Can you please tell me what these bugs are? They are in my vegetable garden and I’m not sure if they are good ones or not! I’d prefer not to spray and treat organically if possible but need to make sure what they are first! Thank you!
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. From your phot it appears that the insect in question is European Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus). This bug was first found in North America in Utah in 2008, and it has spread quickly and is now well established in the GTA. Here is an interesting article from the Toronto Star which discusses these bugs.
These insects reportedly feed primarily on seeds of members of the mallow and lime families. They tend to form dense aggregations in the spring, and a person seeing those could presume that they were causing damage, however they pose no danger to humans nor do they cause damage to plants other than members of the mallow family.
The best way to control their population is to emove and dispose of the broadleaf weeds/ plants that they are attracted to. Remove and dispose of plant litter where they may hide. Fire bugs prefer heat and dryness, and are easily drowned so spraying plants with a forceful stream of water from your hose is a natural, easy and effective way to fight these annoying insects.
For small infestations, pick them off or knock them into a bucket of soapy water. Ensure that there are no entry points to homes and buildings. Believe it or not, they can be removed with a hand-held vacuum. Pesticides have not been effective and are not recommended.