Think it’s a blister beetle
June 28, 2010
Good day. The pictured bug is from Mesa, Arizona. Scads of them have been around my peppers and tomatoes (which they have damaged or killed) since March. They seem to suck the juice out of fruit and stems. My peppers and tomatoes are organic. I don’t use chemicals in
the pepper patch. If this is a blister beetle, how can I get rid of them without chemicals? If it isn’t a blister beetle, what is it? Not much else I can tell you. They fly. They haven’t been around in the past 40 years. First year I’ve seen this many, if any of them.
This is a Small Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii. It is a True Bug and not a Beetle. Beetles have chewing mouthparts and they actually take bites out of things. True Bugs have piercing and sucking mouthparts and as your email indicates, they suck juices. Your letter is the first report that we have received that Small Milkweed Bugs are problematic in the garden. According to BugGuide: “Adults suck nectar from flowers of various herbaceous plants, and also feed on milkweed seeds(?). Also reported to be scavengers and predators, especially in spring when milkweed seeds are scarce.” We do not normally give extermination advice. We control problematic sucking insects in our own garden by spraying with a weak detergent like dish detergent in water.