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Non-Native Red Bug Identified In Ramona

A red bug native to the eastern Mediterranean that was found in Ramona has been positively identified as Scantius aegyptius, the county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures said Wednesday.

A woman first noticed the bugs last summer, and county officials recently confirmed their identity. The bugs were first identified in Southern California when one was found in Orange County in 2009.

So far, the winged, black-and-red bugs, distinguished by geometrical markings their backs, may be helpful for gardeners. They are about a third of an inch long and seem to feed on broadleaf weeds, county officials said.


"They're not harmful to people. They're not harmful to pets and they can't bite," county entomologist Tracy Ellis said.

The bugs shouldn't be harmful to ornamental plants or gardens, according to Ellis. She said that since agricultural officials are still learning about the insects, they're interested in collecting samples.

"It looks a lot like a whole bunch of other bugs that are here in the county already," Ellis said. "So if somebody thinks they have red bug, they should check against a variety of bugs that we already have."

Information on submitting samples to county agricultural laboratories in Kearny Mesa and San Marcos is available online.