Invasive Red Bugs Wednesday October 22, 2014
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The Red Bugs are Coming! The Red Bugs are Coming!

Close up of Red Bug

Red Bug found in Ramona, CA

There´s a New Bug in Town –

What is this “Red Bug” that´s been in the news lately?
Is it harmful to the landscape?
Does it bite?

Southern California has a new bug in town . . .

This one looks similar to the Red-shouldered and Box Elder bug, except it is very, very, tiny in comparison.

Scantius aegyptius

Red Bug (Scantius aegyptius) Adults

Red Bug Sitings

A Red Bug siting in Orange County was first documented in June of 2009, according to the University of California´s Center for Invasive Research, Riverside, CA.

So far, findings suggest the Red Bug isn´t harmful to California landscapes and natural habitats; however, this new bug is invading southern California at a rapid pace.

A true bug with sucking mouth parts, the Red Bug appears to prefer feeding on weeds – which could be a good thing! A natural weed whacker!

Red Bug Backyard Infestations

Residents are becoming concerned, not so much about the Red Bug itself but the amount of Red Bugs infesting their yards.

Red Bug Nymphs

These are not pretty red flowers but little Red Bug nymphs!

Some homes have mounds of Red Bugs all over the yard, even in the gopher holes. Why the Red Bugs are congregating in gopher holes is a puzzle, since they usually feed on plants.

It may be the feces they´re after since gophers eat plant material … anyway, it makes for playing in the yard or having a BBQ a bit unpleasant.

Adult Red Bugs

Red Bug adults have similar markings to a Box Elder beetle.

Red Bug Threat

Economically, Red Bugs do not pose a threat in California; however, homeowners are becoming concerned when they see Red Bugs gathering in thousands as they migrate from dried up annual weeds to developed, residential areas.

It seems no one wants to share their backyard with them. …

One customer of Hearts reported that Red Bugs evidently dislike water; when she watered her back yard, the bugs repaired to the edge of the concrete patio where they remained until the ground dried out.

Red bugs eating knotweed

Red Bugs feed on Common Knotweed.

Infestations in residential areas tend to be in vacant weedy lots or yards that are on the edge of a canyon.

Red Bugs and Humans

The Red Bug doesn´t have the right mouth parts to bite and therefore is not a danger to humans.

Red Bug nymphs are solid red in color, or black, and adults are usually red and black.

They suck out the juices from seeds and stems of weeds like common knotweed, which grows in disturbed soil.

Red Bug Video by Jay Strassner

Red Bug on finger

Hearts Field Representative, Jay Strassner holding an adult Red Bug.

Red Bug Specimens

Jay´s specimens of the Red Bug – Their last meal and resting place.

Traveling Bugs

Red Bugs are originally from the eastern area of the Mediterranean.

As most invasive species, the Red Bug managed to travel to the U.S. via cargo and/or baggage.

At the moment, Red Bugs haven´t tasted our lovely ornamental plants and flowers – just the weeds.

Red Bug Adult

Red Bug Adult

Red Bug Control

If Red Bugs continue to inhabit your yard, finding plenty of weeds to eat, the best thing to do is to water more frequently (which can be difficult when we´re in a drought) and remove the weeds.

When and if Red Bugs become a real nuisance, as many insects do, Hearts Pest Management Service Professionals will provide a landscape inspection, free-of-charge, and treat either organically or with traditional methods for these little red invaders.

Article by Donna Walker

References

University of California, Riverside (2014), Center for Invasive Research – Red Bug .

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