The suggestions on a recent “what’s this bug? post on this blog made me realize how hard it was to tell apart several common garden bugs: the harlequin bug, the bagrada bug, the milkweed bug and the boxelder bug. They are all flattish, orange/red and black, under an inch long, and seem to always be mating.
After doing the research, I really wanted to see all the bugs side by side, so I made this picture and this simple reference chart. It is now my gift to you. You are welcome.
If you have any trouble reading this chart, I’ve made a pdf of it: click here. I couldn’t get WordPress to display a proper table without adding a plug in & …blah blah software misery…blah.
Also, to find out more about any pest, a good place to start is to type the bug’s name into google, and then “UC IPM” which is shorthand for University of California, Davis’s Integrated Pest Management Program. They have tons of good information. It is California-based, but the advice tends to be applicable elsewhere. For more climate-specific advice, check your own local University Extension Services.
Final note: Don’t mix up any of the above with baby ladybugs/ladybirds, which eat even more aphids than adult lady bugs. They look like this:
all the pictures in this post courtesy of wikimedia commons.