Harlequin Beetles

Latest Update 17th July 2016. 

Harlequin Beetles.

The amorous embrace of a pair of Harlequin Beetles, who if undeterred would quickly multiply and become a significant pest in my garden.

Details. 

Binomial Name:                                Dindymus Versicolor.
Family:                                            Pyrrhocoridae.


Why Harlequin Beetles are a Pest.

They range over a wide variety of edible plants, and seem to be especially attracted to fruit and flowers.
They are sap suckers and feed on nectar, and although the former is a problem the latter is not.
In small numbers they don't seem to be much of a problem, but when they gather in large groups they can cause a great deal of damage.


Pest Control.

The most reliable way I have found to remove these pests without endangering other more useful creatures is to place a container under the foliage on which they are feeding and tap the leaves.  Their usual escape strategy is to drop to the ground, so once you have them in your bucket or other container, you can drown them in soapy water or just squish them underfoot.
An alternative strategy is to spray them with organically approved horticultural oil, which blocks their breathing tubes and suffocates them.  Unfortunately it’s indiscriminate and will kill most other insects including pollinators and beneficial predators if you are not very careful.
By spraying them in the cool of the early morning, while they are still slow moving and before pollinating insects take flight, you will reduce the risk of damaging the beneficial insect community.  I only use it when things get out of hand and even then carefully target the pests and avoid beneficial insects as much as possible.