Can anyone identify the beetle type insect that have been on my brassicas all summer? Earlier, they restricted themselves to the calabrese plants which I didn't mind because although I think they are eating the leaves, they left the curds well alone, so no problem. Now the calabrese has finished, they have moved onto my sprouting broccoli and sprouts. They are about 5mm in size, orange and black, are able to jump small distances and are generally quite slow, so fairly easy to squash. They don't seem interested in eating the caterpillars which are still numerous due to the gorgeous weather.
Wish you luck with your 'quest' we have never managed more than a token removal from flowering plants we would like to get some pleasure from seeing leaves and all.
Thanks for this Brian. I will continue squashing them, and not let them get so established next year.
We have them too, my daughter refers to them as 'Gendarmes', because they look like the French police in the 17th century. We get thousands of them, at present all over the herb fennel. They seem to go for pungent plants with strong smelling pollen. They are pyrrhocoris apterus, or firebug in English. They eat by sucking the juices of plants and not infrequently animals (according to the species, but not caterpillars) through a syringe like snout. They inject saliva which contains digestive enzymes then suck up the goo. This can seriously harm the leaves or prey. It is a considerable pest on hollyhocks and mallows during the summer and most gardeners will have seen it like you on their brassicas. There are three or four subspecies, including one with a 'cross' instead of distinct spots which feeds on dandelions and other flowers. They will hide amongst your logs for the cold winter months. They are messy, leaving goo and poo, but that can be hosed off easily otherwise quite harmless.