Avoid transporting soil and plants from areas with known Bagrada bug infestations to prevent spread.

Water management is another important factor:

  • Utilize drip irrigation instead of sprinkler irrigation, which could create a moist environment preferred by Bagrada bugs.

Southern California, Utah, and Western Arizona are among areas where cultural controls may be particularly important due to Bagrada bug presence.

Biological Control

Biological control of Bagrada bugs relies on natural enemies. Some examples include:

  • Lady beetles (predators of Bagrada bug eggs and nymphs)
  • Flies in the family Tachinidae (parasites of Bagrada bug nymphs)
  • Ant species that may feed on Bagrada bug nymphs in certain climatic conditions.

Effective biological control mainly depends on the presence of these natural enemies and the appropriate climatic conditions for their survival.

In areas such as Hawaii and Southern California, the natural enemies may play a crucial role in managing Bagrada bug populations.

Chemical Control

Chemical control options for Bagrada bugs include the use of insecticidal soap, pyrethroid, and organophosphate insecticides.

However, these should be used as a last resort in home gardens and agricultural settings.

In regions like San Diego, Imperial, and Ventura counties, chemical control might be necessary to protect crops from Bagrada bug damage.

Remember to follow all label instructions and safety precautions when using chemical insecticides.

Always prioritize natural and cultural control methods before resorting to chemicals.

Addressing Potential Regulatory Concerns

The Bagrada bug, also known as the invasive stink bug, has been causing damage to various vegetable crops, particularly those in the mustard family, in the United States.

Tackling this pest effectively can be a challenge due to certain regulatory concerns.

One concern is the potential harm to non-target organisms, such as beneficial insects and pollinators. In order to minimize this risk, it is crucial to use targeted pest control methods. For example:

  • Pesticides with narrow target ranges
  • Biological control agents specific to Bagrada bugs

Another concern is the development of pesticide resistance in the Bagrada bug population. To address this, implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy is essential. Key elements of an IPM strategy include:

  • Monitoring and accurately identifying Bagrada bug populations
  • Employing cultural practices, such as crop rotation and sanitation
  • Using biological control agents, like parasitic wasps

As the Bagrada bug can affect cole crops like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as legumes, it is essential for authorities to encourage farmers to adopt these IPM practices.

Effective communication with stakeholders and ongoing research can help accomplish this goal.


In summary, Bagrada bugs are native to Africa and Asia, but they have invaded parts of North America and Europe. They feed on cruciferous plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and mustard.

They can cause significant damage to crops and gardens by sucking the sap and nutrients from the plants.

You can use physical barriers, biological agents, or chemical pesticides to keep them in check.

  • Physical barriers include row covers, screens, or traps that prevent the bugs from reaching the plants.
  • Biological agents include predators, parasites, or pathogens that reduce the bug population.
  • Chemical pesticides include organic or synthetic products that kill or repel the bugs.

Keep in mind that chemical pesticides should be used with caution, as they may harm the environment and beneficial insects.

Bagrada bugs can be prevented by keeping plants healthy, removing infested parts, and rotating crops. Bagrada bugs are pests that pose a threat to agriculture and biodiversity.


  1. Bagrada Bug Management Guidelines – UC IPM 
  2. Pest Alert: Bagrada Bug – UC IPM 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about Bagrada Bugs. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – African Painted Bugs

Not the fig beetle
Location:  Western AZ
July 31, 2010 12:38 pm
I was looking up beetles that are found on figs, and kept coming up with the larger fig beetle that looks like a Japanese beetle.

These are much smaller and seem to be in a mating frenzy. Location western AZ, elevation approx. 1800 ft.
Judi V. Cugat

African Painted Bugs

Hi Judy,
These tiny Stink Bugs are called African Painted Bugs,
Bagrada hilaris, and they are one of the most recent agricultural scourges to hit the western states. 

They are an invasive exotic species that was first reported in Los Angeles in 2008 according to a very comprehensive report from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture

We encountered them in our Los Angeles vegetable patch last summer where they proliferated on collard greens and kale, and your photos are the first indication we have received that they will also infest figs.  That is significant information.   BugGuide remarks: 

Not native to North America, and a potential pest, especially of cruciferous crops (Brassicaceae, i.e. cabbage, kale, mustard), but also other crops (incl., at least in Africa, cotton, millet, potato).

Mating African Painted Bugs

Thank you for your prompt response.  My father (in Florida) sent me identification  just a few minutes before you did.  I am glad to help and will report any unusual things I come across. I’m a Master Gardener, La Paz County, AZ.

Letter 2 – African Painted Bugs

BUgs found in garden
Location:  Waddell, Arizona
August 7, 2010 3:55 pm
Can you please tell me what kind of bugs there are. They are all over in my garden and around my pond. What can i do to rid of them with out hurting the fish in my pond or our frogs?
thanks, Nona

African Painted Bug

i actually found the idenification after i submitted my request on your web site. They are african painted beetles, thanks anyway

African Painted Bugs: Imago (left) and nymph (right)

Hi Nona,
We are happy you were able to identify your African Painted Bugs,
Bagrada hilaris, using our archives.  These diminutive Stink Bugs were recently introduced to the U.S. and they have appeared in California and Arizona since 2008. 

They feed upon plants in the cabbage family including black mustard, a weed plant that is also considered an invasive exotic.  Since you have so many immature nymphs in your garden and pond, we suspect you have mating activity. 

You should try to locate the plants they are feeding upon, and limit your control methods to that area.  Spraying mild soapy water should help, and try to keep the solution away from your pond and its wildlife.

Letter 3 – African Painted Bug

small beetle id
Location: Orange County, California
November 4, 2010 8:27 pm
I found a small bug on my arm. Looks like in the beetle family. About 3/16 inches long. I was not bitten. I slapped it but did not crush it. Photo attached. Would like to know more about it if you can identify from photo.
Really appreciate your help.
Signature: Irv Waaland

African Painted Bug

Hi Irv,
True Bugs are often mistaken for beetles.  This is a Stink Bug in the family Pentatomidae, and furthermore, it is an invasive exotic species. 

The African Painted Bug, Bagrada hilaris, was first observed in Southern California in 2008 and in two short years it has demonstrated that it will most likely become a significant pest on plants in the cabbage family. 

It reproduces in prodigious numbers, and when there are no cultivated plants for it to feed upon, it is perfectly content to feed on the ubiquitous introduced black mustard that has naturalized and now grows wild over much of Southern California.

Letter 4 – African Painted Bug makes the LA Times

January 15, 2011
Ronald Burton, a journalism professor at LACC, sent us this clipping from the LA Times via the post office.  The notice ran last week.  What’s That Bug? first broke the story of this Invasive Exotic Stink bug species in 2009 when a healthy population was found eating and mating on the collard greens growing at our Mt Washington location.

Letter 5 – African Painted Bugs

Daniel – Stink Bug Nymph?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
September 10, 2011 4:23 pm
Is this a stink bug nymph? If so, is it a beneficial or harmful variety?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Painted Bug

Hi Anna,
Good call on the Stink Bug family Pentatomidae, but just because this Painted Bug is small, does not mean it is a nymph.  We first created a post for the African Invasive Exotic Painted Bug,
Bagrada hilaris,  in 2009 when we found them eating our collard greens. 

We quickly learned that they had only been reported in the country since August 2008, and that they were first noticed in Orange County which you may read about on the Natural History of Orange County website.  We had a massive infestation on the collards and the kale, but for the past year, we have not noticed them in the garden. 

You should eliminate them.  We did not spray, but we destroyed their habitat and food supply by removing all plants in the cabbage family.  Luckily they had gone to seed and needed to be removed anyway.  Once the food was gone and they had nothing to eat, they vanished.

Letter 6 – African Painted Bug found at Beach

Subject: I need bug help!
Location: Long Beach, California
July 12, 2012 8:16 pm
Hello, I went to the beach a couple of days ago and found this strange bug on my beach towel. It surprised me to find such a bug on the sand and trying to find out what it is has been driving me crazy! It just doesn’t seem like the kind of bug that would be near the ocean water. A little help please..
Thanks 🙂
Signature: Vivian

African Painted Bug

Hi Vivian,
Thanks for sending such a large digital file for such a small bug.  We originally cropped the image to show it was resting on the knuckle of a finger, but that reduced the size of the insect, so we cropped tighter. 

Knowing that it is a knuckle in the photo is important to understand the scale as this African Painted Bug is quite small.  The African Painted Bug, Bagrada hilaris, is an invasive exotic species first reported on What’s That Bug in 2009 from a colony we found on our Collard Greens. 

Most recently, we have found them feeding on wild mustard in Elyria Canyon Park.  Though we took photos, we have not had a chance to post them yet.  We don’t know why it was at the beach.

Letter 7 – African Painted Bug

Subject: Curious Nephew
Location: Mar Vista, California 90066-2724
July 21, 2012 9:03 pm
My nephew and I were in my parent’s backyard (Mar Vista CA, 90066-2724, Friday July 20, 2012 at around 5pm) when this insect landed on him. His imagination was running wild as to what this bug is about and he asked me if I knew. Well, I’m hoping you can help me help him solve this mystery!
Signature: Anthony Magnone

African Painted Bug

Dear Anthony,
While it is quite pretty,
this African Painted Bug, Bagrada hilaris, is something of a problem.  It has recently been introduced to California and it was first noticed in 2008.  

It is very prolific and it can cause problems in backyard gardens because it feeds on plants in the cabbage family.  It can survive in fields and open spaces because of the presence of wild mustard. 

We do not know if it has become a pest in the commercial agricultural industry yet, though we can speculate that it has.

Letter 8 – African Painted Bugs

Subject: African Painted Beetle?
Location: Green Valley, CA 91390
August 16, 2012 3:00 pm
Has there been any breakthrough in eradicating these beetles? I am an organic gardener and have been infested with these bugs in my Salad bed.

These little beasties seem to be particular to my lettuce, spinach, and beets which have fallen prey to them.

However, I have yet to spot serious damage, the volume and reproduction of these are immense and will soon be overwhelming my little garden. Any suggestions?
Signature: Jenn Green

Mating African Painted Bugs

Hi Jenn,
When we first reported African Painted Bugs,
Bagrada hilaris, which are True Bugs and not Beetles, in our own garden back in 2009, we suspected that they might soon become a major agricultural threat in Southern California. 

These tiny Stink Bugs reproduce at a prodigious rate, and nearly all adults can be found in flagrante delicto as your photo indicates.  These tiny Stink Bugs avoid capture by dropping to the ground and quickly escaping.  We eliminated them from our garden using drastic methods. 

We pulled out all the plants upon which they were found feeding, which was kale and collards, leaving no close food source for them to feed upon.  We have found them in nearby open space feeding upon mustard which is also a member of the cabbage family. 

African Painted Bugs feed on many plants in the cabbage family and that includes many forms of produce in home gardens.  We realize you do organic gardening, so we might suggest spraying the plants with a solution of water with a few drops of organic dish soap.  This might do the trick.  Good luck. 

We still believe that once they are firmly established, the African Painted Bugs will wreak havoc on our California agricultural crops.  You may also get some helpful information from this LA Times Article on the African Painted Bugs.

Letter 9 – African Painted Bugs

Subject: Anyone know what are these bugs?
Location: Los angeles, CA USA
September 16, 2012 12:53 pm
Help! these bugs are taking over our amazing garden, any idea as to what bug it is and how to safely get rid of them?
Thank you!!
Signature: Holly b

African Painted Bugs

Hi Holly,
You have African Painted Bugs,
Bagrada hilaris, a recently introduced species of Stink Bug that we have been predicting will become a major agricultural pest in California.  African Painted Bugs can decimate plants in the cabbage family in the home garden.  We do not provide extermination advice. 

We successfully eliminated them in our own garden through diligence, removing old plants, and frequently hosing them off the plants with a strong jet of water.

Mating African Painted Bugs

Letter 10 – African Painted Bug

Subject: African Painted Bug
Location: San Marcos, CA
September 24, 2012 9:58 pm
I found hundreds of these bugs of various sizes (the one pictured was one of the larger ones) in and around my Alyssum plants in my front yard. I pulled out the plants since they looked like they weren’t doing so good.

Now, I just have to figure out how to get rid of these bugs and keep them from coming back.
Signature: redfive

African Painted Bug

Dear redfive,
Alyssum is a member of the cabbage family Brassicaceae, so it makes sense that the African Painted Bugs were feeding on them.  Thanks for letting our readers know that this relatively new Invasive Exotic species feeds on ornamental plants in the family as well as food crops.

Letter 11 – African Painted Bugs

Subject: Angry ladybug?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
April 13, 2013 11:12 pm
We found these last year on some flower plant. Later, we began finding them in the pool and all over the garden. We live near LAX, but out pool man said he has been seeing them all over L.A, (Malibu, Santa Monica, Culver City…)

I showed it to the local nursery, a garden club, and others, but no one could identify it. The nursery though maybe it was a harlequin, but it;’s not.

e call it the angry ladybug because we can’t find out what it is. We found this site because we were trying identify the bug on our jalapeno plant. That is the Keeled Treehopper.
Signature: Alli

African Painted Bugs
African Painted Bugs

Dear Alli,
In just a few short years, this recently introduced Invasive Exotic species, the African Painted Bug,
Bagrada hilaris, has established itself in much of Southern California.  We first reported them from our home garden in 2009 and we learned that it was first noticed in Orange County the year before. 

Since you mentioned your jalapeno plant, we are guessing you are a home gardener.  The African Painted Bug feeds on plants in the cabbage family, including kale, collard green, mustard and broccoli.  In our opinion, they pose a serious threat to both commercial agriculture and the home gardener. 

We have eliminated them from our home garden through the removal of all infested plants and we spray the young flightless nymphs with a hose.  We still see them on wild mustard in nearby Elyria Canyon Park and we realize that without diligence, we might suffer future infestations.

Thank you so much for answering so quickly. We looked at your link and noticed their spots looked orange, while ours were white. What do the nymphs look like so we can avoid them.
And thank you again!!!
Yes, we are home gardeners with a vegetable garden of about 25×50. We fist noticed them when the at off our sprouting brussel sprouts. From there, they moved to some wild flower/daisy which is the pic we sent. In case you are mapping them, we are in Culver City.
The keeled tree hopper is on the jalapenos.

Hi again Alli,
Here is a link to the African Painted Bug nymphs we have in our archive.

Letter 12 – African Painted Bugs eat Figs!!!

Subject: They are devouring my figs!
Location: San Diego County, CA
August 5, 2014 12:15 pm
Dear Bugman
My young fig tree was going to have a big crop of figs – until these guys arrived! We live on 3 acres in northern San Diego County, CA, mild weather, etc.

I have spent HOURS looking online, but still haven’t found anything quite like them.

I don’t think they are Japanese beetles, but that’s as close as I can come. I believe that they attack fruit that has had a bird peck at it, but once that happens, they are voracious.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time,
Signature: Kathy

African Painted Bugs eat Figs!!!
African Painted Bugs eat Figs!!!

Hi Kathy,
When we read your subject line and saw the title of your digital image “BIG beetles”
, we thought for certain we were going to be responding that you have Figeaters, which fly in Southern California in August. 

These are not big beetles, but rather, small Stink Bugs, African Painted Bugs, Bagrada hilaris, to be more exact.  We first encounted African Painted Bugs in our own garden in 2009 on kale and collard greens, and we learned at the time that this was a new invasive, exotic species that was just discovered in Southern California. 

Several months later we predicted that:  “If there are no known predators, the African Painted Bugs might become a very serious agricultural pest in California.”  Most literature we read indicated that the African Painted Bugs prefer members of the cabbage family, including the kale and collard greens in our garden, but in 2010, we received a report from Arizona that African Painted Bugs were found on figs

In 2011, the African Painted Bugs made the Los Angeles Times.  You should be able to locate significantly more information on the AFrican Painted Bugs now than we found back in 2009, and we still maintain that this is probably the biggest threat to agriculture in Southern California in recent memory. 

African Painted Bugs have also been reported on citrus on the island of Cyprus.  We rid our garden of African Painted Bug by ripping out the kale and collard greens, but sadly, that is not an option with your fig tree.  Good luck with this scourge.

Daniel, I fear that you are dead on in your diagnosis!  My “BIG bugs” tag referred to the size of the photo: I had significantly enlarged it.  Now that I have a name I will do more research.  Thank you soooo much!

Letter 13 – African Painted Bug

Subject: red white & black beetle
Location: Los Angeles, CA
December 19, 2014 9:39 pm
I thought this bug was pretty so I took a photograph of the design on it’s back. Later I couldn’t at all identify it, so I was hoping you would be able to help. It kept leaning away from me when I tried to take a picture. It was about a quarter of an inch long, including legs.
Signature: Caroline

Hello, I’m sorry to have bothered you, since I just identified the bug as Eurydema oleracea, a leaf beetle

African Painted Bug
African Painted Bug

Hi Caroline,
Though you have incorrectly identified the species, you do have the correct family. 
Eurydema oleracea which we located on British Bugs is not a Leaf Beetle.  It is a member of the family Pentatomidae, the Stink Bugs. 

Your insect is an African Painted Bug, Bagrada hilaris, an invasive species that is damaging plants in the cabbage family including kale and collard greens.

Letter 14 – African Painted Bugs

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Jamul, CA
August 22, 2015 1:04 pm
I am located in Jamul, Ca just about 40 minutes east of San Diego. I was watering some plants and these bugs came out of the ground and are now all over the fence and this plant which is similar to tumbleweed bit produces yellow flowers in the rainy season. Was wondering what it is?
Signature: Teri

African Painted Bugs
African Painted Bugs

Dear Teri,
You have an infestation of recently introduced, Invasive Exotic African Painted Bugs,
Bagrada hilaris, a species we first noticed in our own garden in 2009, a year after they were first reported in California. 

It sounds like they are feeding on mustard, a common plant in the cabbage family that has naturalized in Southern California.  Our original prediction is that they will become a significant pest to the agriculture industry as they reproduce so rapidly.

Letter 15 – African Painted Bug

Subject: What is this insect?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
August 22, 2015 11:56 am
Hi, this litle guy was crawling across my bed around 11am August 22 in Los Angeles, CA. Could you help me identify it? Thanks!
Signature: Jeffrey

African Painted Bug
African Painted Bug

Dear Jeffrey,
We just finished a new posting of the African Painted Bug, an Invasive Exotic species, and you can read more information on that posting with the provided link.

Letter 16 – African Painted Bug

Subject: Black and yellow beetle
Location: Riverside, California, USA.
June 3, 2016 4:30 pm
My mom is always telling me that this bug carries lime disease and to always watch out for them. I got bit a few minutes ago, and I really don’t feel like dying lol. Please tell me there’s no disease!
Signature: Amethyst Huffman

African Painted Bug
African Painted Bug

Dear Amethyst,
Though it is an Invasive Exotic species, to the best of our knowledge, the African Painted Bug,
Bagrada hilaris, is not a species that is dangerous to humans.

Letter 17 – African Painted Bug

Subject: Small yellow and black bug with stripe down back
Location: San Diego, California
July 5, 2016 11:13 pm
We found a small bug with a shield like body with a triangle like head, 6 legs, antennas as long as the legs and a yellow stripe down its back. It was found near the shower in an upstairs bathroom. What could this be??
Signature: AE

African Painted Bug
African Painted Bug

Dear AE,
This is an African Painted Bug,
Bagrada hilaris, an invasive, exotic Stink Bug that we first reported on our collard greens back in 2009, a year after they were first reported in California.  They feed on plants in the cabbage family, including wild mustard.

Letter 18 – African Painted Bug found on Woody Plant

Subject:  Type of bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Los Angeles
Date: 10/18/2017
Time: 06:04 PM EDT
Found this bug on the main stem of my woody plant. What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Abel Z.

African Painted Bug

Dear Abel,
This is
Bagrada hilaris, the African Painted Bug, a recently introduced, invasive Stink Bug that is normally found on plants in the cabbage family, including wild mustard. 

Daniel first found African Painted Bugs in his own vegetable garden in 2009, a year after they were first reported as an Invasive Species.  According to BugGuide:  “2008 – CA – earliest NA record: Los Angeles Co., CA 2008” and “hosts on members of the mustard, nightshade, mallow, legume, sunflower and grain families, causes substantial damage to cruciferous crops such as broccoli, cabbage, mustards, and cauliflower, as well as infests a wide range of other crops and weeds species (Palumbo and Natwick 2010).

It has become a serious agricultural pest in the sw US.”  It seems the hemp family Cannabaceae can be added to the list of plant families affected by this “serious agricultural pest.”

Letter 19 – Aggregation of Painted Bugs: nymphs and adults

Are these Bagrada hilaris
Location:  San Pedro California, south of LA
July 25, 2010 1:38 pm
I found these all over the hose in the front yard flower bed. The smaller ones look like ladybugs but I think they are just immature versions of the bigger ones. If they are harmful I’ll get rid of them but I will leave them alone till I hear. It looks like they might be Bagrada hilaris from your site. I am curious if the small red ones are immature versions.

Aggregation of African Painted Bugs

Hi Delbert,
Your identification is absolutely correct, and we would strongly advise you to squash this invasive exotic insect before the immature insects develop and mate and it infests your garden plants in the cabbage family including kale and broccoli. 

Bagrada hilaris is a relatively new addition to the list of invasive exotic species that have been reported in California, but they are most prolific and difficult to eradicate.  You can read more about the African Painted Bug on BugGuide as well as numerous other internet sources.

Thank you for your quick response.  I have already eradicated them.  I sprayed the area with 3 different insecticides, and completely dug up the flower bed and sprayed again.  I will keep an eye for them around the house.  I told my brother about them. 

He is a specialist in pesticides and fertilizers in the sanjoaqine valley Bakersfield to Fresno.  Works for a major agriculture chemical company there.  He said he would keep an eye for them up there.
Delbert Crawford

Letter 20 – African Painted Bug Nymph

Subject: Beetle in the grass with Chinch bugs – fend or foe to the lawn?
Location: costal Sothern California (San Diego)
September 4, 2012 2:50 am
I know we have a Chinch Bug problem in the grass ; but I also have lots of these in the same areas of the Chinch bugs. They look close to Cosmopepla lintneriana – Twice-stabbed Stink Bug, but not quite.

Or maybe some kind of small Ladybird?
They are varying sizes, but very small. This is a close-up of one of the larger ones I placed on my arm.

Location is costal Sothern California. Season is late summer (1st week of September) Are these fend or foe to the lawn?
Signature: Steve R

Subject: African Painted Bugs – costal Sothern California
Location: costal Sothern California
September 4, 2012 12:52 pm
After a long search, I just figured out that the images I sent in were African Painted Bug nymphs and are a foe to the lawn and all my other garden plants.
Signature: Steve R

Immature African Painted Bug

Dear Steve,
We are pleased to hear that you were able to self identify this immature African Painted Bug,
Bagrada hilaris, a small Stink Bug that was recently introduced to Southern California and is quickly spreading. 

They are usually associated with plants in the cabbage family including wild mustard that grows in southern California fields.


  • 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.

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    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.

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11 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Bagrada Bug: Quick and Effective Methods”

  1. I just discovered that my collards are infested with these bugs. I sprayed them with Neem to no avail. I’m going to try a Pyrethin spray next as we have fleas as well as these bugs this year. Anyone have any ideas on how else to deal with them? It was suggested on one of the sites I read that Chrysantemums and Pyrthrum Daisies are preventative so I’ve obtained seed for these as well to companion plant in my garden.

    • Good luck with your eradication efforts. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply additional information. After our first outbreak in 2009, we did an effective job of ridding the garden using a hose and knocking them off the plants. They did not return and we have had no problem since.

  2. I bet you could get them to stop eating the figs if you sprayed neem oil on your tree/fruit.

    It doesn’t kill the bugs – it just makes them not want to be there …neem is very bitter.

    It smells like peanut-butter-garlic.

    It’s non-toxic to the plants/pets/people …it’s actually good for our skin when diluted.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. Would the bitterness be transferred to the flavor of the figs? Peanunt Butter/Garlic Figs do not sound very appetizing. Though generally we do not promote the extermination of insects, we are much less tolerant of invasive species, and the African Painted Bug is destined to become a serious problem. Any information on non-toxic means of eliminating them would be greatly appreciated. Discouraging them from eating the figs may just cause them to move to another plant.

  3. I bet you could get them to stop eating the figs if you sprayed neem oil on your tree/fruit.

    It doesn’t kill the bugs – it just makes them not want to be there …neem is very bitter.

    It smells like peanut-butter-garlic.

    It’s non-toxic to the plants/pets/people …it’s actually good for our skin when diluted.

  4. I have these bugs last month on my kales. I was able to get rid of them in a week and I don’t see them anymore. Initially, they quite a lot, maybe 50 -70 of those. I got rid of them buy burning them with a torch liter easily as they don’t fly much even they can. They like to cling on netting that make it much easier to burn them. What I did was I built a netting cage with the window mosquito netting and use the cage to cover your plants. They will come and try to get in and stay on the net. Then you just burn them. It works.


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