The Bagrada bug (Bagrada hilaris) is an invasive stink bug that was recently established in North America. Bagrada bugs are known to seriously damage cole crops such as cabbage and broccoli, as well as fruits and vegetables, including cantaloupe, cotton, green beans, peppers, and potatoes.
Information about how Bagrada bugs lay their eggs has been limited. They have generally been known to lay eggs singly or in clusters of 2-13 on or below their host plants or in the soil.
However, scientists recently discovered that the egg-laying behavior of the Bagrada bug sometimes differs greatly from most other stink bugs. Their observations will be published in the next edition of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
During a study of the insect’s life history, researchers observed and videotaped a Bagrada bug female depositing a single egg underground — instead of a cluster of many eggs, as do most other types of stink bugs — and then she used her legs to cover the hole.
“There are nearly 5,000 species of stink bugs in the world, and almost all of them lay their eggs in distinct clusters on a host plant,” said Dr. C. S. Bundy, an entomologist at New Mexico State University and co-author of the article. “Only a handful lay their eggs singly, and this is the only known species in the world that actively buries its eggs.”
“To our knowledge, this is the first report of egg-covering behavior observed in a stink bug,” the authors wrote.
“The fun question — one that we don’t have an answer for — is why have they evolved this bizarre behavior of actively covering up individual eggs?” Bundy said. “There must be some selective pressure causing the behavior — pressure from parasitoids, etc.?”
In any case, their observations may help future efforts to manage the Bagrada bug.
“Since this invasive stink bug is a significant economic pest for cole crops in the U.S., our description of its unique egg-laying behavior has important implications for efficacy of biological control and for population sampling methodology,” Bundy said.
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