It’s a wasp! It’s a blister beetle! No, it is a histrionic bug.

harlequin bug
Murgantia histrionica or the harlequin bug.

It frequently makes ‘murga’ s or chickens of gardeners who think of it as one of the good guys. It is not! It will eat through a vegetable patch in a matter of days given the chance, and the only one having hysterics will be the gardener as she watches tormented tomatoes, exhausted eggplants and ravished radishes.

But the bug did not get its name from that. The second part of its name comes from its histrionic success at mimicking the classic warning colours of red and black. What my college texts called Batesian mimicry, after the bookish Brit who bantered with butterflies in Venezuela(how I wish it had been Bolivia). But that is another story.

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