What Are the Little Orange Bugs on My Plants?

Updated November 21, 2016

No gardeners want to see little orange bugs on their vegetables and summer flowers. Insects are unappetizing and may be responsible for spreading disease and bacteria among plants. It's important to identify the bugs rather than go after them indiscriminately, because some of those bugs may actually be a big help in garden environments.

Orange Bugs

Milkweed bugs are small and orange, or reddish-orange, in colour. Males and females have black markings on their bodies. Milkweed bugs feed on plants, most commonly the milkweed plant and sunflower seeds, and are usually found on the undersides of the leaves. Mexican beetles also have orange bodies and black markings. Mexican beetles feed on beans in the garden. Squash beetles, which look very similar, eat pumpkin, squash and melons. The bronze orange bug will severely damage citrus trees, sucking the sap right out of fruits and flowers.

Orange Markings

Stink bugs, which eat tomatoes and other garden plants, have distinct orange markings on their green bodies. Because the green portions of stink bugs blend in so well with surrounding plants, the orange markings stand out. Southern potato wireworms have vivid, orange-red heads at the end of their yellowish bodies. Potato wireworms eat the roots of plants, damaging them from under the ground.

Helpful Bug

Lady beetles, also known as lady birds, are very helpful in the garden. Not all lady birds are black and red; they often have orange bodies and distinct markings on them. Lady birds eat damaging aphids, which feed heavily on plant foliage. In addition to aphids, lady birds eat thrips, mealybugs and mites. Everything that lady birds eat is potentially damaging to plants. If you find orange lady birds in the garden, leave them there.

Immature Bugs

As adults, rove beetles are black or brown in colour. Rove beetle larvae look like yellow-orange worms with legs, and they feed on other insects. Minute pirate bugs are black and white in adulthood but yellow-orange while they are nymphs. Nymph minute pirate bugs also prey on damaging insects, including caterpillars, aphids, mites and thrips.

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About the Author

K. C. Morgan is a professional freelance writer, with articles and blog posts appearing on dozens of sites. During her years of writing professionally, K. C. has covered a wide range of topics. She has interviewed experts in several fields, including celebrated psychoanalyst Frances Cohen Praver, PhD; television personality and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig; and entrepreneur Todd Reed.