We have an infestation of, what I have googled and identified as, mediterranean red bugs, in our garden eating our plants. They are multiplying. What can I do to get rid of them permanently? Will they resurface in the Spring or die off when it gets cold?
Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. I’m sorry to hear about your bug infestation. There is very little information available about Mediterranean Red Bug Scantius aegyptius, but the good news is that while they are a nuisance, they are not harmful to ornamental plants (or crops), animals or humans. (They don’t have the mouth parts for biting.)
Scantius aegyptius is originally from the Eastern Mediterranean, and was first reported in North America in 2009 in California. They lay eggs in the spring, then go through several nymph stages when their size increases and their colour gradually changes from mostly red with increasing black markings, to their final adult stage. They feed on weeds, mostly Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora). Once the weeds die down and the fall months arrive, the adults look for places to overwinter, including homes and other structures, where they aggregate in large numbers.
There are a few ways to control the Mediterranean Red Bug. Remove and dispose of the broadleaf weeds that they are attracted to. Remove and dispose of plant litter where they may hide. For small infestations, pick them off or knock them into a bucket of soapy water. You can also use small piles of weeds as bait to attract them to one area then kill them with soapy or hot water. They are easily drowned, so you can spray them off plants with a forceful stream of 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.
Here is a website with information about Mediterranean Red Bug :
The Mediterranean Red Bug hasn’t spread much beyond California, and hasn’t been reported anywhere in Canada except for very limited sightings in the GTA. It belongs to the family Pyrrhocoridae also known as Red Bugs. Another member of this family is the Red Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus). The Red Firebug was first found in North America in Utah in 2008, and it has spread quickly and is now well established in Toronto. It looks VERY similar to Mediterranean Red Bug, and both are controlled the same way. Here is some information about Red Firebug from the City of Toronto :
Good luck with getting rid of this pest !