Length: 9.0 - 11.5 mm
Murgantia histrionica is the bane of many a gardner, feeding as it does on cabbage and other cole crops (as well as those plants' wild relatives).
A 1920 circular from the US Department of Agriculture listed several common names for this species, including not only Harlequin Cabbage Bug but also Calico Back, Terrapin Bug, and Fire Bug.
In this same circular F. H. Chittenden recalled, "Some years ago the writer saw many large fields in Maryland and Virginia from which not a single good cabbage could be picked, and observed similar injury to horse-radish and some other crucifers" (quoted in Blatchley, 1926).
The bug pictured on this page was feeding on horseradish.
No other species looks quite like this one, and the nymphs are similar in color and markings to the adults. The nymphs lack wings, of course, and also the nymphs have four segments to the antenna rather than five.
This species overwinters in the adult stage.
Recent reports indicate the Harlequin Bug has been introduced into Hawaii.
The maps below indicate the one Canadian province, the states, and the countries with records of Murgantia histrionica. For Mexico, the state records are from Chihuahua, Chiapas, Puebla, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, and Durango.
Countries with records of Murgantia histrionica:
A note about our maps
American Insects site