Orange Beetles in Your Garden: Understanding the Threat and Taking Action

In any garden, a variety of insects can be found, including several species of orange beetles.

Some of these beetles are beneficial to the garden ecosystem, helping control pest populations, while others can be harmful, causing damage to plants and crops.

In this article, we will identify common orange beetles that you may encounter, such as the Ladybugs, Soldier Beetles, Pumpkin Beetles, and Asparagus Beetles.

We will also provide a clear description of these beetles, discuss their impact on the garden, and outline steps you can take if they become a problem.

Understanding the role of each beetle species is crucial for maintaining a healthy garden.

Whether you need to encourage beneficial species or control the harmful ones, this article aims to give you straightforward advice to manage orange beetles in your garden.

Orange Beetles In Garden

Orange Beetles In Garden: Ladybugs (Coccinellidae family)

Ladybugs, or lady beetles, are small, dome-shaped insects that are well-known for their aphid-eating habits.

While they are often depicted as red with black spots, many ladybugs have orange coloration on their elytra (wing covers).

The number of spots can vary greatly among species, and some may have no spots at all.

Their bright coloration is a form of aposematism, a warning to predators that they are unpalatable.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Ladybugs are considered highly beneficial in gardens and agricultural fields. They are voracious predators of aphids, scale insects, and other pests that can damage plants.

A single ladybug can consume up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime, making it a natural ally for gardeners and farmers.

What To Do About Them?

Since ladybugs are beneficial, the goal is usually to attract and keep them in the garden rather than control them.

This can be done by planting nectar-rich flowers, avoiding pesticides that can harm them, and providing habitats such as shrubs or trees where they can lay eggs and overwinter.

If ladybugs become a nuisance, such as when they enter homes in large numbers to overwinter, physical barriers and sealing entry points are the best non-chemical methods to keep them out.

Do Ladybugs Pee

Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis)

Asian Lady Beetles are often confused with native ladybugs due to their similar shape and size, but they can be distinguished by the ‘M’ or ‘W’ shaped marking behind their heads.

They come in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow to red, but many have an orange hue. Their elytra (wing covers) may have up to 19 black spots, although some have no spots at all.

The variability in their appearance can sometimes make them hard to identify without closer inspection.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden

Asian Lady Beetles were introduced into various countries, including the United States, as a biological control agent to reduce aphid and scale insect populations.

They are indeed beneficial in the garden for their appetite for pests.

However, they can become a nuisance when they overwinter in large numbers in homes and other buildings, and there have been reports of them biting humans, though this is not harmful.

What To Do About Them?

To prevent Asian Lady Beetles from entering homes, seal cracks around windows, doors, utility wires and pipes, siding, trim, and other openings.

Physical removal with a vacuum cleaner can be effective when they are found indoors.

Chemical control is rarely necessary in the garden, as they do not cause harm to plants and are beneficial predators.

If their population becomes excessive, encouraging natural predators, such as birds, is a more environmentally friendly control method.

In agricultural settings, if Asian Lady Beetles become problematic by contaminating crops (such as grapes in vineyards), management may include timed harvesting to avoid peak beetle activity and careful inspection and washing of crops.

It’s important to note that while Asian Lady Beetles are helpful in controlling pests, their aggressive nature can sometimes outcompete and displace native ladybug species.

Therefore, promoting a diverse ecosystem that supports a range of beneficial insects is recommended over relying solely on Asian Lady Beetles for pest control.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus)

The Goldenrod Soldier Beetle is a common North American beetle with a soft, elongated body that is about 1/2 inch long.

They are often mistaken for fireflies but lack the ability to produce light. The adults are orange or yellowish with black markings or spots on the edges of their wing covers.

They are frequently found on goldenrod flowers, hence their name, but they are also attracted to other late-summer flowers.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are beneficial insects in the garden. They are important pollinators, moving from flower to flower and feeding on nectar and pollen.

In addition to their role in pollination, they also feed on small insects, including pest species.

Their larvae are predaceous and live in the soil where they consume eggs and larvae of other insects, helping to control garden pests.

What To Do About Them?

Since Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are beneficial for your garden, there is nothing that needs to be done about them.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Orange-spotted Flower Beetle (Ischyrus quadripunctatus)

The Orange-spotted Flower Beetle is a small beetle, typically less than a centimeter in length, with a black body that features distinctive orange spots.

The number of spots can vary, but they usually have four, which is referenced in their scientific name, “quadripunctatus.”

These beetles belong to the family Cleridae, which are often known as checkered beetles.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

The Orange-spotted Flower Beetle is not commonly known to be either particularly beneficial or harmful in gardens.

They are often found in flowers and may play a minor role in pollination.

Their larvae and adults are sometimes predators of other insects, which could potentially reduce the populations of some garden pests.

However, there is limited information on their specific impacts in garden ecosystems.

What To Do About Them?

Since these beetles are not known to cause significant harm, there is generally no need for control measures.

If they are found to be a nuisance, physical removal from plants is a simple and non-invasive method to manage their numbers.

Orange-spotted Flower Beetle. Source: xpdaCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)

The Milkweed Leaf Beetle is a brightly colored beetle with a typically orange or reddish-orange body and black markings.

They are relatively larger than the Orange-spotted Flower Beetle, reaching up to 10 millimeters in length.

These beetles are often found on or near their host plants, the various species of milkweed (Asclepias spp.).

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden

Milkweed Leaf Beetles are specialized feeders, with both the larvae and adults feeding on milkweed plants.

While they can defoliate milkweed, they are generally not considered a significant threat to gardens.

In fact, their presence is often an indicator of a healthy milkweed population, which is crucial for monarch butterflies.

However, in large numbers, they can cause damage to milkweed, which may be a concern for those cultivating these plants specifically for monarch conservation.

What To Do About Them?

If control is necessary, it is best to use non-chemical methods to avoid harming monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects associated with milkweed.

Hand-picking and removing the beetles and larvae from plants can be effective in small gardens.

Chemical pesticides should be avoided, especially because milkweed plants are the sole food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars, and the use of chemicals could be detrimental to them.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle

Lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata)

The Lined June Beetle is a large, robust insect with a body length typically around 20-30 millimeters.

It is characterized by its striking appearance, with a rusty orange or brownish color and distinctive white stripes running vertically down its elytra (wing covers).

These beetles are part of the Scarabaeidae family, which includes many large beetles.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Lined June Beetles are generally not harmful to gardens as adults since they primarily feed on foliage and are not usually present in large enough numbers to cause significant damage.

However, their larvae, known as white grubs, can be problematic.

The grubs live underground and feed on the roots of grasses and other plants, which can cause damage to lawns and potentially other garden plants.

What To Do About Them?

For the adult beetles, little action is typically required. If their presence is particularly bothersome, they can be hand-picked from plants at night when they are most active.

To manage the larvae, promoting a healthy lawn that can withstand some grub activity is beneficial.

This includes proper watering, mowing, and fertilization.

If grub numbers are high, natural predators such as birds can be encouraged, or nematodes that specifically target beetle larvae can be introduced to the soil.

For more severe infestations, there are environmentally friendly products available that contain milky spore disease (Bacillus popilliae), which targets the grubs of June Beetles.

Chemical controls are available but should be used as a last resort due to their potential impact on the environment and non-target species.

Lined June Beetle. Source: Junkyardsparkle, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red (Orange) Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii)

Despite its common name, the Red Lily Beetle often exhibits a bright orange coloration and is a small, leaf beetle about 6-8 millimeters in length.

It has a shiny appearance and is easily spotted against the green foliage of its host plants.

The beetles can be found on lilies and fritillaries, where they feed on the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

The Red Lily Beetle is considered a pest, particularly for those who grow lilies.

They can cause significant damage to lily plants by defoliating them, which can weaken or even kill the plants.

Their larvae also feed on the plants and are known for covering themselves in their own excrement, which can deter some predators.

What To Do About Them?

To manage Red Lily Beetles, regular monitoring of lily plants is crucial.

Hand-picking and destroying the beetles and their larvae is an effective control method.

Removing the beetles early in the season before they lay eggs can help prevent larger infestations.

For natural control, encouraging or introducing predators such as parasitic wasps can help.

Neem oil and insecticidal soaps can be used as a more natural insecticide option, although they may need to be applied frequently.

Chemical pesticides are also effective but should be used cautiously and as a last resort to minimize environmental impact and harm to beneficial insects.

It’s also important to clean up plant debris in the fall to reduce overwintering sites for the beetles.

Scarlet Leaf Beetle. Source: Charles J. Sharp CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata)

Diabrotica undecimpunctata, commonly known as the Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle or the Eleven-spotted Cucumber Beetle, is a small beetle approximately 6 to 9 millimeters in length.

It has a yellowish-orange body with eleven black spots on its elytra (wing covers), which is the origin of its name.

This beetle is part of the Chrysomelidae family, which includes many leaf beetles.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

The Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle is considered a pest in gardens and on farms. It feeds on a wide variety of crops, including cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, corn, and beans.

The adults can cause significant damage by feeding on the leaves, flowers, and fruit of these plants, while the larvae feed on the roots.

Additionally, they can transmit bacterial wilt and the cucumber mosaic virus, which can further damage or kill plants.

What To Do About Them?

Controlling Diabrotica undecimpunctata can be challenging due to its wide host range and mobility.

Cultural practices such as crop rotation, using row covers to protect young plants, and planting trap crops to lure them away from the main crop can be effective.

Hand-picking can reduce numbers but is often impractical in larger gardens or farms.

Biological control methods include encouraging or introducing natural predators and parasites that target the beetles and their larvae.

Insecticidal soaps and neem oil can be used for minor infestations.

For more severe problems, chemical insecticides may be necessary, but they should be used judiciously and according to integrated pest management principles to minimize their environmental impact.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Orange Tortoise Beetle (Aspidimorpha miliaris)

The Orange Tortoise Beetle, Aspidimorpha miliaris, is a small, rounded beetle, typically 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter, with a highly convex, tortoise-like appearance.

It has a bright orange or golden color with black spots, and its dome-shaped elytra often have a metallic sheen.

This beetle belongs to the Cassidinae subfamily, commonly known as tortoise beetles.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Orange Tortoise Beetles are primarily herbivorous and feed on the leaves of various plants, including sweet potato, morning glory, and other members of the Convolvulaceae family.

They are not typically considered major pests, but in large numbers, they can cause noticeable damage to their host plants.

What To Do About Them?

If control is necessary, hand-picking the beetles can be effective for small infestations.

Removing weeds and other potential host plants from the Convolvulaceae family can also help reduce the beetle population.

Encouraging natural predators, such as birds and beneficial insects, can help keep their numbers in check.

For more persistent problems, insecticidal soaps or neem oil can be used as a less harmful control method.

These should be applied directly to the beetles and may need to be reapplied to maintain effectiveness.

Chemical pesticides are generally not recommended for tortoise beetles unless the infestation is severe and other methods have failed, as these chemicals can also harm beneficial insects and pollinators.

Source: VengolisCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkin Beetle (Aulacophora foveicollis)

The Pumpkin Beetle, Aulacophora foveicollis, is a small to medium-sized beetle, typically about 6 to 11 millimeters in length.

It is characterized by its bright orange or yellowish body, which makes it quite conspicuous on the plants it infests.

The elytra of this beetle often have three black spots on each wing cover, though the number and pattern of spots can vary.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

The Pumpkin Beetle is considered a pest, particularly in regions where gourds, cucumbers, and pumpkins are cultivated.

Both the adults and larvae feed on the foliage and can also damage the fruit by feeding on the surface, which can lead to secondary fungal infections or reduced crop yield.

What To Do About Them?

Managing Pumpkin Beetles involves a combination of cultural and physical control methods.

Crop rotation and the removal of plant debris can help break the life cycle of the beetles.

Using floating row covers can protect young plants from adult beetles. Hand-picking and destroying the beetles and larvae when they are observed can be effective on a small scale.

Biological control can include encouraging natural predators like birds as well as parasitic wasps that target beetle larvae.

Insecticidal soaps and neem oil can be applied to infested plants, but care should be taken to avoid harming beneficial insects.

Chemical insecticides may be used as a last resort, following integrated pest management practices to minimize negative environmental impacts.

Pumpkin Beetle. Source: arian.suresh from Chennai, IndiaCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Orange Blister Beetle (Mylabris phalerata)

The Orange Blister Beetle, Mylabris phalerata, is part of the Meloidae family, known for their ability to produce a toxic compound called cantharidin.

These beetles are medium-sized, ranging from 12 to 20 millimeters in length, and have an elongated body.

They are typically bright orange or reddish-orange with black markings, which serve as a warning coloration to potential predators.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Blister beetles, including the Orange Blister Beetle, can be both beneficial and harmful in the garden.

They are beneficial because the adults often feed on pest insects, including aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

However, they can become a pest themselves when they feed on garden plants, flowers, and crops in large numbers.

Additionally, the presence of cantharidin makes them dangerous to handle, as it can cause skin irritation and blisters.

The toxic secretions of these beetles is especially dangerous for horses as they are often found in alfalfa hay which are fed to them. Ingesting them can even cause death in horses.

What To Do About Them?

Control of Orange Blister Beetles should be approached with caution due to their ability to secrete cantharidin.

Wearing gloves and protective clothing is recommended when handling or removing these beetles.

Physical removal is a safe method to reduce their numbers. Vacuuming the beetles can also be an effective way to remove them without direct contact.

Cultural controls such as maintaining a clean garden and removing weeds can help reduce the habitat for these beetles.

Chemical control is rarely recommended due to the potential harm to beneficial insects and the risk of cantharidin contamination.

If chemical control is necessary, it should be done with great care and potentially under the guidance of a pest management professional.

Orange Blister Beetle. Source: J.M.GargCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Convergent Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens)

The Convergent Lady Beetle is a common species of ladybug native to North America.

It is easily recognizable by its bright orange or red elytra with 12 black spots, which can vary in intensity and size.

One of the distinguishing features of this species is the presence of two white lines that converge behind the head on the pronotum, which is how it gets its name.

Adults are typically around 4 to 7 millimeters in length.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden?

Convergent Lady Beetles are highly beneficial in gardens and agricultural settings. They are voracious predators of aphids, mites, and other soft-bodied insects that are harmful to plants.

Both the larvae and adults feed on pests, and they are often used as a biological control agent to manage pest populations.

What To Do About Them?

Since Convergent Lady Beetles are beneficial, the goal is to attract and retain them in your garden.

This can be achieved by planting a variety of flowering plants that provide nectar and pollen, which are food sources for adults.

Avoiding the use of broad-spectrum pesticides is also crucial, as these can kill beneficial insects along with pests.

If these beetles enter homes in large numbers to overwinter, the best approach is to seal entry points to prevent them from getting inside.

If they are already inside, they can be gently collected and released outdoors or vacuumed up with a soft attachment to minimize harm.

Convergent Lady Beetle
Convergent Lady Beetle. Source: Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USACC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spotted Asparagus Beetle (Crioceris duodecimpunctata)

The Spotted Asparagus Beetle is a small, colorful beetle, about 6 to 8 millimeters long, with a reddish-orange body and 12 black spots on its elytra, which is reflected in its scientific name “duodecimpunctata” meaning “twelve-spotted.”

Unlike the common asparagus beetle, which has a blue-black body with cream-colored spots, the Spotted Asparagus Beetle is more vibrant in color.

Beneficial or Dangerous in the Garden

This beetle is considered a pest in gardens where asparagus is grown.

The adults feed on the asparagus berries and foliage, while the larvae feed on the developing spears, which can reduce the yield and quality of the asparagus crop.

They can also cause indirect damage by encouraging the growth of asparagus rust, a fungal disease that can further weaken the plants.

What To Do About Them?

To manage Spotted Asparagus Beetles, monitor your asparagus plants regularly, especially during the early part of the season.

Hand-picking the beetles and larvae and dropping them into soapy water is an effective control method.

Removing old plant debris and keeping the area weed-free can help reduce overwintering sites and subsequent beetle populations.

Introducing or encouraging natural predators, such as parasitic wasps, can also help control these beetles.

If necessary, insecticidal soaps or neem oil can be applied when the beetles are present, but care should be taken to apply these treatments after the asparagus harvest to avoid contaminating the spears.

Chemical insecticides are available but should be used as a last resort due to their potential impact on beneficial insects and the environment.

Spotted Asparagus Beetle
Spotted Asparagus Beetle. Source: HectonichusCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Conclusion

In conclusion, the presence of orange beetles in your garden can signify either a natural pest control ally or a potential threat to your plants.

We’ve discussed various species, from the beneficial Ladybugs and Soldier Beetles to the more problematic Pumpkin and Asparagus Beetles.

It’s important to correctly identify these beetles to determine the appropriate course of action.

By understanding the roles these beetles play, gardeners can make informed decisions to either harness their benefits or mitigate their damage.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

4 thoughts on “Orange Beetles in Your Garden: Understanding the Threat and Taking Action”

  1. This is indeed a cerambycid beetle, namely Eyryphagus lundii. At least, the photo of “Beetles of Thailand” by Ek Amnuay is exactly the same. It must be a male, as the females show a dark tip of the elytra.
    The broad and flat head and the widely separated eyes are rather characteristic of this genus. The species is known from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia.

    Erwin

    Reply
    • Dear EBM,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to help identify some of the unidentified beetles we had posted from Thailand.

      Reply

Leave a Comment