What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

We received the following letter in such a timely manner that we thought we would choose it for the Bug of the Month for November.  Sadly, Halloween will have already passed, but adult Florida Predatory Stink Bugs will continue to appear.  We are combining that letter with a previous letter that shows the radically different immature insects that are known to feed in packs.  Curious readers can also turn to BugGuide for more information on the Florida Predatory Stink Bug or Halloween Bug.

Black/orange “jack o’lantern” beetle
October 26, 2009
We spotted this beetle on our trash toter lid on October 23. He was apparently out for a stroll – did not fly while we watched. His markings are striking – a built-in Halloween costume!
Patrice and Allen Sigmon
High Point, NC

Halloween Bug
Halloween Bug

Dear Patrice and Allen,
Though you did not realize it, you actually correctly identified your insect.  The Florida Predatory Stink Bug, Euthyrhunchus floridanus, is frequently called the Halloween Bug because of its coloration and markings as well as its timely appearance.  It is also the time of the month for us to select a Bug of the Month for November 2009, and we plan to use your letter and photo as a point of departure, and include an image of the startlingly different immature insects as well.

Immature Florida Predatory Stink Bugs communally feeding on a Carpenter Bee

Red and black what I think is a beetle eating a bumble bee
Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:42 PM
I was outside working in my yard when I looked up on my awning and saw what I thought was a bumble bee holding a flower, but then I saw some liquid drop and I decided to look closer. When I did, I saw that it was a bunch of small red and black beetles eating the bumble bee. I was kind of shocked. I just moved to northern North Carolina and have seen some strange bugs, but these ones eating the bumble bee is the strangest. If you could, please tell me what this is.
Angelica
Reidsville, NC

Florida Predatory Stink Bugs eat Bumble Bee
Florida Predatory Stink Bugs eat Bumble Bee

Hi Angelica,
These are immature Florida Predatory Sting Bugs, Euthyrhynchus floridanus, sometimes called Halloween Bugs because of the black and orange coloration of the adults, which are winged. According to BugGuide, they are: “Predatory on other insects, including caterpillars, beetle. Nymphs, and to some extent, adults, are gregarious, and may attack large prey in groups.” Your photo nicely illustrates this. Despite what your photo illustrates, the Florida Predatory Stink Bug is a beneficial insect because of the caterpillars and beetles it consumes. We are guessing Bees, since they can easily fly away, are not commonly eaten.

Update: From Eric Eaton
Sat, 20 Jun 2009 17:12:31 -0700 (PDT)
The predatory stink bugs appear to be scavenging the remains of a dead carpenter bee (it is missing both hind legs, so who can say for certain…). Many hemipterans, even plant-feeders, will scavenge dead insects on occasion.
Eric

Aggregation of Immature Florida Predatory Stink Bugs

Aggregation of Immature Florida Predatory Stink Bugs

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