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Finding A Pest To Kill A Pest

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ARS researchers are looking at ways to control the crop-feasting bagrada bug

Bagrada hilaris, commonly known as the bagrada bug or the painted bug, is an invasive species known for its distinctive orange and white markings and also for its ferocious appetite. These creatures feast on vegetable crops in the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.), weedy mustards, and other plants and are a serious threat to our farming industry, especially in central and southern California and western Arizona.  The more they eat, the fewer vegetables that make it to our markets, resulting in potentially higher prices and less variety.

What is ARS doing to control this hungry bug? Find out below:

A sentinel card in the field, inside a cardstock triangle.

In Albany, CA, ARS Researchers at the Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Research Unit are conducting field experiments using sentinel cards to sample possible natural enemies that could attack and kill bagrada bug eggs. (Brian Hogg, D4896-2)

A scientist collects bagrada bugs in the field.

In Italy, Entomologist René Sforza and other scientists from ARS’s European Biological Control Laboratory are collecting bagrada bugs here and all over the world for conducting experiments on life history traits or for pinpointing the origin of its populations in the U.S. and beyond. (Stephen Novak, Boise State University, D4893-1)

By Peggy Greb and Jessica Ryan, ARS Office of Communications.