Would you identify these bugs? I live in S.W.France. Are they harmful to the lime tree that they have infested? if so, how do I get rid of them? Many thanks for your help.
I am not as familiar with French insects, but it appears you have an aggregation of Seed Bugs, Family Lygaeidae, of some sort, possibly a type of French Milkweed Bug. Seed Bugs are True Bugs and most suck juices from developing or dry seeds or the sap of grasses. They are known to form aggregations, sometimes to hibernate. My best guess is that they are not harming your lime tree, but using it as a gathering site.
Update: (07/28/2008) Species ID for “Maybe French Milkweed Bugs” pic
I’ve been a fan of your site for some time now. I used to live in central Florida and your site was an invaluable resource in helping me identify all manner of insects while I was there…during that time, I sent you a couple photos I’d taken of insects in that area. (I don’t think any of them made it onto the site, but then, I wasn’t actually requesting IDs for the pictured species and I know you’re inundated with requests, so I didn’t really have any expectation in that regard.) I have since moved to Brno, Czech Republic, and am now encountering a very different (but no less interesting) selection of creatures. Anyway, on to the point of this message! While browsing your site recently, I noticed the photo under the heading “Maybe French Milkweed Bugs”, which was submitted by a reader in France…I thought I’d send an email because I think I can help with its identification. The picture in question appears near the top of your first page of true bugs. I suspect the species pictured is Pyrrhocoris apterus, commonly known as a “firebug”. I have seen aggregations of them here in Brno, as well, especially during their mating season in mid-Spring. The information I’ve found indicates that this species is fairly prevalent throughout central and southern Europe. The fact that the submitter of the photo mentioned that they were found on a lime tree supports this identification, as well, as lime tree seeds are one of their primary food sources. Thanks for all the effort you put into the site, keep up the good work!
Thanks for catching this and bringing it to our attention. We have subsequently identified Firebugs on later postings, but we didn’t realize we had an old letter still listed as unidentified. We also apologize for never posting your photos. At times we are inumdated with mail.