Improved Trapping Strategies for Managing Harlequin Bug: Applying recent research and discovery of its aggregation pheromone as a tool for vegetable growers

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $9,893.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2017
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Thomas Kuhar
Virginia Tech

Information Products


  • Vegetables: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower


  • Pest Management: trap crops, traps

    Proposal abstract:

    Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hahn), is an important pest of Brassica crops like collards, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli in the southern United States (Wallingford et al. 2011).  Unlike the major lepidopteran pests and aphids that attack brassica crops, there are relatively few natural enemies of harlequin bug (HB) and, in general, only broadspectrum insecticides are effective for control. Use of these insecticides are not compatible with IPM programs. Thus, alternative management strategies for HB are needed for maintaining the sustainable balance of IPM in these important vegetable crop systems in the southern U.S.  

    Currently, there is no available trap for harlequin bug, a damaging pest of brassica vegetables in the south. A trap could help alert growers to pest problems and could perhaps be used to attract and kill bugs for management purposes. In a series of lab choice tests we determined a color preference of harlequin bug for darker colors (black and green) over lighter colors. After reconfirming harlequin bug color preference in the field, we looked at trap shape to construct a trap-prototype (larger structures attracted more bugs).

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Preference in harlequin bug for certain visual cues such as color and trap-architecture.

    Objective 2: To evaluate the efficacy of the harlequin bug aggregation phermone, murgantiol with and without the addition of mustard oil volatiles.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.