Location: S. Calif. Mojave Desert, sandy wash, Pinon Juniper woodland
July 27, 2013 10:40 pm
This beetle was on a Purshia glandulosa plant. (Antelope Bitterbrush) in the Mojave Desert–in Pinon Juniper woodland. There were many and they hid from me. I found a cluster of them on a broken branch probably utilizing the protection, moisture or sap of the broken limb. They were very shiny, with a blackish/bluish tinge to them. Very beautiful, they captivated my attention. There was also a tiny red one amongst them, seen to the lower /middle portion of photo. There was only one plant that I noticed them on. All other purshia in the area were clean. I found a straggler on a buckwheat but that was it.
These are not beetles. They are True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera. We wish your photo had a better view of the larger individual which does not yet appear to have wings. We are not certain, but we believe these are Bordered Plant Bug nymphs in the genus Largus. They look very similar to this image posted to BugGuide. Your individuals lack the red marking that is prominent in most Largus nymphs. Perhaps desert dwellers lack the markings. See BugGuide for more information on the genus Largus.