What Do Fire Bugs Eat, And Are They Dangerous?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:29 pm

On warm days, the red and black armored fire bugs often congregate by the hundreds in sunny spots in the garden. Are they harmful to plants? And dangerous to humans?

How dangerous is the fire bug?

With their red and black patterned carapace, fire bugs signal to their surroundings “Watch out, I’m poisonous!” – Predators such as birds therefore tend to give the animals a wide berth, at least if they have already tasted a fire bug. The animals basically don’t harm humans. The animals don’t sting, you can take them in your hand without any problems or even transport them somewhere else in a container.” If fire bugs are properly irritated, they can, like all bug species, spray a stinky secretion as a defense. This is fairly subtle to human noses, however, and is more likely to be detected by animals with a good sense of smell, such as dogs and cats.

What do fire bugs prefer to eat?

What Do Fire Bugs Eat, And Are They Dangerous?

Fire bugs, like all species of bugs, have a proboscis that they use to pierce plants or other insects to feed on. When it comes to their diet, fire bugs are a bit opportunistic:

If there is nothing else, they will sometimes go for a dead insect. “But that’s rarely the case. They tend to be plant suckers.

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And even though fire bugs sometimes go after hollyhocks (that are still alive) or even mallows and hibiscus: As a rule, they do not damage the plants so much that they die. They are therefore considered more of a “nuisance” than a “pest.”

Fire bugs congregate in the spring

When the first warm rays of sunshine warm the ground in spring, we often see hundreds of them sitting in a sunny, wind-protected spot in the garden or on the balcony: With their red and black warning color, fire bugs are hard to miss. Mild temperatures and sunlight lure the animals out of their winter quarters, and via scents they release into the air, the gregarious fire bugs congregate in large clusters.

“Fire bugs communicate via pheromones they release into the air. They like to form communities and then appear in appropriate numbers.”

Many fire bugs now get right to work on their record-breaking long reproduction: the fire bugs spend up to 30 hours hanging on to each other with their hind parts, after which the females lay 50 to 60 eggs in the soil or foliage.

Where do fire bugs overwinter?

In the fall, fire bugs seek quarters under tree bark and piles of leaves, in cracks and (burrow) holes, where they overwinter in large aggregations. Depending on how mild or harsh the winter was, more or less of them make it through the winter.

Fighting fire bugs

If a pack of fire bugs has strayed into the house, the simplest solution is to carefully sweep them onto a dustpan and move them back outside. To ensure that they remain there in the future, you should remove all foliage and plant debris immediately adjacent to the house wall to be on the safe side.

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What do fire bugs eat?

If you can’t get used to the sight of fire bugs in your garden – even if they are a nuisance at best – the only thing to do is to avoid planting plants that the bugs like: in addition to the hollyhocks, mallows and hibiscus mentioned above, these also include acacias, limes and horse chestnuts.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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