Jewel Bugs (Scutelleridae family), from the true bug family are closely related to stink bugs as they produce pungent smell when attacked. Not to be confused with Jewel beetles, which are a wood boring insects and lay eggs under the bark of trees, usually killing their host.
Identify Jewel Bugs
You can tell them apart by looking at their wings structure, the bug has only 2 wings (which you can’t see) when the beetle has 4 (and you can see the 1st set of wings called Electra on the top). You can also distinguish them by where you found them in the first place; the beetles will be near trees where the bugs will be in your vegetable patch or on leaves.
Some of them are incredibly beautiful, they grow through several moulting, every time changing pattern and color, a real treat for the eyes. This one has to be my favorite jewel bug.
Jewel bugs are leaf-eating insects. They will usually stay in cluster for better chances of survival. Spiders will be your best friends as they will create a nest in the evening and wait for the bugs to fall in the trap.
As they usually stay in cluster, it is often quite easy to remove the leaves affected by the jewel bugs and feed them to your chooks or put them in the bin. Otherwise you can try different organic repellent, the ABC has a good list of homemade organic insecticides, you can try and they organized them by bugs.
You can also buy a product in a gardening shop. Neem oil is a good one as it is completely biodegradable and acts by disrupting insect hormone functions and repelling egg laying activity. You can also grow Neem trees if you live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate and make your own.
Organic Pest Repellent
A good all rounder and easy insecticide is a mix of soap, garlic, onions and hot pepper:
- 1 minced onion
- 1 dried hot pepper
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 gallon of hot water
- 1 dash of soap
Blend everything, add the hot water and the soap and let the solution sit for a day. Finally strain it before applying it to plants with a spray bottle.
Make sure you don’t kill all the bugs in your garden, as some are beneficial. Predatory bugs such as Assassin bugs suck on animals and insects, especially soft–bodied insects like aphids and caterpillars. You will usually tell them apart from the bad bugs as they have a pointy mouthpart that they use to sting insects.
Resource to Identify Insects and Bugs in Australia
This link is a great summary for good and bad bugs in some crops in Australia. Over wise the Brisbane Insects website was very helpful in helping me identify the Jewel bug. It is a Brisbane guide though I am located in southern NSW, in a pretty cold temperate climate and it worked for me.