Plant Clinic

Bugs feed on seeds of golden rain trees

 

dade@ifas.ufl.edu

Q: Any idea what these red and black bugs are? I found them on the ground under one of my trees.

J. W., via email

A: I bet you have a golden rain tree in your yard. The insects you found are called goldenrain tree bugs, also known as jadera bugs (Golden rain tree can also be spelled as goldenrain tree and sometimes as golden raintree).

These bugs feed only on the seeds of this tree and a few other plants in the soapberry plant family, which includes balloonvine and chinaberry. By feeding on the seeds, this insect helps keeps the golden rain tree from becoming a serious weed.

After flowering in late summer and early fall (the flowers are small and bright yellow), the papery seed capsule forms. These capsules turn pink and look like Chinese lanterns. Inside are the black seeds. As the seeds fall on the ground, the bugs aggregate to feed on them.

Since these insects are beneficial, no control is necessary unless they are staining children’s clothing as they play on the ground. In that case, the seeds can be raked up and removed.

Adults are mostly black or brownish-black with a red abdomen and often found in pairs as they mate. The nymphs are bright red with brown legs.

You can read more about this bug on this web page http://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/mannion/pdfs/GoldenRainTreeBug.pdf

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail aghu@ifas.ufl.edu.

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