Dear What’s That Bug
February 18, 2010
I’ve been finding these little beetles all over my garden during the last few months. Can you tell me what they are? They seem to like plants and when I dug up some mint recently there were loads of them in the soil around the roots.
Thanks for your help.
Cape Town South Africa

Possibly Mating Cotton Stainers

Hello KAte,
These are True Bugs, not beetles, and we believe they may be Cotton Stainers in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  We found one photo that matches on a South African website, but the species is not identified.  We also found reference to a South African Cotton Stainer, Dysdercus nigrofasciatus, but we have not had any luck finding a photo, but trying a web search of Cotton Stainer South Africa produced an image on Flickr.

Hi Daniel and Kate:
They do look like Cotton Stainers (also Red Bugs or Fire Bugs). I think they are likely in the genus Cenaeus, of which there are several species in South Africa. They appear to be a very close match to C. carnifex. You could also compare to photos provided at the Diversity Explorer and Zandvlei Trust web sites. Regards.

6 Responses to Mating True Bugs from South Africa: Cotton Stainers perhaps

  1. Chris says:

    I found some insects in the garden that resembles your picture of a cotton stainer. Different shapes of the black marks and with white stripes. I have photos. Where can I post them.

  2. Riekie Foster says:

    Are these red bugs dangerous. I have multiple spots in my garden where they are clustered.

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