What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mystery bug
Location: San Diego, CA
October 1, 2011 8:54 pm
Dear WTB,
These bugs have recently appeared in large amounts and are prolifically mating. It is late September and the weather has been hot and dry. I have recently planted a field of Protea flowers. Can you tell me what they are and if they will harm my plants?
Thank you!
Signature: Darwin

Red Bug

Hi Darwin,
The Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, is a non-native introduced species that was first reported in California in 2009.  According to the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research website:  “The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.“  That would indicate your Protea flowers are not in danger.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: California
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10 Responses to Red Bug: Introduced species spreading in California

  1. susan says:

    These bugs have been in my yard a few years and I live in the bay area.

  2. jodi hanby says:

    we have had them in riverside county for a few years too the best way to get rid of them is laundry soap and and water in a sprayer you can use cheap liquid detergent we have animals and dont like pestisides or poisons .

  3. Paul Vincent says:

    They’re called Firebugs. Just located a huge population of them here in Huntington Beach at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

    • bugman says:

      The Red Bugs commonly called Firebugs, Pyrrhocoris apterus, are a different, but similar looking species from Europe. Several years back, we received a report of Firebugs from Utah, and as of now, BugGuide only reports Firebugs from Utah. Since Firebugs and Mediterranean Red Bugs look similar, we would not venture to speculate that you truly observed Firebugs in Bolsa Chica without an image.

  4. Kathy Fortenberry says:

    I have planted milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies and have just recently notice these red bugs on the milkweed. Will they harm my caterpillars or are they just after the aphids or are they targeting the milkweed plant?

  5. E S says:

    Large aggregation of red bugs here in the foothills 10-15 miles east of Santa Maria, CA in field of dead weeds.

  6. Kady says:

    I’ve been watching these red bugs for a couple of weeks. It is very dry here (southern Tulare County, CA) and all the surrounding fields are dry. Although my mostly fallow garden is full of these guys. I have not seen them showing any interest in eating veggies. Nor do the chickens show any interest in eating them! This evening I found a dry dandelion stalk completely covered with tiny red nymphs(?). I sure hope they don’t acquire a taste for greens.

  7. gina says:

    We have been seeing many of these bugs the past few weeks in Baja California, Mexico. I don’t recall seeing any last year. We are about 40 miles South of the CA border.

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