The harlequin bug is pest of flowers and vegetables. However, they are more destructive in a vegetable garden than on ornamentals. The feeding damage appears as white stippling or spots on foliage of infested plants. They are particularly fond of crucifers such as ornamental kale and cabbage. They also feed on cleome and sunflower. The bugs are black with bright red markings, flat and about 3/8 of an inch long. The bugs lay their very distinctive eggs on the underside of leaves early garden crops. The eggs are tiny, white and barrel-shaped. When eggs are found, destroy them to prevent their hatching. To control the bugs, handpick or use insecticidal soap sprays.
Harlequin bug nymphs and leaf spot damage. Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Eggs of harlequin bugs. Photo: University of Maryland Extension