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Shield bugs
January 7, 2010
A while back I was working on a ship in Mauritania. These shield bugs arrived on board in a squall 30 miles off the coast. 80% of the vessels deck areas were covered in them. What are they, and what would cause them to be in a squall so far from land in such numbers??
Great site, Alan
Off coast of Mauritania

Swarm of Hemipterans

Swarm of Hemipterans

Hi Alan,
What a bizarre occurrence.  We wish you provided a close up photograph of an individual insect.  First, the majority of the insects seem to be the same species, but there are some bright green individuals that look more like beetles, possibly Leaf Beetles in the family Chrysomelidae or Jewel Beetles in the family Buprestidae.

Swarm of Hemipterans and a beetle

Swarm of Hemipterans and a beetle

The swarm itself does not appear to be Shield Bugs, but they are True Bugs, possibly some plant feeding species in the superfamily Lygaeoidae.  We wonder if one of our readers can explain this unusual phenomenon.  We are guessing it was a population explosion that somehow got swept out to sea.

Swarm of Hemipterans

Swarm of Hemipterans

Correction courtesy of Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
The brown bugs on the ship are something in the family Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs, squash bugs).  The green “beetle” is actually another true bug, a shield bug in the genus Callidea or Calliphara.  It is easier to tell from the distant image than the close-up!  The awkward angle of the close-up does make it appear to be a buprestid, I agree.
Wish I could be of more help.  The coreids should be easy for a European entomologist to identify, but I’ll keep looking, see if I can come up with something.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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