Harlequin bug Murgantia histrionica
IDENTIFICATION — The 1/4- to 1?3-in. black harlequin bug adults sport the orange, red or yellow markings you see in the photo. You’ll find these insects from California east to Virgina and south to Texas and Florida. In the northern part of their range, watch for adults to emerge the first warm days in spring. (They remain active all year in areas with mild winters.)
Nymphs and adults suck juices from stems and leaves of squash, corn, cabbage, beans, asparagus, okra and tomatoes, leaving irregular-shaped, light-colored spots.
CONTROL — For small populations, handpick adults before they lay eggs. Continue to watch for adults through summer. Remove and destroy the black-and-white keg-shaped eggs found on the undersides of leaves. Spray plants with horticultural soap when bugs first appear, following label directions. At the end of the season, remove plant debris from gardens where adults overwinter.