Subject:  What are these bugs?
Geographic location of the bug:  North Central Florida
Date: 01/12/2019
Time: 12:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I know not what you are, but if you are damaging my althea bushes, I will get rid of you.
How you want your letter signed:  Althea flower lover

Cotton Stainer

Dear Althea flower lover,
Interesting, your digital files are titled “red bug” and these are indeed Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  More specifically, these are Cotton Stainers, and your documentation includes an image of winged adults and an image of a wingless nymph.  According to BugGuide:  “found on many plants, incl. cotton, hibiscus, oranges, etc.” and “a pest of cotton; ‘Feeding on the cotton bolls stains them an indelible yellow as plant sap seeps out of the puncture wound, and microorganisms and fungus grows at the site. The feeding habit also damages the fibres by cutting them, and affects the growth of the cotton boll.'”  The damage to cotton occurs because of the staining that renders the cotton unusable.  We are not certain if their feeding significantly damages other plants, including your Althea or Rose of Sharon, a member of the hibiscus family.

Cotton Stainer Nymph

Location: Florida

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