Sunday, September 9, 2012

Golden Rain Tree Bugs by Gardener Dave

Golden Rain Tree
A  while ago Carol King wrote an informative article about box elder bugs on this blog. Well, my yard has now been “occupied” by some of their close relatives – golden rain tree bugs – uninvited by me, mind you, but very numerous all the same. They go by several other aliases: red shouldered bug, soapberry bug and Jadera bug – the latter comes from their Latin name “Jadera haematoloma”, apparently the most common species that we see here in Colorado.

The bugs have set up housekeeping near my one golden rain (GR) tree at the west side of my house – so far I have seen only a few actually ON the tree – but they are raising families and getting ready for a big celebration for sure!  So far their favorite spot seems to be out of the sun on a cedar fence about 6 feet from the tree. They are very active bugs – and most of their life cycle (except eggs) seems to be displayed all at one time.

Their frenetic preparations seem to be leading up to when the trees start dropping seed pods, or maybe when the bugs lose patience and climb the tree after the seeds (or maybe they will shake the tree - there seem to be enough of them to do that!) The attractive little miniature “Japanese Lantern” seed pods each contain several seeds the size of small peas that turn dark brown or blackish when ripe. The bugs seem to be interested in only the immature green seeds.

Here is what may be the Good News: In previous years I have been plagued with many, many little GR trees sprouting in my flowerbeds, in my lawn, and even in my rock landscaping areas. It seems that nearly every seed the tree drops sprouts a new tree. The bugs are reported to be “seed eaters”, usually doing little or no damage to the tree itself, but hopefully will just occupy themselves by happily feeding on the immature seeds. If this is the case, I will put up with the multitudes of bugs and be very grateful for every new GR tree they prevent from sprouting next year!
Golden Rain Tree Bug

So – this year will be another experiment at “Gardener Dave’s Experimental Yard and Garden”.  I will leave the bugs to their seed-munching, try to keep them out of the house and outbuildings and just see what happens. As long as they don’t eat the foliage I will be happy, and maybe I won’t have as many GR seedlings to pull, spray or mow off next spring and summer. Hooray!

Note the red coloring on their backs is in areas different from the box elder bug, and the eyes of the GR tree bugs are bright red – like they have survived a night of really hard partying! The nymphs have an almost totally red coloring. The site included below is very informative and includes several pictures of the bugs in different stages of life. There are also pictures which show how their markings differ in comparison to Box Elder Bugs.

And here's a site with photos of the golden rain tree through out the seasons.

Cheers,  Gardener Dave