The Bagrada Bug-A Potential Pest of Concern for Florida’s Cole Crops

Fig 1. Adults: Female – Male. Credit: Gevork Arakelian, LA County Dept. Agriculture, Bugwood.org, #5493925.

The Bagrada bug a.k.a. painted bug (Bagrada hilaris) is a plant-feeding stink bug, primarily attacking plants in the mustard family Brassicaceae. It feeds on weeds, flowering plants, and cultivated mustards such as arugula, Asian greens, India mustards, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, canola, radish, and turnip. In addition it feeds on grasses such as corn, Sudan grass and Bermuda grass. It is native to Africa and was first detected in the U.S. West Coast in 2008. The Bagrada bug is recently starting to spread through south Texas.

 

The question is, how far will it spread from here? That it was able to make its way out of El Paso, where we thought it was geographically isolated, tells us that it could quickly make its way to the Gulf Coast states and the Eastern U.S.

– Raul Villanueva, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Quote is from “New insect threatens South Texas vegetable crops” in AgriLife Today http://today.agrilife.org/2015/06/03/bagrada-bug-found-in-south-texas/ 

Bagrada bugs have been detected on plant material in trucks traveling across state borders. The bagrada bug is not currently known to be established in Florida. The adult body is shield shaped (Fig. 1), and ranges in size from 5-7 mm long, and 3-4 mm wide. Females are slightly larger than males. The coloration of the adult is black with red and yellow markings. Eggs are initially white and turn orange-red as they get older (Fig. 2).

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Fig. 2. Life stages of the bagrada bug. Credit: Surendra Dara, University of California Cooperative Extension (first three nymphal stages, and adult); Eric Natwick, University of California Cooperative Extension (eggs and fourth nymphal stage).

 

Bagrada bugs are approximately one eighth of the size of the harlequin bug, Murgantia histronica, which have similar markings (Fig. 3).

 

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Fig. 3. Smaller Bagrada bug, sitting on top of the larger harlequin bug. Credit: Bottom: Surendra K. Dara. Left and right: Joseph E. Eger, Dow AgroSciences.

 

Damage: Typical of plant feeding stink bugs, bagrada bugs cause physical damage through piercing-sucking mouthparts.

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Feeding damage on broccoli leaves by Bagrada hilaris. Photograph by Gevork Arakelian, Los Angeles County Agriculture Commissioner’s Office.

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Bagrada hilaris feeding damage resulting in unmarketable broccoli plant with small multiple crowns. Photograph by John Palumbo, University of Arizona.

 

Monitoring and Reporting:
Early detection is crucial due to the ability of Bagrada bug populations to rapidly increase. Before planting, scout and inspect areas around the field intended for production. Sweep net and carefully observe the soil surface, weeds, grasses, and other vegetation surrounding the field to determine if bagrada bugs are present.

As Bagrada bug is not known to be established in Florida, you should report suspect samples to your local county extension office or the University of Florida Insect Identification Laboratory . Bagrada bug has been intercepted on several occasions by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry (FDACS-DPI) Agricultural Interdiction Stations; however, established populations of Bagrada bug have not been detected. Properly reporting suspect Bagrada bug samples will allow for the development of Florida-specific management plans if pest establishment occurs.

 

 

For more information about the bagrada bug click the image below:

The University of Florida, FDACS-DPI, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, and Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program have also hosted a series of educational workshops that have included Bagrada bug training. You can view a peer-reviewed PowerPoint for these educational sessions at the Florida First Detector website. You can also directly connect to an e-learning module on the Bagrada bug here.

References:

Halbert, S., and Eger, J. E. Pest Alert Bagrada bug (Bagrada hilaris) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) an Exotic Pest of Cruciferae Established in the Western USA. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Accessed 6/26/2015 – http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Plant-Industry-Publications/Pest-Alerts/Bagrada-bug-Bagrada-hilaris-Hemiptera-Pentatomidae

The Monitor. New insect threatens South Texas vegetable crops. Accessed 6/25/2015 – http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/new-insect-threatens-south-texas-vegetable-crops/article_56156f68-0af3-11e5-974f-77bdfc0170de.html

Leveen, Eric and Hodges, A., Featured Creatures: Bagrada bug, painted bug. Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida Accessed 6/26/2015 – http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/VEG/Bagrada_bug.htm