Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Lygaeus turcicus

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Question
I live in Maine and have recently started growing sunflowers. I've found lots of these bugs on them. I can't find much of anything for info online about whether or not they are "bad" or "good" bugs. I've been just knocking them off. Could you tell me if I need to worry about them destroying my sunflowers or not and if so how I might get rid of them please?
Thank you in advance for any help!!

Answer
Marie:

If you meant to attach an image, it failed to upload....

We underestimate the resilience of plants in the face of insect damage for starters.  Second, sunflowers attract many interesting insects because they have "extra-floral nectaries," meaning that they exude sweet substances from their foliage and stems.  Many wasps, flies, bees, beetles, and other insects are attracted by that.

Sunflowers are also popular places for predatory insects like ambush bugs to hang out.

If you are not seeing heavy damage to leaves, flowers, or stems, then I would not worry.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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