See these insects getting “intimate”? They are bagrada bugs (Bagrada hilaris) and they can be a severe pain in my neck. I have recently observed several bagrada bugs on the weedy mustards surrounding the farm and while I have learned to manage the insects organically, I am never thrilled when they turn up. 

If you’re from anywhere in North America that isn’t Southern California or Arizona then bagrada bus are most likely unfamiliar to you. The insect’s native range lies in southern and eastern Africa and in the southern regions of Europe and Asia. The first documented appearance of the this insect on the North American continent occurred in 2008 in Los Angeles County. Shortly after their North American debut, the pest descended on my crops, laying waste mainly to the brassicaceous plants (the mustard family - cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, etc…) that they prefer.

Bagrada bugs are gregarious, have a short generation time, and they love to mate. They suck the sap from the tender tissues of crops killing seedlings and rendering more mature plants ugly and/or unproductive. Unfortunately, they are also fairly resistant to common organic pesticides - a worthy opponent, indeed!

I’ll share my strategies for particularly pesky pests like bagrada bugs in my next post.

If you’ve dealt with this pest, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Learn more about the bagrada bug here.