Unidentified insect
I live in Fort Myers, Florida. Today I was at Caloosahatchie Regional Park and was photographing butterflies when I saw movement on a plant. When I zoomed in, I realized it was two insects, hooked together like Love Bugs do, but they had a lot more red on them than Love Bugs, and they had an interesting pattern on their backs. What bug is that? Thanks in advance,
Greg Hill

Hi Greg,
These are mating Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus suturellus. BugGuide cites the University of Florida as the source of the explanation of the common name: “The feeding activities of cotton stainers on cotton produce a stain on the lint which reduces its value. A few authorities have reported the stain comes from excrement of the bugs. However, most have stated that the stain primarily is a result of the bug puncturing the seeds in the developing bolls causing a juice to exude that leaves an indelible stain. Feeding by puncturing flower buds or young cotton bolls usually causes reduction in size, or the fruiting body may abort and drop to the ground.”

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