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Help! I am a new gardener and am trying to grow Brussel sprouts in the VA mountains. My plants are being eaten by some very hungry bugs. I have not found any cabbage worms but i see a bunch of bugs shaped like stink bugs that are orange and black. Any ideas what these are?

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This is likely to be the Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica). They are stink bugs and cause serious damage to a number of plants species including the brassica (broccoli, brussels, cauliflower).

These are tough bugs and you need determination to deal with them. All controls should be practiced to break the cycle:

  • clean beds after harvest removing debris where the adults will overwinter
  • strong solution of soap and water sprayed every other day to knock down the population
  • try floating row covers next year to prevent them from getting at the crop
  • as the second link indicates try

    the use of trap crops of turnip, kale, or mustard in the very early spring or late in the fall after the main crop has been harvested. Once the pests have concentrated in these areas, they can be killed by applying insecticides or by covering the trap crop with straw and burning. Trap crops should never be used unless they can be given careful attention to destroy the bugs attracted to them.

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