Essential Guide to Managing Cotton Stainer Infestations

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Cotton Stainer is a type of insect known for damaging cotton crops by feeding on the plant’s seeds and leaving behind stains on the fibers. These pests, scientifically known as Dysdercus suturellus, were once considered the most destructive cotton pest in Florida, but their current impact has diminished, making them a minor pest in the southern region of the state 1.

Despite their reduced impact on cotton crops, it’s still important for cotton growers to be familiar with these insects. Cotton Stainer bugs not only impact the yield of the cotton plants but also the quality of the fibers, which can lead to a reduction in value due to the presence of stains on the cotton. Understanding their behavior and finding methods to prevent and control infestations is essential for maintaining healthy and high-quality cotton crops.

Understanding Cotton Stainers

Scientific Name and Genus Dysdercus

Cotton stainers are insects belonging to the Dysdercus genus, with the most important species being Dysdercus suturellus. They are called cotton stainers due to their feeding activities on cotton, which can stain the lint and reduce its value 1.

Physical Characteristics and Identification

Cotton stainers, also known as “red bugs”, have the following physical features:

  • Bright red or orange body color
  • Black, elongated marking on their wings
  • Size: approximately 8-12 mm long 2

Geographical Distribution

Cotton stainers are found in various regions, including:

  • North America
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Puerto Rico
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina

They were historically the most destructive cotton pest in Florida, but are now considered a minor pest in the cotton industry3.


Life Cycle and Development

Eggs and Nymphs

Cotton stainers go through a life cycle that consists of eggs, nymphs, and adult stages. Female cotton stainers lay their eggs, which usually hatch within 7-10 days. Cotton stainer nymphs are generally red and go through five instars. Each instar stage takes about 21 to 35 days to complete development, depending on temperature differences source.

Development process:

  • Eggs: Hatch within 7-10 days
  • Nymphs: Red, pass through five instars

The nymphs possess wing pads and abdominal segments that gradually develop as they progress through the instars. As the nymphs grow, they molt, shedding their exoskeleton and leaving behind a larger one to accommodate their increasing size.

Adults and Reproduction

Cotton stainer adults, like nymphs, are red, but they also have fully developed wings. The life cycle of a cotton stainer varies from about a month to three and a half months, primarily depending on temperature differences source.

Adults mate to reproduce, initiating another generation of cotton stainers. Proper management of cotton stainers ensures the quality and yield of the cotton crop.

A comparison table of life stages:

Life Stage Color Duration Wings? Mating
Nymphs Red 21 to 35 days per instar No No
Adults Red 1 to 3.5 months total cycle Yes Yes

To summarize some important points about cotton stainer’s lifecycle and development:

  • Life cycle stages include eggs, nymphs, and adults
  • Development duration is influenced by temperature differences
  • Nymphs have wing pads and abdominal segments
  • Adults have wings and reproduce

Host Plants and Damage

Cotton Bolls and Lint

Cotton Stainers, or Dysdercus suturellus, are known to infest cotton plants. They damage cotton bolls and lint by puncturing the developing bolls, causing the lint to become stained and discolored.

  • Punctures result in weakened fibers
  • Stained lint is less valuable

Okra

These insects can also cause damage to okra plants. They suck the sap from fruits, affecting their quality.

  • Sap-sucking leads to deformed fruits
  • Reduced quality of okra

Hibiscus and Other Hosts

Cotton Stainers also infest various ornamental and malvaceous plants like Hibiscus spp.

  • Hibiscus damage is occasional but noticeable
  • Most common in southern Florida and Cuba (source)

Other hosts include:

  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Baobab tree
  • Oranges

Economic Impact

While Cotton Stainers were once a major pest in cotton production, they are now considered a minor pest, particularly in the southern part of Florida (source).

Comparison Table: Cotton Stainer Damage

Host Plant Type of Damage Economic Impact
Cotton Stained and weakened lint Reduced value of cotton
Okra Deformed fruits Lower quality and yield
Hibiscus Sap-sucking on ornamentals Aesthetic damage
Other Hosts Varied damage depending on plant Minimal to moderate impact

The various types of damage caused by Cotton Stainers can have different economic implications, with cotton bolls and lint being the most affected crop.

Detection and Monitoring

External Signs of Infestation

Cotton stainers, specifically Dysdercus suturellus, are known to cause damage to cotton crops. Some signs of infestation include:

  • Punctured bolls
  • Discolored seeds
  • Oozing seeds

These insects pierce the bolls and feed on the seeds, which can result in reduced seed quality and stained lint.

Behavioral Patterns

Cotton stainers exhibit a few distinct behavioral patterns:

  • Attracted to lights
  • Aggregation near damaged bolls
  • Diurnal activity

These insects are typically active during daylight hours and can be attracted to lights during the night. They show a preference for feeding on damaged or compromised bolls, resulting in aggregated groups around these areas.

Some important physical characteristics of cotton stainers include:

  • Corium: The leathery part of the forewing covering the base of the membranous section
  • Clavus: The triangular area located at the inner posterior edge of the hemelytra
  • Scutellum: The large, triangular plate that covers part of the insect’s thorax
  • Pronotum: The large plate located on the upper side of the thorax, just behind the head
  • Antennal segment: A divided section on the antenna, usually four in number
  • Beak: The long, slender mouthpart adapted for piercing and sucking

In conclusion, monitoring and detecting cotton stainer infestations can be crucial for maintaining cotton crop health. Identifying external signs and understanding their behavior can aid in the implementation of effective management strategies.

Natural Predators and Control

Assassin Bugs

Assassin bugs are known to be efficient predators of cotton stainers. They use their strong beaks to pierce and inject toxins into their prey, paralyzing them. Some examples of assassin bugs that prey on cotton stainers include:

  • Zelus spp.
  • Pristhesancus spp.

Spiders

Spiders are another group of natural predators that can help control cotton stainer populations. They use their webs, speed, and venom to capture and subdue their prey. Common spiders that prey on cotton stainers are:

  • Wolf spiders (Lycosidae)
  • Jumping spiders (Salticidae)

Birds

Birds are also known to feed on cotton stainers, especially when the insects are abundant in the field. Some bird species that prey on cotton stainers include:

  • Blackbirds
  • Crows
  • Sparrows

Parasitic Flies and Other Insects

Parasitic flies, such as tachinid flies, can help control cotton stainer populations by laying their eggs on or inside the insects. The larvae then feed on the host, eventually causing its death. Other natural enemies of cotton stainers include ants, which can feed on their eggs, larvae, and adults.

Comparison table of natural predators:

Predator Attack Method Example Species
Assassin Bugs Beak to pierce and inject toxins Zelus spp., Pristhesancus spp.
Spiders Speed, web, and venom Wolf spiders (Lycosidae), Jumping spiders (Salticidae)
Birds Flight and beaks to pick cotton stainers Blackbirds, Crows, Sparrows
Parasitic Flies Lay eggs on or inside host Tachinid flies

Pros and cons of natural predators:

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Target-specific
  • Low-cost

Cons:

  • Seasonal dependency
  • Limited availability
  • Can be affected by environmental factors

Integrated Pest Management

Cultural and Physical Control Measures

Cultural and physical control measures are essential components of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for cotton stainers (Dysdercus suturellus), a cotton pest primarily found in southern Florida. One significant control measure is sanitation, which involves removing plant debris, cotton waste, and overwintering sites to reduce pests’ breeding grounds. For example:

  • Clearing plant debris and cotton waste
  • Ensuring proper field sanitation

Another physical control method is the use of barriers such as chicken wire to prevent pests from accessing the cotton plants. Hand picking is also an option, especially for small-scale infestations.

Chemical Control Options

Chemical control options for cotton stainers include the use of insecticides, such as organophosphates or natural extracts like custard apple leaf extract, pyrethrum formulation, and black wattle extract. These insecticides can be more environmentally friendly and locally sourced in some cases. For example, in Tanzania, the custard apple leaf extract is an option.

Pros of using chemical control options:

  • Effective in controlling cotton stainer populations
  • Provides a faster solution compared to non-chemical methods

Cons of using chemical control options:

  • Potential harm to non-target organisms
  • May lead to pesticide resistance in pests

A comparison of cultural and physical control measures versus chemical control options:

Control Method Pros Cons
Cultural and Physical Environmentally friendly, sustainable May be slower and more time-consuming
Chemical Control Options Fast and effective in controlling pests Potential harm to non-target organisms, possible pesticide resistance

In conclusion, implementing both cultural and physical control measures with chemical control options is crucial for a well-rounded Integrated Pest Management strategy to tackle cotton stainers’ infestations.

Cotton Stainers and Clothing

Dealing with Stains

Cotton stainers are pests that belong to the pyrrhocoridae family. They can cause stains on clothing, especially on cotton fabric. These stains primarily occur when the bugs puncture the seeds in the developing cotton bolls, causing a juice to exude that leaves a stain.

To deal with stains on clothes, follow these steps:

  1. Act fast: Treat the stain immediately to minimize its impact.
  2. Pre-treatment: Apply a stain remover or pre-treatment solution to the affected area.

For oil-based stains, you can also use:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Baking soda or cornstarch

Discoloration

Aside from stains, cotton stainers can also cause discoloration in clothing. This is primarily due to the bugs’ feeding activities.

Combatting discoloration may involve slightly different approaches, like:

  1. Preventive measures: Keep your clothing away from areas where cotton stainers are prevalent – e.g., stored cotton or agricultural sites.
  2. Color-safe bleach: Use color-safe bleach in your regular wash to minimize discoloration.

Comparison table: Dealing with Stains vs. Discoloration

Dealing with Stains Dealing with Discoloration
Cause Cotton stainers puncturing developing cotton bolls Feeding activities of the cotton stainers
Pre-treatment Stain remover or pre-treatment solution Color-safe bleach during wash
Duration Acts fast Preventive measures for long-term care

Remember, cotton stainers can cause unsightly stains and discoloration on your clothing. Act fast and use appropriate treatments to minimize the impact and keep your clothes looking fresh and vibrant.

Footnotes

  1. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/field/bugs/cotton_stainer.htm 2
  2. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN606
  3. https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g4256

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Red Bug: Introduced species spreading in California

 

Mystery bug
Location: San Diego, CA
October 1, 2011 8:54 pm
Dear WTB,
These bugs have recently appeared in large amounts and are prolifically mating. It is late September and the weather has been hot and dry. I have recently planted a field of Protea flowers. Can you tell me what they are and if they will harm my plants?
Thank you!
Signature: Darwin

Red Bug

Hi Darwin,
The Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, is a non-native introduced species that was first reported in California in 2009.  According to the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research website:  “The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.“  That would indicate your Protea flowers are not in danger.

Letter 2 – Red Bug from Hong Kong

 

cool red beetle
Location: Hong Kong
May 6, 2012 1:27 am
Hi,
Could not find anything on the net, but found your site! This beetle lives in Hong Kong. A handsome specimin, but what is it?
Signature: Zine

Red Bug from Hong Kong

Dear Zine,
This is not a beetle, but rather a True Bug.  More specifically it is a Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  We located a matching photo on FlickR that was identified as the genus
Cenaeus and then following that genus name, we found the BioDiversity Explorer post on the genus which identified the family.  We also found a common name Fire Bug, but that name is used for many other species.  We also found a posting in our archive from South Africa that we also believe is the genus Cenaeus.

Letter 3 – Predatory Red Bugs from India: Antilochus conqueberti

 

Subject: Help identify this beetle?! please
Location: Vellore, India ; Bangalore, India
July 29, 2015 6:44 am
Greetings Mr Bugman
I have come across this particular insect (which I assume is a Beetle) since my childhood . Unfortunately for me, it has been very hard to identify this bug because to my knowledge it is not known by any specific name in any of the Indian languages I speak. Add to this the fact that environment conservation and species identification takes a backseat in developing countries has made it hard for me to crosscheck with any National Database. I would like to know if this insect could be endemic to my country for I did not find any references to it any of the Google searches. Also, they mate during July – I have always found it intriguing to find a pair of them attached at their hinds ,walking busily with one walking backwards. I haven’t specifically noticed if the females and males are physiologically different. I found this site by chance and felt this would be a good place to have my curiosity quenched. I am attaching two recent photos of the insect. I must apologise as the pictures may not be of good quality. Thanks in advance.
PS: I have found this insect in South India, not the North
Signature: Varun Bharadwaj

Predatory Red Bug
Predatory Red Bug

Dear Varun,
These look like Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and in one of your images, it appears that one individual is eating another.  Several years ago we posted an image of a predatory Red Bug from India that was eventually identified as
Antilochus conqueberti.  Members of this family are frequently found in multigenerational aggregations like the one you have included, and close inspection of that image reveals that there are several mating pairs among the crowd.  To the best of our knowledge, this is an endemic species in India.  Here is a FlickR image for comparison, but it is identified as Antilochus cocqueberti.  The Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies site identifies this Pyrrhocorid predator as Antilochus conqueberti.

Aggregation of Red Bugs
Aggregation of Red Bugs

Hi
First things first – thank you so much for such a prompt response and I am sorry to have sent so many requests to an already overworked staff.
Now that I have the Family and Order of the insect ( Antilochus conqueberti), I am able to get more relevant results from Google Searches . From what I have found, it appears that this insect is spread across Yunnan of China and Thailand as well. The possibility that it is “cannibalistic” is simply shocking. I have come across references to it as being a pest in Cotton Crops and with studies being conducted to identify a potent insecticide for it.
I have also heard someone mention that it is poisonous. Any way to validate that claim? Also, are they capable of  feeding on Humans?
Lastly, I have another picture of them aggregated in a mound. Would you guys be interested in it?
Varun Bharadwaj

Mating Red Bugs
Mating Red Bugs

Hi again Varun,
At this time, we cannot verify if they are poisonous, but we doubt it.  They do not suck human blood.  The previous images you sent are sufficient.

Letter 4 – Mating True Bugs from South Africa: Cotton Stainers perhaps

 

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.
Kate
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.
Karl

Letter 5 – Red Eggs from Australia are Assassin Bug Eggs

 

Subject: Red eggs?
Location: Wahroonga, NSW, Australia
January 20, 2016 8:54 pm
Hey there,
I work in bush regeneration near the headwaters of the Lane Cove River in NSW. We’re in a fairly rainy sort of area.
One of my colleagues sent me this picture of what appear to be red insect eggs. I searched through your egg posts for several pages, but the closest thing to these seemed to be ladybeetle eggs, however those are only yellow.
Unfortunately I don’t know what plant these eggs have been laid on. It actually looks like a weed.
Cheers 🙂
Signature: Frances

Possibly Phasmid Eggs
Assassin Bug Eggs

Dear Frances,
Eggs can be very difficult to properly identify.  The color looks like an exact match and the general shape is very close to this egg cluster pictured on Getty Images that is identified as a clutch of Stick Insect or Phasmid eggs.  We have not been able to locate any other corroborating images.

Update:  Assassin Bug Eggs
Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash, we researched Assassin Bug Eggs and we found this image that exactly matches on FlickR.  No particular species is identified, but the eggs were found in Australia.  BunyipCo supports that ID.  Assassin Bugs are beneficial predators.

 

Letter 6 – Mediterranean Red Bug

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: California, Torrance
November 2, 2014 1:02 pm
These came out of nowhere. They have wings but don’t fly. They were found in the park next door and have migrated toward our house, but don’t seem to know where to go or what to do. They just mill about. They seem to avoid plants and keep to open areas.
Signature: Dan

Mediterranean Red Bug
Mediterranean Red Bug

Dear Dan,
Your insect is
Scantius aegyptius, a non-native Red Bug in the family Red Bugs Pyrrhocoridae that was first detected in Southern California in 2009, according to BugGuide.  It is native to the Mediterranean, so even though it does not have an official common name, we have been referring to it as a Mediterranean Red Bug.  According to the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research:  “Damage: The literature contains very little information regarding the biology of S. aegyptius and Scantius species in general are not considered to be economically important species.  In California, Scantius has been observed feeding on the developing seeds and stems of Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora).  It is likely that S. aegyptius will feed on the seeds of several species of annual herbaceous plants.  The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations”

Letter 7 – Cotton Stainer Aggregation in Puerto Rico

 

small milkweed bugs or boxelder bugs? We can’t tell…
Your site has examples of each, but we can’t tell which is a better match for the participants in this rugby scrum last month on a beach in Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico. It seems like the sheer number of bugs might mean boxelders (and there were other, similar-sized bunches nearby), but their markings don’t seem to be a match for either species… And which team is winning? Thanks!
Jim & Sandy
NYC

Hi Jim and Sandy,
Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus andreae, are another species of Hemipteran that forms aggregations. They are found in the Southern States as well as tropical countries. Stainers are also known as Red Bugs and are in the family Pyrrhocoridae.

Letter 8 – Aggregation of Soapberry Bugs in South Africa

 

Subject: Red Bugs in my new Garden
Location: South Africa
January 29, 2014 5:52 am
Hi! I’ve just moved into a new house and these mysterious red bugs are all over the garden. They don’t seem to be “dangerous” since they’ve crawled over me many times without biting me. They nest in crevices in the wall and the pavement and in shrubs. I can be wrong, but Im sure I’ve seen that they eat some of the plants. I have also seen them eat old figs that have fallen from the tree. It’s summer now, and I’ve only lived here since the beginning of summer – so I don’t know how prevalent they are during winter months. Thanks so much!
Signature: Philip

Aggregation of Red Bugs
Aggregation of Soapberry Bugs

Hi Philip,
Interestingly, these really are Red Bugs or Cotton Stainers in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and we believe they are both winged adults and wingless nymphs of 
Cenaeus carnifex.  You may verify that on South African Photographs.

Close up of Red Bugs
Close up of Soapberry Bugs

Correction:  Soapberry Bugs, not Red Bugs
May 3, 2014
We just received a comment from Scott Carroll correcting this identification.  It seems Soapberry Bug is a subfamily Serinethinae that includes our North American Boxelder Bugs and Red Shouldered Bugs.  We even located the Soapberry Bugs of the World website.

Cenaeus carnifex
Leptocoris mutilatus

 

Letter 9 – Red Bug Aggregation in Spain

 

mediterranean beetle
Location: Andalucia Spain
January 6, 2011 12:27 pm
Hi there are lot of these beetles hibernating under the bark of trees where I live in the south of Spain. Can you tell me what they are please?
Signature: EB

Red Bug Aggregation

Dear EB,
The only common name we can find for this species,
Scantius aegyptius, is also the common name for the entire family they belong to, Pyrrhocoridae, and that common name is Red Bug.  This Red Bug is native to the eastern Mediterranean, but in recent years it has been introduced to North America.  The UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research has a marvelous page devoted to the species first documented in Orange County in Southern California in 2009.  According to the site:  “The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.”  The TrekNature website also has a very nice photo of this Red Bug.  Red Bugs are not beetles.  They are True Bugs in the order Hemiptera.

Red Bugs

Letter 10 – Cotton Stainers from South Africa

 

Subject: Soapberry bugs
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
August 25, 2014 10:06 am
here’s the pictures of the bugs I found on the trunks of these trees. Some people have them in their gardens too, but I’ve never seen them anywhere else. This picture was taken at the start of the winter.
Signature: Cindy

Cotton Stainer Aggregation
Cotton Stainer Aggregation

Dear Cindy,
We disagree with your identification.  We do not believe these are Soapberry Bugs in the subfamily Serinethinae, but rather Cotton Stainers  or Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  There are some similar looking images of Cotton Stainers in the genus
Dysdercus on ISpot and there is an image on FlickR identified as Dysdercus nigrofasciatus.  This note is also posted on ISpot:  “D. nigrofasciatus and D. fasciatus are not synonyms. There are four species of Dysdercus occurring in South Africa: fasciatus, nigrofasciatus, intermedius and superstitiosus. the first three looks superficially similar, but there are clear differences, for example: the head of fasciatus is significantly longer than the head of nigrofasciatus, etc.”  We are confident that the genus Dysdercus is correct, but we are uncertain of the species.

Cotton Stainer Aggregation
Cotton Stainer Aggregation

 

Letter 11 – Red Bugs from South Africa

 

Subject: Red Bug
Location: South Africa
March 23, 2015 2:45 am
Can you please identify these bugs. Notice one is different than the other. They are pairing most of the time. Regards.
Signature: Jannie du Plessis

Red Bugs
Red Bugs

Hi Jannie,
You have a group of immature Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae and one winged adult.  When we have more time, we will attempt a species identification for you, but meanwhile, you can browse iSpot for the correct identification.  We believe these are Cotton Stainers.

 

Letter 12 – Mating Kapok Bugs from Viet Nam

 

Subject: Fire Bug
Location: VUng Tau, VIetnam
January 6, 2013 7:10 am
Dear Bugpersonnel,
Is this a firebug, a cotton stainer or a red? It was found in Vung Tau, Vietnam feeding and mating on some rather large red seed pods with large black bean-like seeds inside of them. One strange thing is that the bugs are the exact same color as the seed pods. I’ve searched the Internet and have found similar bugs which are called fire bugs. However, there are some important differences. These bugs have completely red legs and the markings are unique. I attached 2 adult matings and 1 juvenile.
Signature: William Allen

Mating Kapok Bugs

Hi William,
The family Pyrrhocoridae is commonly called the Red Bug family, and the family includes the Cotton Stainers as well as the Firebugs, so Red Bugs is the more general family name that includes the other genera and species.  With that said, we are having difficulty identifying your Red Bugs to the species level.  We found some family members that are found in Viet Nam, but any with these exact markings are eluding us. 
Dindymus rubiginosus which we found on Bugs for Amateurs as well as FlickR lacks the spots.  Pyrrhopeplus posthumus which we located on BiotaTaiwanica is a close match.  The drawing of the wing pattern for Dysdercus cingulatus which we found on http://psybugs.biota.biodiv.tw/book/export/html/385 is pretty accurate, but once we found a photo of the insect on Forestry Images, the spots seem too high on the wings and the black triangular scutellum is missing on your specimens.  Project Noah did not provide us with anything conclusive.  After spending some time trying in vain to provide a species identification, we have decided to post you images and we hope one of our readers might be able to assist.  We feel confident that you can use the general term Red Bug to describe your individuals which are in the family Pyrrhocoridae.

Kapok Bug Nymph

Update:  September 27, 2015
We just received a comment today pointing us to a link to Farangs Gone Wild and the Kapok Bug, Probergrothius nigricornis, which appears to be the proper identification for these Red Bugs.  Siam Insect Zoo & Museum also has images of the Kapok Bug that match.

Letter 13 – Immature Red Bug from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Guanacaste costa rica
Location: Nosara, guanacaste, costa rica
April 26, 2016 4:10 pm
This bug was rolling what looked like a small ball of dirt or dung very efficiently- almost dribbling it like a soccer ball.
Many of them were huddled in clusters. It was the afternoon on a dirt road.
Signature: Cilan

Immature Red Bug
Immature Red Bug

Dear Cilan,
This is an immature Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and it looks like this image posted to FlickR.  We suspect the ball is actually a seed and the Red Bug is feeding from the seed.  Like other insects in the order Hemiptera, the mouth is designed for piercing and sucking.

Letter 14 – Mediterranean Red Bug

 

Subject: Small beetle
Location: Aliso Viejo, California, USA
May 7, 2015 9:25 pm
This bug walked across our patio during the day, on a breezy spring day in Southern California. The bug is approximately 1/2 centimeter in length.
Signature: Lori

Thank you for your help! I believe this bug is a Mediterranean Red Bug. Is that correct?

Mediterranean Red Bug
Mediterranean Red Bug

Hi Lori,
We agree with you that this is a Mediterranean Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, a recently introduced Invasive Exotic species.

Thank you, Daniel!
Warmly,
Lori

Letter 15 – Mediterranean Red Bug

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: San Fernando Valley, CA
August 19, 2016 9:23 am
Dear Mr. Bugman,
I found a lot of this bugs in on the wall coming up from the ground in my backyard. I normally do not see them. What is it?
Signature: Ken

Mediterranean Red Bug
Mediterranean Red Bug

Dear Ken,
The Mediterranean Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, is an invasive species that was accidentally introduced into Southern California recently.  We first found an individual in our Mount Washington, Los Angeles office grounds two years ago, but luckily we have not found another.  According to BugGuide:  “native to the Mediterranean, adventive in NA (first found 2009); established in so. CA.”  According to the Center for Invasive Species Research:  “Recently, another brightly colored, mostly seed feeding bug belonging to the family Pyrrhocoridae or ‘Red Bugs’ has become established in southern California and is drawing attention due to large aggregations of the bright red and black nymphs and adults feeding on annual broadleaf weeds in open space areas.  Scantius aegyptius, an old world pyrrhocorid bug, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, was documented for the first time in North America in Orange County during June of 2009.  Reports of this insect from other southern California locations (i.e., Riverside County) suggest that this insect has been established for a year or more prior to these Orange County collections.”  The site also states:  “Damage: The literature contains very little information regarding the biology of S. aegyptius and Scantius species in general are not considered to be economically important species.  In California, Scantius has been observed feeding on the developing seeds and stems of Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora).  It is likely that S. aegyptius will feed on the seeds of several species of annual herbaceous plants.  The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.”

Letter 16 – Bug of the Month January 2015: Mediterranean Red Bug

 

Subject: ID Bug. please?
Location: Ventura County, CA
December 28, 2014 11:14 am
Hello. Happy New Year.
Can you ID this bug for us. They seem to be increasingly multiplying on our property in the
north end of the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. We grow some organic
fruits and want to make sure they are not a plant eating insect, or what we would have to do
in an organic way to handle them.
Thank you.
Clay
Signature: email

Mediterranean Red Bug
Mediterranean Red Bug

Dear Clay,
Though it is lacking an recognized common name on BugGuide, we have been calling the invasive exotic species
 Scantius aegyptius by the descriptive name Mediterranean Red Bug based on its site or origin and its common family name.  According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside:  “Recently, another brightly colored, mostly seed feeding bug belonging to the family Pyrrhocoridae or “Red Bugs” has become established in southern California and is drawing attention due to large aggregations of the bright red and black nymphs and adults feeding on annual broadleaf weeds in open space areas.  Scantius aegyptius, an old world pyrrhocorid bug, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, was documented for the first time in North America in Orange County during June of 2009.  Reports of this insect from other southern California locations (i.e., Riverside County) suggest that this insect has been established for a year or more prior to these Orange County collections.”  We suspect sightings of this Mediterranean Red Bug will be increasing in Southern California this winter, which makes your submission a very appropriate Bug of the Month for January 2015.

Letter 17 – Red Cotton Stainers in the Philippines

 

Subject:  Can you please ID this assasin bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Antipolo Philippines
Date: 11/09/2017
Time: 06:02 AM EDT
Hi Bugman!
Can you please identify what species of Assasin bug these guys are. I caught them on one of my Okra plants and they are adorable.
How you want your letter signed:  Mohammad Mehdi Saatchi

Red Cotton Stainer

Dear Mohammad,
Though it resembles an Assassin Bug and though it is classified in the same order as Assassin Bugs, this Red Cotton Stainer is actually a member of the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae.  We verified your Red Cotton Stainer’s identity as
Dysdercus cingulatus thanks to Project Noah.

Red Cotton Stainers

Letter 18 – St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer aggregation

 

Red Insect with ‘shield’ markings
December 7, 2009
I saw these insects while on holiday. They stood out due to their impressive markings. I’d really like to know what they are.
Russell Brown
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

Aggregation of St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers
Aggregation of St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers

Dear Russell,
These are Cotton Stainers, most likely St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus andreae.  According to BugGuide, they are native to the West Indies.  They are often found in large aggregations like this with winged adults and wingless nymphs.  BugGuide also indicates:  “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.” – University of Florida.

Letter 19 – Mating Red Banded Seed Eating Bugs from Australia

 

Subject:  This had just appeared in our garden 2 weeks ago
Geographic location of the bug:  Wangaratta, north east Victoria
Date: 10/19/2019
Time: 09:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Thank you for your site. This bug appeared about 2 weeks ago and has the number has quickly increased since then.
How you want your letter signed:  Michael

Mating Red Banded Seed Eating Bugs

Dear Michael,
We were having trouble identifying your Seed Bugs from the family Lygaeidae, but we did locate a posting in our archives of a Red Banded Seed Eating Bug,
Melanerythrus mactans, from almost ten years ago.  Here is a FlickR image.  According to the Atlas of Living Australia, its range is over most of the continent.

Mating Red Banded Seed Eating Bugs

Letter 20 – Mediterranean Red Bug Aggregation in Southern California

 

Subject: Is this an elm seed bug? Found in Southern CA
Location: N Los Angeles County, Southern California
December 14, 2014 5:26 pm
Hi! I’ve been trying so hard to identify this bug, which just appeared in my back yard this year, maybe early summertime. I’m in north Los Angeles County (town is Littlerock), Southern CA. They’ve gone from lumbering in sort-of lines along the ground to huddling in large numbers around bushes and under wood or metal, to now huddling en masse in the crevices of one of my large chinese elm trees. I took pictures; they are black and red, similar it looks like in shape etc. to your photos of the elm seed bug, but the markings on my bugs seem a bit different. I have various birds living out back (goose, emu, peahen, guinea hen, and occasionally chickens) and am wondering if these bugs are beneficial to my plants and/or birds, or if they are harmful. So far they’re not in the house, but I’m a little worried that might change! I’d appreciate any help you can give me on identifying these cute little huddlers — hopefully they are the good kind! ( I have several more pictures, by the way – your site only allowed me 3 so I tried to pick out the best 3)
Signature: Heidi Brooks

Mediterranean Red Bug
Mediterranean Red Bug

Dear Heidi,
These are Mediterranean Red Bugs,
Scantius aegyptius, a species that was introduced to Southern California several years ago in about 2009 and it finds our climate to its liking, so it is proliferating.  Here is what the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research states:  “Damage: The literature contains very little information regarding the biology of S. aegyptius and Scantius species in general are not considered to be economically important species.  In California, Scantius has been observed feeding on the developing seeds and stems of Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora).  It is likely that S. aegyptius will feed on the seeds of several species of annual herbaceous plants.
The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.”  Though they pose no immediate threat to crops, native plants or animals, the presence of a non-native species in large numbers can have significant effects on native species by displacing them in an ecosystem.

Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs
Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond!  I got your email this morning, plus responses on Facebook after I asked about these insects there as well.  I have a British friend who lives in Germany and encounters these red “fire bugs” often in his walks through the woods.  He sent me this link, where I learned more interesting info about them, and I’d like to pass it on to you.  It’s a German site translated into English (thanks, Google), and while parts of the translation are a bit amusing, I did learn more about these little huddle-bugs:
https://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.schaedlingskunde.de%2FSteckbriefe%2Fhtm_Seiten%2FFeuerwanze-Pyrrhocoris-apterus.htm&edit-text&act=url
My friend also said that he notices wasps hang around the red bugs, so not sure if they are tasty to the wasps (or vice-versa).
Thanks again!
Cheers,
Heidi Brooks

Dear Heidi,
The link you provided is for a Firebug, a different species in the same family.  Again, your species is Scantius aegyptius and you can find more information on BugGuide.  When we first posted images of the Mediterranean Red Bug in 2010, we also incorrectly identified it as a very similar looking Firebug.

Wow!  I didn’t notice that – the markings are so specific, with a triangle and 2 dots, I thought they were the same bug.  I’ll have to do a little more research then, I think.  It’s been difficult to find much about these insects, but at least I know that they don’t seem harmful to my plants or people.  Thanks again — your responses mean a lot to me!
Cheers,
Heidi

Letter 21 – Cotton Stainer

 

Dear sir,
This insect is very colourful. Thought this might add to the awesome collection u have. would you pls identify it?
Regards
Ibrahim TMC

Cotton Stainer

Hi Again Ibrahim,
This is a Cotton Stainer,
Dysdercus cingulatus, and here is a marvelous old illustration from a book on insects from India.  There is a nice photo of a mating pair of Red Cotton Bugs on the Forestry Images website.  The species, a member of the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae, is also represented on several postage stamps on this website, including this beautiful 2007 stamp from Malaysia.  Then we found the photo of the stamp block on this blog.

Malaysian Stamp Block

True confessions
When we originally decided to post a stamp, because we love beautiful stamps, we thought this stamp represented the correct species.    Cysdercus cingulatus
was not the insect represented on it, but rather a member of the same genus.  The markings are a bit different, most noticeably the black triangular scutellum that is evident on your insect.  This gorgeous stamp originated in the British Indian Ocean Territory in 1976.

 

Letter 22 – Cotton Stainers from Antigua

 

Bugs of the caribean Island Antigua
Hallo,
these bugs i found on the carribean Island Antigua. I think it belongs to the Pyrrhocoridae.
Christian

Hi again Christian,
We agree with you that these true bugs are in the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae.

Update:  January 22, 2017
St Andrew’s Cross Cotton StainersThanks to a comment, we are confident that these are , a species we have identified on our site numerous times since this posting.

Letter 23 – Red Bugs from India: Probergrothius sanguinolens

 

Subject: Identify the bug
Location: Hyderabad (A.P) INDIA
March 26, 2013 2:51 am
Hello Sir, Pls identify the bug… And give me the classification also.
Thank u sir.
Signature: 919949863709

Red Bugs
Red Bugs

Dear 919949863709,
How sad that in India you have been dehumanized into a 12 digit number for identification purposes.  Our own American nine digit identification numbers are also used for identity purposes, but to avoid identity thieves, we do not freely publish that information.  These are Red Bugs in the family
Pyrrhocoridae.  We found a link on India Nature Watch that identifies it as a Stainer Bug, but no species name.

 

 

Letter 24 – Probably Red Bug from Malaysia

 

Subject: species of the bug
Location: West Malaysia
February 13, 2015 12:26 pm
Hello, I would be very thankful if anyone could tell me what is this bug, I found this red bug with a small red head and colorful yellow and black dots on the back next to my door (West Malaysia).
Signature: thank you

Red Bug
Red Bug

It is appropriate to refer to this insect as a Red Bug because it is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera and because it is red, and we believe it is also a member of the family Pyrrhocoridae, commonly called the Red Bugs.  This matching image on FlickR is in agreement with our supposition.  At this time, we cannot provide a more specific identification.

Red Bug
Red Bug

Letter 25 – St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers from Turks and Caicos

 

Subject: Pretty Turk’s and Caicos Insect
Location: Turks and Caicos
December 1, 2015 7:52 am
Good day!
Can you tell me what this insect is? We found them in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Is it a Turk’s Red Cap?
Cheers,
Signature: Levi

St. Andrews Cotton Stainers
St. Andrews Cotton Stainers

Dear Levi,
Though many islands have endemic species, we believe your Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae are St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus andreae, a species reported from West Indies according to BugGuide.  Many insects in the family are known to form large aggregations of both adults and nymphs as pictured in your image.  Adults have wings and nymphs do not.  Turk’s Red Cap may be a local name, but when we researched that all we found were numerous references to a plant in the genus Malvaviscus as pictured on Almost Eden.

Wow, thank you so much for the help!

Letter 26 – Immature Red Bug from Togo

 

Subject:  Fun red bug of Togo
Geographic location of the bug:  Sokodé, Togo
Date: 04/22/2018
Time: 10:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this red bug in Togo which fascinates me.  Can you identify it, please?
How you want your letter signed:  Jerry Day

Immature Red Bug

Dear Jerry,
Your image is really great, but we are not going to be able to provide you more than a very general identification.  This is an immature Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and we suspect it is probably a Cotton Stainer in the genus
Dysdercus.

Letter 27 – Two Spotted Cotton Stainers from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Red bugs
Location: Sardinal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
January 21, 2014 12:52 pm
I’ve been trying to find the right name of this species. I found out that they are red bugs in different stages but what about the second picture with the pale ones? Are they adult of the same species? Thanks in advance.
Signature: Brigitte

Two Spotted Cotton Stainer
Two Spotted Cotton Stainers

Dear Brigitte,
We are very happy you provided two images because only one of the images includes winged adults and immature nymphs can be notoriously difficult to identify to the species level.  You actually correctly identified these Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  Bugs in this family frequently form aggregations like the one you documented.  We did a bit of searching, and we have matched the adult individuals in your photo to the Two Spotted Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus bimaculatus, pictured on BugGuide.

Aggregation of Two Spotted Cotton Stainer nymphs
Aggregation of Two Spotted Cotton Stainer nymphs

Thanks, I really appreciate your help.  I’m a bird photographer and I practically know nothing about bugs.
Brigitte

 

Letter 28 – Predatory, Cannibalistic Red Bug from India: Antilochus conqueberti

 

Red Beetle Bug
Location: Dandeli, North Karnataka, India
July 1, 2011 3:15 am
Dear Bugman,
Can you identify the Bug and the prey in this picture. The Picture was shot at Dandeli Forest, in North Karnataka, India.
Signature: Bhavesh Shah

Predatory, CannibalisticRed Bug

Dear Bhavesh,
In our opinion, the predator and prey look like the same species, or at least closely related species.  We cannot even be certain that this is an instance of predation, because some normally plant feeding True Bugs can be opportunistic, and they will feed upon the fluids of the dead bodies of insects without actually preying upon them.  We will need to do additional research to try to determine the identity of this Bug.  There is a very similar looking insect identified as a Cotton Stainer that can be viewed by scrolling down this Rings of Silver website.  The Cotton Stainers pictured on this site also look similar, but with an additional black mark.

Update:  January 20, 2015
We just received a comment indicating that this is a predatory Red Bug
 Antilochus conqueberti, and we found images that match on this site.  The Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies has published a paper on this predatory Red Bug.

Letter 29 – Mating Cotton Stainers in South Africa

 

Subject: red bugs
Location: Gauteng, Kempton Park
May 18, 2016 4:50 am
Hi, we live in Kempton Park and have noticed on our pavement trees these red bugs. Can you please advise what they are and if they are problematic to surrounding areas. They are on the tree trunks and in the grass at the Base of the tree. Thank you.
Signature: Tracy

Cotton Stainers
Cotton Stainers

Dear Tracy,
Judging by the mating pair in the center of your image, there will soon be even more Red Bugs at the base of this tree.  They really are Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and thanks to iSpot, we have identified them as Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus fasciatus. Though they are aggregating on the trees, we do not believe they are damaging the trees.  They may be feeding on the seeds of the trees, like the individuals in this iSpot image.

Thank you for taking the time out to have a look like this.

Letter 30 – St Andrews Cotton Stainer from Dominican Republic

 

Subject: Plague of red flying insects
Location: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
March 14, 2016 7:15 pm
Help! I have a plague of these red beetley insects coming into my new apartment. There are about 30+ that have entered. They fly and they seem drawn to people. I live in the Dominican Republic in a new apartment building surrounded by sugarcane farms. It’s sugar cane harvest season right now and they’re burning a lot of the fields. Help! I need to know how to keep them out of my house!
Signature: Grace

St Andrews Cotton Stainer
St Andrews Cotton Stainer

Hi Grace,
This is a St Andrews Cotton Stainer,
Dysdercus andreae, and you can find out more information on American Insects where it states:  “In the West Indies this species develops on the seeds of the Portia tree (Thespesia populnea), a member of the mallow family that grows along the shoreline. The bugs can also develop on cotton, and in fact Dr. Harold Grau and his associates at Christopher Newport University have demonstrated that the species grows larger on cotton than on Thespesia populnea.”

Letter 31 – African Cotton Stainer from Botswana

 

Subject:  Red Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Botswana
Date: 03/28/2018
Time: 05:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi. I saw this interesting beetle (?) while on safari in the Savute region of Botswana in March, 2018. It is about 2cm long. Is it a variation of an assassin bug?
How you want your letter signed:  Hugh Scarth

African Cotton Stainer

Dear Hugh,
This is not a Beetle.  Taxonomically it is a True Bug in the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae, and we believe we properly identified it as an African Cotton Stainer,
Dysdercus fasciatus, on iNaturalist.

Terrific. Thank you for your reply. Hugh

Letter 32 – Aggregation of St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer

 

Love Bug
Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 6:22 PM
While visiting Andros Island, Bahamas, I snapped a photo of what my friend called “Love Bugs”. That must be a common name. What is their true name?
BMZ
Fresh Creek, Andros Island, Bahamas

St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers
St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers

Dear BMZ,
We have never heard of the St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainer, Dysdercus andreae , referred to as a Love Bug.  While there are some mating pairs in this large aggregation, procreation is not the primary reason many True Bugs, including the St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainer, form aggregations.  According to BugGuide, the species is found in Florida and the West Indies.

Letter 33 – Cotton Stainer

 

What’s that witchdoctor doing on the insect’s back?
Hi Bugman,
Please ID this weird insect that I shot in our garden.I stay in Palm Meadows
http://www.adarshdevelopers.com/projects/palmmeadows/palm_location.html in Bangalore.
Thanks,
Shastri



Hi Shastri,
We checked with Eric Eaton who identified this insect as a member of the Cotton Stainer Family Pyrrhocoridae which are common in the tropics and the South. One species, Dysdercus suturellus is very injurious to cotton by piercing the stems and bolls with its beak and sucking the sap. The greatest damage is done by staining the cotton with its excrement.

Letter 34 – Cotton Stainer

 

A bug with white cross on maroon colored back, with black and white strips on the bottom.
Hi,
I found this bug which I have never seen before in my house. I wonder if it has anything to do with my son’s fever. He is only 4yrs old and running a fever of 102.92 Fahrenheit. Could you please identify for me if it is dangerous or poisonous? Thanks!
Brgds
Christine

Hi Christine,
The Cotton Stainer is not responsible for your son’s fever.

Letter 35 – Cotton Stainer

 

WTB?
What kind of bug is this? Some sort long horn beetle? A friend has them in front of their house and has been wanting to know what it is
meemee

Hi MeeMee,
This is a very nice photo of a Cotton Stainer, Dysdercus suturellus. Cotton Stainers are Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae.

Letter 36 – Cotton Stainer Aggregation

 

Bug Stuff
I’ve told so many people about WTB……really a great site…I keep meaning to find the photo I have of the red stainer? orgy I took in Puerto Rico. I felt a bit bad watching them, but then was strangely impressed by their group prowess! Here is the bug orgy photo from Puerto Rico I promised.
Dave

Hi Dave,
Your Cotton Stainer Bug photo is more correctly an aggregation, as there are adults and nymphs together. Bugs are not pedophiles and do not mate with immature brethren.

perhaps aggregation is correct, but its not nearly as saucy as a bug orgy!….I guess nymphs are never sexually mature in the insecta? Interestingly, I give lots of talks around NJ about butterflies to various groups and I am often asked what sex caterpillars are. It took me a long time to find out that they actually have undeveloped sexual organs and that in some cases they can even be felt thru the skin….This is a perfect example of why I find the insects so damn exciting…no matter how much we know, individually or cumulatively, we just dont know anything at all, they are so darn diverse, there is just so much to learn….Dave

Letter 37 – Cotton Stainer Bug

 

Cotton Stainer Bugs?
Hi,
I am from Singapore and I found these bugs on the cotton plant. The nymphs at bright red without any markings. Please kindly help to identify. Thanks!
Best regards,
Yueat Tin

Hi Yueat Tin,
This sure does appear to be one of the species of insects known as Cotton Stainers. They are in the Red Bug Family Pyrrhocoridae.

Letter 38 – Whitecrossed Seed Bug

 

Subject: Pyrrhocoridae
Location: South San Francisco, CA
January 29, 2014 9:34 pm
I like to send flowers to my girlfriend (email photos), as I come across many nice landscapes while I’m in the field. Today these yellow daisies caught my eye, and the colorful insect made it all the more interesting. Thanks to your site, and the rest of the web, I believe this to be a type of cotton stainer in the Pyrrhocoridae Family.
The last few weeks have been unseasonably warm with almost no rain. We had a dry cold snap in December. Today was cloudy, cool and misty. Is this insect usually found in Northern California?
Signature: Teltec

Cotton Stainer
Whitecrossed Seed Bug

Dear Teltec,
We agree that this appears to be a Cotton Stainer in the genus
Dysdercus, and we have not been able to locate any information confirming them occurring in California.  According to BugGuide’s data, there are some species found in Arizona, including the Two Spotted Cotton Stainer, Dysdercus bimaculatus, but this is most definitely not that species.  The Texas Entomology page Checklist of North American Cotton Stainers does contain sightings in California.  With so much global travel, it is possible this was a recent introduction.

Correction  May 3, 2014:  Whitecrossed Seed Bug
Thanks to a comment from Scott Carroll, we have updated the posting to include the correction on this Whitecrossed Seed Bug, Neacoryphus bicrucis, which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 39 – Cotton Stainer from Cuba

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: Cuba
March 22, 2017 4:50 am
Please could you help me ID this beetle we found , whilst on holiday in Cuba
Thank you
Signature: Lynne Demaine

Cotton Stainer

Dear Lynne,
This is not a Beetle, but rather a True Bug.  This is a Cotton Stainer in the genus
Dysdercus, and we believe it is Dysdercus sanguinarius based on this En Advisor Travel site.

Dear Daniel
Many thanks  – that is brilliant and so quick too!
The fact it is not a beetle explains why my attempts to ID it failed miserably!
Best wishes
Lynne

Letter 40 – Cotton Stainer from Hong Kong

 

Subject: Hong Kong Beauty bug
Location: Stanley, Hong Kong
September 25, 2014 3:58 pm
Hi
Recently moved to HK, and found this in my Hibiscus yesterday, 24 Sept. It is the tail end of summer, about 33C. About 1 inch long. We are quite close to the beach, although this bug appeared on a plant that I recently purchased and moved here from Kowloon. I have had the plant about 3 weeks.
Would love to know what it is, and if I should remove it to another plant to spare my garden. (There is a nearby undeveloped, jungley lot for the bug to emigrate to.)
Thanks
Signature: Margaret

Cotton Stainer
Cotton Stainer

Dear Margaret,
This is a Cotton Stainer or Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae and we located a matching image on FlickR that is identified as 
Dysdercus cingulatus.  We then found a reference where it is called a Hong Kong Stink Bug and the information:  “Found mating and feeding on Ipomea on September 11, 2002 at Braemar Hill, North Point, and on Hibiscus.on August 10, 2003 at Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung, Hong Kong SAR.”  The latter link is not very accurate as the family is listed incorrectly.  It is also pictured on iNaturalist.

Cotton Stainer
Cotton Stainer

Letter 41 – Cotton Stainer from India

 

Subject: What type of Beetle
Location: Noida, U.P. India
December 10, 2016 8:35 pm
Hello,
Your site has been very helpful in most cases. Kindly assist in identifying the attached image of Beetle, it was tiny and slim.
Signature: Aditi

Cotton Stainer from India
Cotton Stainer from India

Dear Aditi,
The reason you have had trouble identifying this Cotton Stainer,
Dysdercus cingulatus, is because it is a True Bug in the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae, and not a beetle.  The Cotton Stainer is pictured on Biodiversity IndiaCurrent Biotica has a scholarly article that states:  “The red cotton bug, Dysdercus cingulatus Fab is an important pest damaging okra in India. Both adults and nymphs feed on developing fruits and affect the crop yield and quality of fruits.”  As an aside, we are fascinated that the city Noida is an anagram for India.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks so much,is it also called ‘Red Cotton Bug’ ?

That is correct.

Letter 42 – Cotton Stainers

 

Florida firebugs?
Hello,
I stumbled across your site while trying to find out what these little critters are called. I vaguely remember being told as a child that they are firebugs. The ones that look alike were all over the place being naughty. The smaller ones with less distinctive designs were just stumbling around. These were spotted under a shady tree on the side of a salt water canal in Miami Beach–around noon today. Thanks for the cool site!
Margaret

Hi Margaret,
Thanks for contributing a new species to our site. These are Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus andreae. They are True Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the Red Bugs. They are found in Florida and the West Indies. The common name comes from the fact that they would actually stain cotton while feeding, ruining the quality of the product.

Letter 43 – Cotton Stainers

 

Subject: red bugs
Location: Sarasota , Florida
December 28, 2013 9:35 am
I’m writing from Sarasota, Florida. In June my neighbour put out some leftover dog food after her little dog died. A few days later there were all this beautiful red and black bugs in various stages crawling around it. They didn’t it the dog food, they went away from it. Even crawling up a tree. What are they?
Signature: Ruth

Cotton Stainers
Cotton Stainers

Hi Ruth,
The True Bugs in the photo are immature, wingless Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus suturellus, and winged adults.  In addition to cotton, the Cotton Stainers will also feed on other plants including hibiscus and orange trees, according to bugGuide.  Cotton Stainers, like other True Bugs, have mouths designed to pierce and suck, and it is possible that they were attracted to the moisture in the pet food. 

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for this information.
Have a wonderful New Year!
Ruth

Letter 44 – Cotton Stainers

 

Subject:  Can you ID this beauty in Miami,FL ?
Location:  Miami Florida
Date:  December 16, 2017 12:26 PM
I could sent a picture of this lovely geometric designed red,black and white outlined elongated bug for identification ?
Signature:  Robin

Cotton Stainers

Dear Robin,
These Cotton Stainers sometimes form aggregations with both winged adults and immature nymphs as your image documents.

Letter 45 – Cotton Stainers

 

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

Letter 46 – Cotton Stainers from South Africa

 

Subject:  What bug is this
Geographic location of the bug:  Randburg
Date: 01/18/2019
Time: 02:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there
I have these bugs crawling on and around my front wall, including the electricity meter. Are they Soapberry or Cotton Stainer bugs, or something completely different? Are they hazardous to the garden or pets, and how best would you recommend getting rid of them, or preventing them? Thanks
How you want your letter signed:  Gareth, Randburg

Cotton Stainers

Dear Gareth,
Is Randburg in South Africa?  In our opinion, these are Cotton Stainers in the genus 
Dysdercus.  They might be Dysdercus nigrofasciatus which is pictured on FlickR, or possibly Dysdercus fasciatus which is pictured on Project Noah.  There are reported to be several similar looking species in South Africa.  We do not provide extermination advice.

Cotton Stainers

Letter 47 – Red Bug from India

 

Help with insect Id Dear Mr.Bugman,
I came across this bug in South India.Body about 1.5 cms in length.Any help in identification is appreciated. Regards,
Bishan.

Hi Brian,
This is a Hemipteran or True Bug in the order Hemiptera. It is probably in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the Red Bugs. Some members of this family are known as Stainers.

Letter 48 – Red Nymph from Borneo

 

Subject: Red insect from Sarawak, Borneo.
Location: Sarawak, Borneo
February 17, 2016 11:19 pm
Hey guys,
So I was wanting to find out what this insect was called. Spotted him in Mulu NP in Sarawak.
Cheers
Signature: Catherine

Immature True Bug
Immature True Bug

Dear Catherine,
This is an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera.  We will attempt to make a more specific identification, however immature nymphs can be difficult to identify.

Letter 49 – Redbugs

 

Hi Mr. Bugman,
I’ve just visited your website for the first time and thought that I’d submit a critter for identification.
I found these little red and black "beetle" looking critters on my Arbiacola plants out in the back yard in the shade. There were about 20 or so of them sort of hearded together. Later I went back and took this photo in hopes of identifying them. They’re poised on my Pentas that are near the Arbiacola plants and surrounded with ferns. These little bugs are about the size of the tip of my finger…not to big at all. I don’t believe them to be the typical "Lady Bug" though they do somewhat resemble them.
I really enjoyed my visit on your site….thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us "buggies" …you’ve got "buggies" instead of "groupies" 😉 I’m a musician.
Thanks,
Michelle

Dear Michelle,
They are not beetles, but True Bugs, Hemipterans. We couldn’t give you an exact identification, so I contacted Weiping at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. He wrote this reply: “Sorry to answer you late. The picture you attached should be immature Hemiptera. It is hard to identify the specimen in immature stage. Probably, you ask the sender to pay attention on the bugs. I am sure the adults should be coming soon.” I actually thought I might be able to give you something more concrete. There is a Family of True Bugs known as Red Bugs or Stainers, Pyrrhocoridae. They are described by Borror and Delong as “elongate oval bugs that are usually brightly marked with red and black. … They are phytophagous and gregarious.” In other words, they are ravenous plant pests. They are common in the South and it appears as though you are from Florida.

Letter 50 – Unknown Red True Bug from Borneo

 

Subject: Red insect from Borneo rainforest Sarawak
Location: Sarawak, Borneo
November 4, 2012 7:18 am
Hi,
I shot this gorgeous insect recently in Sarawak, but sadly have no idea what it is. I do hope that you can help. This was shot in secondary forest, though near to primary forest at the end of the dry season. It was during the day.
Signature: louise murray

True Bug

Hi Louise,
This is some species of True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but we cannot determine the family based on the angle of your photo.  We did find a matching photo, # 1566-1074713 on Superstock (scroll down), though we don’t trust the Boxelder Bug identification, though it might be in the same family Rhopalidae, the Plant Bugs.

Letter 51 – Giant Red Bug from India

 

Subject:  Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Assam, India
Date: 08/30/2017
Time: 06:11 AM EDT
Please identify the insect
How you want your letter signed:  Don’t know

Giant Red Bug

We believe we have correctly identified your insect as a female Giant Red Bug, Macrocheraia grandis, thanks to Insects in Indian Agroecosystems, and the site includes this nice image of a pair, with the female on the left.  According to Revolvy:  “The abdomen of the male is long and extends well beyond the wingtip.”  Jungle Dragon also has a nice image and iNaturalist only has images of male Giant Red Bugs, a phenomenon that is consistent on the internet.  Images of female Giant Red Bugs like the one you submitted are not as common.

Letter 52 – Probably Red Bugs or Bordered Plant Bugs from Singapore

 

Subject: Mating pair
Location: Singapore
May 18, 2014 3:01 am
Hi Daniel
I was wondering if you could help me with an ID for this mating pair. I found them in rainforest habitat on the trunk of a tree. They’d shuffle to the opposite side of the trunk when I approached them with my camera. They look like little mouse heads 🙂
Thanks,
Signature: David

Mating Big Eyed Bugs, we believe
Unknown Mating Bugs

Hi David,
Our first thought is that these might be mating Big Eyed Bugs in the family Geocoridae, based on images posted to BugGuide of North American species.
  We will try to get a second opinion.  Do you by chance have an image that shows the antennae?  That can often be a helpful identification feature.  If we are correct, this is a new subcategory for our site.

Eric Eaton provides some input
Oh, lord, I have no idea.  Maybe Rhopalidae for family?  That is at best an educated guess.  I really don’t do well outside of North America for most things.
Eric

Hi Daniel
I’ve attached another photo (and Flickr link) of the same pair but from a slightly different angle. You can see the antennae a bit better on the left bug. Let me know if this helps with your identification.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/davegball/14181986096/
David.

Or perhaps Mating Scentless Plant Bugs
Unknown Mating Bugs

Thanks David,
Eric Eaton suggested perhaps Scentless Plant Bugs in the family Rhopalidae.  Your Bugs are not represented on the Bugs & Insects of Singapore website, nor did we find them on ThaiBugs.

Thank you Daniel.
By the way you might want to bookmark this site below. It has IDs for a lot of South East Asia insects that you might encounter from whatsthatbug.com subscribers.
http://www.natureloveyou.sg/Minibeast.html

Letter 53 – Red Cotton Bug nymph

 

Subject:  Greetings from Nepal
Location:  Chitwan National Park, Nepal
January 23, 2014 7:39 pm
Bugman, my daughter Kryss Castle and I are at Machan Paradise Resort
in Chitwan National Park. Today on an early morning jungle walk we found a Red Cotton Bug. By the way, we also saw a one-horned Rhino just 30 feet away. But we know where your heart lies!
Allison Jones

Red Cotton Bug
Red Cotton Bug nymph

Dear Allison,
Thanks so much for submitting your lovely photograph.  We researched Red Cotton Bug and discovered a photo on the Marc Anderson PHotography site, further identified as
 Dysdercus cingulatus, that was also taken in Chitwan National Park, Nepal, but we don’t believe that identification is entirely correct based on the images also identified as Dysdercus cingulatus on Csiro.  We do believe your bug is also in the Red Bug or Stainer Family Pyrrhocoridae along with Dysdercus cingulatus, which is substantiated by the photo of your bug entitled “Infested” by Joe Hastings on FlickR.  Continued research led us to a Red Cotton Bug on FlickR identified as Dysdercus koenigii, also from Chitwan National Park, Nepal and posted by Patrick.  We found additional examples of Dysdercus koenigii on PBase and called a Red Cotton Bug or a Silk Cotton Bug.  The Krishisewa Agriculture Information Hub of okra pests pictures an adult and nymph Red Cotton Bug, Dysdercus koenigii, and indicates:  “Life-history: The eggs are laid in clusters of 80-100 in cracks of the soil or dry leaves near the plants. The nymphs hatch out in about 7 days and become adults in 40-85 days.  The red coloured nymphs are marked by a row of 3 black spots in the middle of the abdomen and 3 white spots on either margin of it.  Damage: Both nymphs and adults suck the leaf and fruit sap. The plants become weak and stunted, the leaves and fruits may curl up.”  The black head on your individual does not appear on the nymph pictured on Krishisewa.  Project Noah calls a similar looking bug the Cotton Stainer Bug,  Dysdercus koenigii.

Letter 54 – Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs

 

Subject: Help with bug ID
Location: San Diego county
November 4, 2014 7:28 am
Hi, I was wondering if you could help me ID these guys. I’m in San Diego county. They have been around for a couple of months but are starting to clump up like this now. They don’t seem to eat any plants that I care about, so I’m just curious.
Thanks!
Signature: Iris

Mediterranean Red Bug Aggregation
Mediterranean Red Bug Aggregation

Hi Iris,
This is an exotic, invasive, Mediterranean Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, aggregation.  According to The Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside:  “The literature contains very little information regarding the biology of S. aegyptius and Scantius species in general are not considered to be economically important species.  In California, Scantius has been observed feeding on the developing seeds and stems of Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora).  It is likely that S. aegyptius will feed on the seeds of several species of annual herbaceous plants.  The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.”

Mediterranean Red Bug Aggregation
Mediterranean Red Bug Aggregation

Great to know. Thanks so much for your help. They haven’t caused any trouble, unlike the dreaded Bagrada bug that has been gobbling up all my crops.
Have a good night.
Iris

Those African Painted Bugs, Bagrada hilaris, are a big problem to California crops.

I have been covering all my fall brassicas with row cover and burying the edges completely with dirt to seal the tunnels. This seems to work to keep the Bagrada bugs away until the weather gets cold. A lot more work, but without doing that they devour everything.
Thanks again for your help. Glad the Mediterranean Red Bug isn’t interested in eating my crops too.
Iris

Letter 55 – Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs

 

Subject:  Cluster of Bugs
Geographic location of the bug:  San Pedro, CA
Date: 09/13/2017
Time: 01:30 AM EDT
I was walking my dog on a path by the ocean and noticed a large isolated collection of bright red bugs I don’t recall ever seeing in my life despite living in this general area all my life.
How you want your letter signed:  curious dog walker

Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs

Dear curious dog walker,
These are Mediterranean Red Bugs, an invasive species that was recently introduced to Southern California.  They generally get noticed when they form large aggregations of both adult and immature individuals.

Aggregation of Mediterranean Red Bugs

Letter 56 – Aggregation of Red Bug Nymphs in Mexico

 

Subject: Red bug aggregation
Location: Lake Chapala, Mexico
November 8, 2014 10:12 am
I was hiking in the Sierra Travesaño north of Lake Chapala last spring. It was near the end of the dry season and there were many individuals and small aggregations of these red bugs along the trail (oak forest at about 6,000 ft). Do you know what they are?
Signature: J. Cross

Immature Red Bug Aggregation
Immature Red Bug Aggregation

Dear J. Cross,
We are not certain if you called these Red Bugs because of the color or if you actually realized that they are in the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae.  They appear to be immature nymphs, and immature specimens can be very difficult to identify conclusively.

Thanks for your quick reply. They looked a bit like aggregations of boxelder and red shoulder bugs from back East, but enough different that I wasn’t certain. I was pretty sure they were hemipterans, but I didn’t know there was a Red Bug family.

Letter 57 – Immature Red Bug from Mozambique

 

Subject: What is this thing?
Location: Mozambique
July 7, 2016 9:42 pm
Big man,
I was in Mozambique Africa June 10-15 this year and saw this bug. It was about 1/2 an inch long maybe more. We were driving from Tofo to Beliene and stopped on the side of the road. I thought it looked interesting and took a picture. Do you know what it might be?
Signature: – Liz

Red Bug nymph
Red Bug nymph

Dear Liz,
Our suspicion that this is an immature Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae was confirmed when we located this matching image on iNaturalist, but alas, it is not identified to the species level.

Letter 58 – Mating Pale Red Bugs from Panama

 

Leaf Footed Bugs
Pale Red Bugs Mating

Subject: Panamese bugs
Location: Bastimentos, Panama
October 13, 2014 6:10 am
These two bugs were photographed in Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro province, Panama in february 2012.
Are they Disdercus species or do they belong to another Pyrrhocoridae genus or maybe Hypselonotus?
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Signature: David

Leaf Footed Bugs
Mating Pale Red Bugs

Hi David,
Several years ago, we mistakenly identified
Hypselonotus atratus as a Cotton Stainer, but in your case, we believe you really do have a Cotton Stainer or Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  It looks very much like Dysdercus concinnus, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, the Pale Red Bug ranges as far south as South America.

Letter 59 – Mediterranean Red Bug found in Mount Washington

 

Found scuttling across the back patio.
September 20, 2014

We identified this Red Bug on BugGuide as Scantius aegyptius.  We will attempt to capture an image tomorrow.

Red Bug
Red Bug

Letter 60 – Pale Red Bug

 

Costa Rican beetle?
March 28, 2010
I found this bug in Costa Rica, although it was in a park that mirrors the various ecosystems in Costa Rica, so the exact location won’t be much help.
Jenny
Costa Rica, San Jose, InBioParque

Pale Red Bug

Hi Again Jenny,
Thank you so much for sending your identification requests individually.  It makes it much easier for us to post responses and archive postings that way.  This is not a beetle.  This is a Pale Red Bug or Turk’s Cap Red Bug, Dysdercus concinnus.  It is one of the Cotton Stainers.  According to BugGuide:  “Range Rio Grande Valley, Texas south to Columbia per Distant (1880-1893).  Food Mallows, often on Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)

Letter 61 – Pale Red Bugs Mating

 

Id help needed – pretty bugs!
November 21, 2009
I photographed these bugs on butterfly holiday in the USA in Nov 2006. There were seen at the Westlaco Valley Nature reserve in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. As I live in England I don’t have any suitable field guides and wondered if someone can Id these for me.
Maris UK
LRGV Texas

Pale Red Bugs Mating
Pale Red Bugs Mating

Hi Maris,
This is a new species for our website, but we quickly identified your mating Pale Red Bugs or Turk’s Cap Bugs, Dysdercus concinnus, on BugGuide.  The Rio Grande Valley in Texas is the northernmost reach of the range of the species which is found in Central America south to Columbia.

Letter 62 – Red Bug

 

red bug taking over my yard
October 10, 2009
This bug is invading my yard. They are multipiling like crazy. So far they are just eating weeds. But what happens when they run out. I have chickens they wont eat them, and for that reason Idont want to use poisons. I believe this is a new bug to this area and I think its going to take over.
Kim
Perris,Ca

Red Bug Aggregation
Red Bug Aggregation

Hi Kim,
Interestingly, these really are Red Bugs.  The species, Scantius aegyptius, is not native, and according to BugGuide, has only been reported from California.  It does not have a common name, but is in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the Red Bugs.  The UC Riverside Website lists its origin as the Mediterranean.  The UC Riverside Website states:  “Scantius aegyptius, an old world pyrrhocorid bug, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, was documented for the first time in North America in Orange County during June of 2009.  Reports of this insect from other southern California locations (i.e., Riverside County) suggest that this insect has been established for a year or more prior to these Orange County collections.
”  The website also indicates:  “Damage: The literature contains very little information regarding the biology of S. aegyptius and Scantius species in general are not considered to be economically important species.  In California, Scantius has been observed feeding on the developing seeds and stems of Knotweed (Polygonum spp.) and Malva (Malva parviflora).  It is likely that S. aegyptius will feed on the seeds of several species of annual herbaceous plants.  The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas.  These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.

Red Bugs
Red Bugs

Letter 63 – Red Bug from India

 

Subject: I need help identifying this bug
Location: Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh, north india
September 29, 2016 5:58 am
Hi bugman, I came across this tiny during my travels in north India. Could you please help me identify it? Thank you!!
Signature: With love

Red Bug
Red Bug

Though it is pale in color, we believe this is a Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae.  Here is a similar looking individual from TrekNature.

Letter 64 – Red Bug: Introduced species in California

 

Subject: Red bug on concrete
Location: Southern California
July 10, 2013 1:11 pm
What insect is this? I live in Southern Ca and its on my concrete.
Signature: Lisa

Red Bug
Red Bug

Hi Lisa,
This really is a Red Bug,
Scantius aegyptius, a nonnative species originally reported in California in 2009.  They seem to be spreading in the state.

Letter 65 – Cotton Stainer from South Africa is Welwitschia Bug

 

Subject: South African Bug
Location: Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
March 7, 2013 12:24 am
Dear Bugman,
We spotted this bug while on a walking safari in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe last September. The first image I’m uploading to you is the photo we took of the bug. Using Google Images, I found the second image which shows a mating pair of the bugs and was taken at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Many thanks!
Signature: Eric

True Bug
Welwitschia Bug

Dear Eric,
Thank you for letting us know that only one of the photos was taken by you since we cannot post the other due to copyright infringement.  Alas, we have already spent our allotted time updating the site this morning and we cannot do the research to try to identify your True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but we will do further research later.  In the meantime, perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a species identification while we are off teaching and otherwise furthering the education of others.

Thank you, Daniel.  It is helpful to know that the insect we photographed belongs to the suborder Heteroptera rather than the order Coleoptera.  That helps to narrow my search which I will continue while waiting to hear more from you.
Eric

Update:  March 9, 2013
Thanks to Cesar Crash because he pointed out that we already have an example in our archives of this Cotton Stainer,
Odontopus sexpunctatus, which is commonly called the Welwitschia Bug according to Andy Cowley.

Letter 66 – Immature Cotton Stainers from India

 

Are these insects Beetles ?
January 3, 2010
I spotted these insects jointly gathered in
a backside of a small plant leaf.
Hari Iyer
Thane, Maharashtra, India

Unknown Immature True Bugs from India
Unknown Immature True Bugs from India

Dear Hari Iyer,
These are not beetles, but rather True Bugs in the order Hemiptera.  They are immature specimens that will become winged adults.  We are not certain of the species.

Update and Correction from Eric Eaton
January 9, 2010
Daniel:
The unknown immature true bugs from India are nymphs of “cotton stainers” in the genus Dysdercus, family Pyrrhocoridae.  Nice pictures.
Eric

Letter 67 – Red Bug from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Bug/Beetle from Costa Rica
Location: Central Costa Rica
January 13, 2014 8:37 pm
Dear Bugman,
can you ID this red-headed guy I photographed at night in Costa Rica? Thank you very much again!
Signature: Frank

Unknown Red Headed Bug
Unknown Red Headed Bug

Hi Frank,
Our initial attempts to identify this red headed True Bug did not prove successful, but it does remind us of a red headed Coreid Bug,
Hypselonotus atratus, that we just posted.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with this one.

Karl Provides an identification
Hi Daniel and Frank:
Coreid bugs nearly always have prominent ocelli, the simple eyes on the top of the head, and much denser wing venation. This is actually a Cotton Stainer or Red Bug (Pyrrhocoridae: Pyrrhocorinae), probably Dysdercus obscuratus. The species has a very wide distribution (Texas to Peru) and is highly variable in appearance. Here is one more image posted on flickr.  Regards.  Karl

Thank you so much, Daniel! Please forward my thanks to Karl, if you have the time.
Best
Frank

just warning you Frank:  I will be away for a week and not posting.  Please don’t resume sending photos until January 22.  Your photos are quite beautiful.
Daniel

Thanks for the warning, Daniel! Have a good trip and you can count on getting more pictures from me after Jan. 22nd. You and your site are quite amazing!
Best
Frank

January 21, 2014
bring them on.

Letter 68 – Cotton Stainers from Namibia

 

Shield bugs
Location: Namibia, Southern Africa
November 20, 2011 2:29 pm
Can you please help identify these shield bugs. They are on the seed cone of Welwitschia mirabilis. The picture was taken at10.50a.m. on 19th April 2011 by the C39 roadside west of Khorixas in Namibia.April was unusually wet in Namibia.
Signature: Roger Pinkney.

Cotton Stainers

Hi Roger,
We aren’t entirely convinced that these True Bugs are Shield Bugs.  They may be in another Hemipteran family.  We will try to determine their identity.

Hi Daniel and Roger:
These are Cotton Stainers (Pyrrhocoridae); specifically Odontopus sexpunctatus, the Welwitschia Bug. Regards.  Karl

Thanks Karl.  They aren’t very red for being a Red Bug.

Letter 69 – Mating Welwitschia Bugs from Namibia

 

Subject:  Unknown bug in Africa, Namibia
Geographic location of the bug:  Impalila Island, Namibia  Coordinates: -17.7747615 25.1709266
Date: 09/06/2018
Time: 07:44 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you identify this insect.  I have searched for many hours and could not find a match on the web.   See the photo.
It was photographed at this location: https://www.google.com/maps/place/17°46’29.1″S+25°10’15.3″E/@-17.7745962,25.1703406,19z/
How you want your letter signed:  Robert Zinn

Welwitschia Bugs Mating

Dear Robert,
These are mating Red Bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae and we identified them as Welwitschia Bugs,
Probergrothius angolensis, thanks to FlickR Hiveminer and Stanford EDU.  The species is also pictured on iNaturalist.

Daniel,
It appears that this bug should really identified as Probergrothius sexpunctatus on your website.  It is commonly misidentified as Probergrothius angolensis.
I base this on the content of the Naturalist site link you provided and the Similar Species tab on that page.  You may want to correct your website entry.
Thank you for your time in identifying the bug.
-Robert Zinn

Thanks for catching that Robert.  We will also link to the iNaturalist page.  We try our best to be as accurate as possible, and with DNA analysis becoming the latest tool for scientists to use in separating species, many changes are occurring in taxonomic classification.  We have no entomological background, so many postings on our site likely contain identification errors.  At least we had the genus correct and we were able to steer you in the direction of the identification you requested.

Letter 70 – Unknown Predatory Red Hemipteran Nymphs feeding on Imbrasia wahlbergi Caterpillar in South Africa

 

Unidentified predatory red bug/beetle
Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 3:29 AM
This bug (beetle?) appeared about five years ago in our rural, coastal area (Cintsa, East London, South Africa) and has been terrorizing the undergrowth ever since. Individuals patrol paths and garden areas, seeking prey. Groups participate in the kill, biting or stinging the victim repeatedly until it stops moving. They will then sit on the prey, presumably feeding, sometimes for the rest of the day. They have been observed attacking and feeding on centipedes, spiders and caterpillars (particularly the large black caterpillars that feed on African plum trees – see image).
They are red/orange with darker areas around where wings should be. They appear to have a pointed snout. We have observed them clustering under cover in larger groups overnight.
Dave Roberts
Cintsa, East London, South Africa

Unknown Predatory Hemipteran Nymph
Unknown Predatory Hemipteran Nymph

Hi Dave,
You just made us late for work. We really wanted to identify your predatory red Hemipteran nymphs as well as the Saturniid Caterpillar they are feeding upon, but our internet connection is so slow right now, we need more time. We are posting this as unidentified right now, but we are confident we will be able to assist you in a proper identification either alone or with the assistance of our readership. The Hemipterans don’t look like Assassin Bugs, which would be a likely candidate.

Predatory Hemipterans feed on Saturniid Caterpillar
Predatory Hemipterans feed on Saturniid Caterpillar

Update:Predatory Red Hemipteran Nymphs feeding on Unknown Saturniid Caterpillar
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM
Hi Daniel:
I think the predatory bugs are probably immature assassin bugs of some kind, but I am out on a limb even with that. The Saturniid caterpillar looks like Imbrasia wahlbergi . An adult of this spectacular species appeared on WTB previously (Saturniid Moth from South Africa: Imbrasia wahlbergi – May 7th, 2007). Regards.
Karl

Thanks for the ID on the Imbrasia wahlbergi Caterpillar Karl. As we wrote to Dave this morning, we were running late for work. As things played out, we got to LACC to teach about 6 minutes before class started. We were going to search the World’s Greatest Saturniidae Site which contains the Kirby Wolfe link you provided. We will have to spend some time researching the Hemipteran nymphs now. They behave like Assassin Bugs, but don’t look like Assassin Bugs. Perhaps they are Predatory Stink Bugs, but they don’t look like Stink Bugs either. They actually resemble plant eating Hemipterans. We have run several images in the past of social feeding Assassin Bugs that feed on Millipedes, Ectrichodia crux, but these individuals look different if our memory serves us correctly.

Update from Eric Eaton
Sayturday, January 10, 2009
The hemipterans are likely in the family Lygaeidae. Many (most?) of the Heteroptera are opportunistic scavengers or predators. I once saw two small milkweed bugs feeding on a dead honeybee, for example. But, the bugs in the image are nymphs, so no way to be certain for sure (though I think it is safe to rule out assassin bugs).
Eric

Update from Dave:  January 11, 2009
Thanks, bug masters! Apologies for the omission of some info. Length is around 8-12mm, and it was a millipede they were eating, not a centipede. The millipede assassin bugs look pretty close, but they’re a little too red, and the bugs in question don’t have the third black spot on their back. I think you nailed the caterpillar – thanks again.
I’ll get the search going to find the adults.

Letter 71 – French Red Black Shieldbugs Mating

 

bug love
Hi Bugman!
you might wish to put this one on your website of bug loves & lives. I capturerd these two in France, South of the town of Bergerac. Cheers,
Sam Bal

Hi Sam,
If we didn’t have to go to work today to grade final projects, we would love to stay online until we identified your mating Hemipterans, but we decided to try anyways. A search of “red black striped hemipteran europe” took us to a PDF document on the Red-Black Shieldbug, Graphosoma lineatum.

Letter 72 – Immature Cotton Stainer

 

Found in the Everglades
August 8, 2009
Can you identify this bug? This photo was taken in July in the Florida Everglades. We see them occasionally on the plants but have not been able to identify it.
Everglades adventurer
Florida Everglades

Cotton Stainer Nymph
Cotton Stainer Nymph

Dear Everglades adventurer,
This is an immature Cotton Stainer in the genus Dysdercus, most probably Dysdercus suturellus.  You can see additional images on BugGuide.

Letter 73 – Immature True Bugs from South Africa might be Cotton Stainers

 

Subject:  Red nymphs clustered? Which bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Waterberg, Limpopo, South Africa
Date: 06/13/2019
Time: 05:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there, we found this insects in our reserve at Lapalala Wilderness and would like to know which species to add it to our newsletter. However, we seem to struggle to find out and receive contradicting answers from different people. Maybe you can help?
How you want your letter signed:  Anne

Probably Immature Cotton Stainers

Dear Anne,
These are immature True Bugs and nymphs can be very difficult to identify with certainty.  We believe these are immature Cotton Stainers in the family Pyrrhocoridae, but since there are no adults present, we cannot be certain.  Members of the family are sometimes called Red Bugs.

Letter 74 – Mating Cotton Stainers

 

unknown beetle
Sorry to hear your so swamped. But that means you’re very popular. Love the site, visit it regularly and have posted pic’s in the past. I have been through all the beetle pages and have not found one with the color pattern of the one included. If I did miss it sorry, at least it can be a picture for the bug love pages if nothing else. Picture taken Nov. 2, 2006 in Central Florida (Sebring). Thanks for providing a great web site.
Mike D’Aguilar

Hi Mike,
The reason you could not locate these mating Cotton Stainers on the beetle pages is that they are Hemipterans, or True Bugs. Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus suturellus, are relatively common in the southern states and were once considered a significant agricultural pest on cotton before growing practices changed which controlled the numbers. The Cotton Stainer is also known as a Red Bug.

Letter 75 – Mating Cotton Stainers

 

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.”

Letter 76 – Mating Cotton Stainers

 

Subject: Please identify this insect
Location: Southeast Florida – Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge
December 26, 2012 12:36 pm
I photographed these 2 red insects (with black wings) at the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Florida (Palm Beach County).
What are they?
Signature: Robert Goldman

Mating Cotton Stainers

Dear Robert,
These are very nice photos of mating Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus suturellus.  According to BugGuide:  “found on many plants, incl. cotton, hibiscus, oranges, etc” and  it is a “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.'”

Mating Cotton Stainers

Hey Daniel.  Thank you for the very prompt reply to my request.  Glad you like the photos.  Interesting identification.  We don’t have much of a cotton crop here in South Florida.
If you would like to see more of my work, I invite you to connect with my Blair Photography page at
https://www.facebook.com/RobertBlairPhotography.
Thanks again,
Robert

Letter 77 – Mating Cotton Stainers

 

Subject:  Bug that looks like it’s in a Marching Band
Geographic location of the bug:  Clearwater Florida
Date: 09/29/2017
Time: 03:08 PM EDT
Hi Bugman I shot this COOL! looking bug yesterday. It looks like it’s in a Marching Band Outfit. Would it be possible for you to identify for me? Thanks Again Very Much!
How you want your letter signed:  Brent Hansen

Mating Cotton Stainers

Dear Brent,
We love your colorful description.  These are mating Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus suturellus, and according to BugGuide:  “found on many plants, incl. cotton, hibiscus, oranges, etc.”

Mating Cotton Stainers

Hi Bugman – Thanks Again Very Much!!! for your identification – It’s a really Cool looking bug. Have a Great Day! Brent

Letter 78 – Pale Cotton Stainer Nymph from Australia

 

Bug in Backyard
Location: Penrith, NSW Australia
April 3, 2011 12:12 am
Hello,
I found a whole bunch (about 50-100) of these bugs on the wooded surround of my backyard water feature. Is this bug going to be a problem? How do i get rid of it? Should i get rid of it a certain way?
Signature: Thanks! Ben

Pale Cotton Stainer Nymph

Dear Ben,
This is an immature True Bug and many nymphs are difficult to distinguish from one another.  Your insect has a strong resemblance to an immature Cotton Stainer,
Dysdercus suturellus, a species found in North America and profiled on BugGuide.  The Brisbane Insect Website indicates that a member of the genus is found in Australia, the Pale Cotton Stainer, Dysdercus sidae, but no photos of the nymph are picturedNymphs undergo five molts before becoming adults, and each, though similar to the previous, is slightly different.  The immature Pale Cotton Stainer pictured on the Queensland Government website appears to be an earlier instar than the individual in your photograph, as the wingpads are smaller.  A photo of an immature Pale Cotton Stainer that looks quite similar to your specimen can be seen on the Infonet-biovision webpage on Cotton pests by scrolling down the page.  As we stated originally, immature True Bugs are difficult to positively identify, and this may be another member of the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae or even a member of a different family.  Many True Bugs form large aggregations of immature as well as mature individuals, and they can get quite plentiful at times.

Letter 79 – Red Cotton Bug from India

 

Fire Bug?
Greetings from India !
I shot this tiny (about 1.5 cms) insect yesterday nar Bangalore City, South India. Whould you be able to identify it for me? regards,
Vijay Cavale

Hi Vijay,
This is a Red Cotton Bug, Dysdercus cingulatus. We located some information online, regarding this Hemipteran in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the Red Bugs.

very many thanks … do you encourage more queries like this? I plan to shoot a lot more macro this year and I am doing this for science and have no problem in anyone using the images for any non-commercial work .. regards
Vijay

Letter 80 – Saint Andrew's Cotton Stainer

 

Caribbean, crawling, red body, white stripes with some black
May 5, 2010
We have never seen these insects, but this year, there are _thousands_ and seem to reproduce with no obvious predator. Some eat downed fruit from a large Seaside Mahoe tree (sometimes called a seaside hibiscus), others seem to be eating dead plant material (example: a small dead palm plant about 3 feet tall), but some are seemingly eating live plant leaves.
There seem to be two variants:
(A) one flatter one with a red body and a white “collar” and an “X” marking on the dorsal side. It almost looks like an old foot soldier uniform from the 18th century.
(B) a more rounded one with a red body and several white stripes.
Anguilla
Caribbean (Anguilla, British West Indies)

Saint Andrew's Cotton Stainers: Mating Adults and nymphs

Hi Anguilla,
You have Saint Andrew’s Cotton Stainers, Cysdercus andreae, both winged adults and wingless nymphs.  The pair in the center of you one photo is mating.  According to Bugguide:  “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. – University of Florida.

Saint Andrew's Cotton Stainer

Thank you! It’s a perfect answer, as we have a fruiting tree that dropped fruit. The stainers were all over the fruit, but also on a dead palm and some other _live_ plants. The live plants and the fact that these things can reproduce like crazy had us worried. (I have never seen so many end-to-end joined things before. They don’t have to work hard to pick up mates…)
Hopefully they have predators (birds, lizards, and (ahem) roaming wild chickens). if so I would assume they’d be controlled naturally. What _does_ eat them?
A great, great answer, in a fabulously short timeframe. Many thanks!
Mark

Letter 81 – Saint Andrews Cotton Stainer Bug

 

Tropical Assassin bug?
Greetings: Can you help with the Genus and species ID of these bugs? Photo taken near Nassau, Bahamas in October 2007. Thanks

This is the Saint Andrews Cotton Stainer Bug, Dysdercus andreae. It is not an Assassin Bug, but a True Bug in the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae.

Letter 82 – St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainer

 

Subject: Katydid Question
Location: Tortola, British Virgin Islands
March 2, 2014 6:23 pm
Hey,
Just have a few bug questions. Wondering what these are, theres a katydid, a spider and a pile of these cool red beetles. Common name and genuis-species would be nice too if possible. Thanks!
Signature: Charlie

St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers
St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers

Dear Charlie,
We were surprised that we received two identification requests from the British Virgin Islands on the same day, and we can’t help but to wonder if there was some local publicity that led you to our site.  For the purposes of organizing our archives, we like for each posting to contain a single species, or if there are multiple species, for them to be classified similarly.  For that reason we are only posting your “cool red beetles” which are actually St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus andreae, a species of Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae and classified as True Bugs and not Beetles.  There are several mating pairs evident in your photo.  See BugGuide for verification of our identification.  Please resend your other identification requests individually using our standard submission form by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link and please provide any important background information on the sightings.

St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers
St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers

 

Letter 83 – St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer from the Virgin Islands

 

Virgin Island’s Bug
Location:  Virgin Island
July 26, 2010 9:58 pm
Found these while on a trip to the Virgin Islands. The only name we found from a local was ’love bugs.’ I can only assume given by their orgy like piles. I was wondering what these little guys were. They had such a beautiful color I had to photograph.
In a side note, I live in southern Ohio and get all sorts of bugs inside. I hate the idea of using chemicals to kill them. Do you have any suggestions for deterrents for your common bugs? I once heard crab apples worked on spiders?
Michael

Aggregation of St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers

Hi Michael,
The winged adults and wingless nymphs of many True Bugs, including the St. Andrew’s Cotton Stainers,
Dysdercus andreae, in your photo form large aggregations.  Though mating does occur in these situations, the aggregations are thought to help the survival of the species because of the safety in numbers syndrome.  We have heard that folks in Ohio use ripe Osage Oranges to deter insects, but we cannot confirm that it works.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Cotton Stainer

Related Posts

160 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks, bug masters! Apologies for the omission of some info. Length is around 8-12mm, and it was a millipede they were eating, not a centipede. The millipede assassin bugs look pretty close, but they’re a little too red, and the bugs in question don’t have the third black spot on their back. I think you nailed the caterpillar – thanks again.

    I’ll get the search going to find the adults.

    Reply
  • I think they’re close to this cotton stainers from Namibia: http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2011/11/24/unknown-true-bugs-from-namibia/

    Reply
    • Thanks Cesar,
      Thursday and Friday are both very long days at work and away from the WTB? offices, so your assistance in this identification is greatly appreciated.

      Reply
  • Reply
  • Cool, this assassin bug seems to Mimic them:
    http://www.reduviidae.de/systematik/harpactorinae/phonoctonus.html

    Reply
  • Cool, this assassin bug seems to Mimic them:
    http://www.reduviidae.de/systematik/harpactorinae/phonoctonus.html

    Reply
  • These bugs have been in my yard a few years and I live in the bay area.

    Reply
  • we have had them in riverside county for a few years too the best way to get rid of them is laundry soap and and water in a sprayer you can use cheap liquid detergent we have animals and dont like pestisides or poisons .

    Reply
    • Thanks Jodi Hanby for your recommendation of laundry soap and water. I used Dawn dish soap & water and it worked great!

      Reply
  • these bugs are showing up in Iowa too.

    Reply
  • These are soapberry bugs, rather than Cenaeus carnifex. The image on the site South African Photographs that you reference is for that ID is instead Leptocoris hexophthalmus. Those in these images are a little difficult to identify. The short winged adults, particularly that in the center of image 2 (which is take from image 1), is Leptocoris mutilatus. That just to its left may be of the other soaberry bug genus, Boisea, in this case Boisea fulcrata. It is tricky because there appears to be some mimicry among S. African soapberry bugs. The upper-most adult in image 1 might be L. hexophthalmus. All soapberry bugs depend on seeds of plants in the soapberry family (Sapindaceae), including Allophylus spp., Pappea capensis and Cardiospermum spp. (including invasive C. grandiflorum). So one of these plants or a relative is in or near Philip’s new garden. There are few host records for S. Africa, so we are always looking for good host photodocumentation from observant naturalists!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the correction Scott. We have updated the posting with the corrected information.

      Reply
  • Hi, rather than a cotton stainer in California, this is the similarly colorful Whitecrossed Seed Bug (Neacoryphus bicrucis, a Lygaeid), as you noted in your posting for another inquiry on this species on January 8, 2013 .

    Reply
  • alen jay batomalaque
    May 29, 2014 6:07 pm

    clear picture of predatory bug

    Reply
  • alen jay batomalaque
    May 29, 2014 6:08 pm

    i am intrested that predatory bug givve some picture

    Reply
  • Doretta Jones
    June 4, 2014 2:53 pm

    They are in Louisvile Kentucky too

    Reply
  • Cindy du Plessis
    August 24, 2014 11:16 am

    I have seen these in lots of little clusters before the winter began against the stems of trees in Pretoria South Africa. I can send pictures if anybody wants them. They also seem to have preferred only that specific tree.

    Reply
  • I hate these blasted soapberry bugs, please could you tell me how I can exterminate them forever as I get them in the thousands every year!!!
    Thanks

    Reply
  • I hate these blasted soapberry bugs, please could you tell me how I can exterminate them forever as I get them in the thousands every year!!!
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Pyrrhocoridae. Antilochus coquebertii.

    Reply
  • Ive always called them Meat Bugs. Im located in East London on the Eastern Cape coast. They are carnivorous or omnivorous for sure. Some have black V shape markings some are just red.

    Reply
  • I live near Denver and we have these too

    Reply
  • I had this really similar unknown bug. I have pictures of it when it was a caterpillar/worm, it then turned into a pupa (still have it) and after awhile it became this bug and I let it go (can prove it with pictures)

    Reply
  • Oh, and for your info, I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Reply
  • Hi Daniel
    I’ve spoken with Doug Yanega and he has ID these as either Pyrrhocoridae or Largidae due to their lack of Ocelli (Not Rhopalidae ). I’ve also just posted a nymph of the same species to my Flickr page.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/davegball/16059243009/
    Happy New Year!
    David.

    Reply
  • Hi Daniel
    I’ve spoken with Doug Yanega and he has ID these as either Pyrrhocoridae or Largidae due to their lack of Ocelli (Not Rhopalidae ). I’ve also just posted a nymph of the same species to my Flickr page.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/davegball/16059243009/
    Happy New Year!
    David.

    Reply
  • This bug is the predatory pyrrhocoridan Antilochus conqueberti.

    Reply
  • Red Cotton Bug, Pyrrhocoridae, Odontopus varicornis.
    http://www.nbair.res.in/insectpests/Odontopus-varicornis.php

    Reply
  • It looks kind of beautiful 🙂

    Reply
  • Lots of them in my trees, saw them feasting on 2 doves. So they are not dangerous at all?

    Reply
  • Are these bugs poisonous?
    How can we contain them in a particular “space”?

    Reply
  • Are these bugs poisonous?
    How can we contain them in a particular “space”?

    Reply
  • maryann kartz
    April 27, 2015 8:06 am

    I have thousands of these red bugs everywhere.. I saw they were mating recently.. And now there numbers have increased. There are little babies everywhere.. You will see 50 or more on a single weed in the yard.. Very freaky.. Englewood Florida..

    Reply
  • Paul Vincent
    May 10, 2015 12:05 am

    They’re called Firebugs. Just located a huge population of them here in Huntington Beach at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

    Reply
    • The Red Bugs commonly called Firebugs, Pyrrhocoris apterus, are a different, but similar looking species from Europe. Several years back, we received a report of Firebugs from Utah, and as of now, BugGuide only reports Firebugs from Utah. Since Firebugs and Mediterranean Red Bugs look similar, we would not venture to speculate that you truly observed Firebugs in Bolsa Chica without an image.

      Reply
  • We just noticed hundreds of these bugs along our fence line. I live in Fullerton, CA in Southern CA. We were wondering if our drought has something to do with it since we no longer water anything but our flowerbeds (these aren’t in the flowerbeds yet).

    Reply
  • Rosemary Williams
    June 25, 2015 6:55 pm

    We have a huge outbreak in our back yard about 12 miles east of Santa Maria Ca. They are in many different stages and appear to be breeding. They will swarm a weed to feed and appear to be boiling out of dry cracks in the soil. They are beautiful but there are a cajillion of them

    Reply
  • Found in Huntington Beach now as well.

    Reply
  • Winchester Calif, summer 2015, they seem to love the dung of our pasture horses

    Reply
    • Larry Woodson
      August 24, 2022 4:56 pm

      Shary,
      I read your comment regarding the Mediterranean Red Bug in horse dung. The same bug infested our horse paddock by the thousands. I’ve been killing them with Castile soap and H2O but new nymphs and still huge infestation. Were you successful in eradicating them from your pasture? How? I know its been a long time, so you may not get this, but thought I’d take a shot. Thanks.

      Reply
  • Virginia Tapp
    July 28, 2015 11:48 am

    We live in Utah and have suddenly found a large amount of these Mediterrean Red Bugs.

    Reply
  • Virginia Tapp
    July 28, 2015 11:49 am

    Mediterrean Red Bugs now in Utah

    Reply
  • We have so many of these on our property in Fallbrook, Ca (northern most part of San Diego county). They seem to be increasing daily!

    Reply
  • Kathy Fortenberry
    August 13, 2015 7:17 pm

    I have planted milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies and have just recently notice these red bugs on the milkweed. Will they harm my caterpillars or are they just after the aphids or are they targeting the milkweed plant?

    Reply
  • Large aggregation of red bugs here in the foothills 10-15 miles east of Santa Maria, CA in field of dead weeds.

    Reply
  • I’ve been watching these red bugs for a couple of weeks. It is very dry here (southern Tulare County, CA) and all the surrounding fields are dry. Although my mostly fallow garden is full of these guys. I have not seen them showing any interest in eating veggies. Nor do the chickens show any interest in eating them! This evening I found a dry dandelion stalk completely covered with tiny red nymphs(?). I sure hope they don’t acquire a taste for greens.

    Reply
  • Dear Bugpersonnel, please look here: http://www.farangsgonewild.com/probergrothius-nigricornis.html. Very similar.

    Reply
  • We have been seeing many of these bugs the past few weeks in Baja California, Mexico. I don’t recall seeing any last year. We are about 40 miles South of the CA border.

    Reply
  • Reduviid-like to me.

    Reply
    • Thanks Cesar. Phasmid Eggs did not sit well with me. I generally think of Phasmids as scattering the eggs, and not laying them in a cluster.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • A.N.Suresh Kumar
    April 15, 2016 2:46 pm

    The following link does not exist anymore:
    http://www.nbair.res.in/insectpests/Odontopus-varicornis.php

    NBAIR have corrected their Id and have changed it to Melamphaus sp. Family: Pyrrhocoridae,
    http://www.nbair.res.in/insectpests/Melamphaus.php

    It is

    Reply
    • Thank you for informing us. Websites come and go and we feel lucky to have been an active site since 2002 and an online column on the now defunct American Homebody site since 1998. We will retain those specific dead links as an historical record, and we will provide an update with the new link and ID.

      Reply
  • They are in Oregon.

    Reply
  • They are also in North Carolina. My yard is full of them and they multiply by the thousands. Size ranges to teeny to the size of a common cockroach. How can I get rid of them?

    Reply
  • How to get rid of them?

    Reply
  • Showed up in the native wildflower beds this Spring 2016, installed beds last Spring. My ox-Eye sunflowers foliage is seeing damage but not sure if this red bug is the problem yet.

    Reply
  • I saw one for the first time today. I live in Granada Hills, Ca. (San Fernando Valley).
    I do have a pest control service.

    Reply
  • I’m in Desert hot springs, and today I was driving and felt something on my arm, it had bit me. Too bad we can’t post pics here. I have a pic of it from today. This site won let you post picture

    Reply
    • The editorial staff of What’s That Bug? strictly monitors site content, so we do not permit random posting of imagery from the web browsing public. Imagine for a moment how much time we would spend removing inappropriate content if anyone could post anything to our site. You may submit any images you would like to have identified through our established process, which is to use the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site and attaching up to three images. We select site content from among the hundreds of submissions we receive each week.

      Reply
  • First time I’ve seen this bug at home, Ventura, Ventura County. There seem to be quite a lot of them in a short period of time.

    Reply
  • Just spotted about 1/2 dozen or more of these insects just now clustering on the blooms on our milkweed/butterfly plants in the East/Hollywood or ‘Little Armenia’ area of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County.

    Reply
  • Hi, saw these everyone on the cliffs of Palos Verdes Callifornia

    Reply
  • Thousands found on hiking trails behind Bella Colina golf course in San Clemente

    Reply
  • These bugs are in my back yard in ventura ca how can I get them out

    Reply
  • Hi I want to kno how to kill these red bugs there’s too many

    Reply
  • Quite a few found in our backyard in Monterey Park, CA (Los Angeles County)
    How can we get rid of them organically?

    Reply
    • After reading another comment earlier, back in August, Here in East Hollywood, I just shook the plant and they flew away, and/or, if they fell to the ground, I just stepped on them. [Most flew off].

      Reply
  • I have millions of these in my ash tree! Southwest Missouri

    Reply
  • We have these all over our property in San Benito County. There are 1000’s of them. They have moved from around the yard to the horse manure piles in my pasture. Lots of aggregations still. A few under the water troughs, one in a dying tree and some on the sides of my horse shelters.

    Reply
    • After the invasion last two years I have yet to see one after winter. I am so surprised since we had 1000’s and 1000’s. I can’t see that they did any damage.

      Reply
  • My son got bitten by one of the species of these last night they walk bum to bum and have green and red like native American markings on back … when they are small they are red… kissing bug?

    Reply
  • Thank you Mike – these Red bugs are on my Hibiscus and mating. Have quite a few. Interesting to watch. They didn’t like having their picture taken and attempted to hide under the leaves.

    Reply
  • These are St Andrew’s cotton stainer Dysdercus andreae.

    Reply
  • we have gazillions in our yard!!! along with them are some inch long blackish/gray bugs that sometimes stick together…like backend to backend. When the blackish/gray bugs are squished, red looking “blood” oozes out. I’m in South Texas.

    Reply
  • I just found few dozen of them on my house here in Windsor Ontario, Canada. Is there any chance for them to nest inside my house?

    Reply
  • Hi I stay in Gauteng on small holding I came across this bug. They are red in colour and appear in big red bunches. They were on my boundary wall and on a tree in my garden. Why are they here?
    What is attracting them?

    Reply
  • Hi I stay in Gauteng on small holding I came across this bug. They are red in colour and appear in big red bunches. They were on my boundary wall and on a tree in my garden. Why are they here?
    What is attracting them?

    Reply
  • Invasion here in Orangevale, near Sacramento!

    Reply
  • We have them in Ventura CA too

    Reply
  • ERNIE MARTINEZ
    June 20, 2017 5:09 pm

    I have found these in my yard in Southern Idaho. They are annoying.

    Reply
    • BugGuide does not report any members of the Red Bug family Pyrrhocoridae in Idaho. We suspect you most likely encountered Western Boxelder Bugs or some other species with red nymphs that form aggregations, as pictured in this BugGuide posting.

      Reply
  • can I get information on their life cycle

    Reply
  • Backyard infestation in Anaheim! Do these pose a threat to my vegetable garden?

    Reply
  • We have them all over the ranch in Ventura California

    Reply
  • We’re in Mission Viejo, CA, around Trabuco and Los Alisos, not far from the Aliso Viejo sighting. We have an infestation of them in our yard. The yard is about 50×20, about 1/4 of it has a lot of vegetables we’re growning as a garden. Unfortunately we’ve let the rest of it go to weeds. The bugs are in all stages of maturity. The tiny ones look like red aphids. The adults frequently walk around with their rear-ends attached, obviously (?) mating. While they appear to have wings they do not seem to be flying.

    Can anyone recommend a garden-friendly/organic method of removal? I’m planning to hack out the weeds then sweep them up and try basic soap water all over.

    Reply
  • Cameron Adam
    July 29, 2017 7:21 am

    Yes in Utah I’m seeing more of them and less box elder bugs? What is the best way the get rid of them?

    Reply
  • Thank you for this identification!! I posted a picture of these bugs on Facebook asking if anyone knew what they were and had a few people insisting they were box elder beetles. I was certain “my” bugs were something different, so I Googled how to do a reverse image search on my phone and found this page on your site. I am in Mojave, CA (north of Los Angeles) and have noticed these bugs for about a week now. It’s good to know they likely don’t pose any danger to us, our pets, or the trees in our area.

    Reply
  • Christine J Stapp
    September 1, 2017 10:46 am

    Just found these in northern VA – do they do anything specific to plants? Should I leave them be or try to get rid of them? Anyone know?

    Reply
  • I have several thousand in my yard.. Bleach did not kill them.. I will try the soap.. Are there any ideas to kill them in mass,,,, break cleaner, wd40, and engin bright did not work…. Someone Help

    Reply
  • Sam – I, too, had thousands in my yard and garden for the last 2 summers of the drought, But for the life of me, I could never discover any damage done by them. I just left them alone (organic gardening purist :P), except for taking a few pics. We had LOTS of rain this last winter, and now I only see an occasional straggler. We live out in the country, so maybe they just have room to spread out (or drowned). Hope you survive.

    Reply
  • We have millions of them in Menifee CA!

    Reply
  • The ones in this thread are probably not Antilochus (the one in the link seems okay though), but probably rather some Melamphaus sp.

    Reply
  • k. walters: 10/2017. I am in the foot hills east of Fresno @1600 ft. Nine months ago I found a Blue Oak tree, killed by the drought, infested with these bugs. I have since cut the tree down and removed the wood. The bugs have started to infest various weeds, some areas of the barn, and seem to nest under dried piles of horse manure. Breeding locations? How or where do these bugs breed, subterranean? They have dispersed to about a half acre area.
    Any help on controlling their breeding environment and and substances that kill them is appreciated. Laundry soap is my next step for killing them. Thanks, Kurt

    Reply
    • We don’t provide extermination advice. The Center for Invasive Species Research states: “The most noticeable impact of S. aegyptius in California will likely be the presence of large numbers of nymphs and adults migrating from drying annual weeds into adjacent developed areas. These migrations consisting of thousands of individuals can be very conspicuous and lead to large aggregations on small patches of host plants causing concern to local residents who notice these obvious aggregations.” There might be other helpful information for you there.

      Reply
    • Kurt Walters – I used Dawn dish soap & water and it worked great!

      Reply
  • Doug Peltz found them. He is the CEO of Mystery Science and was a former science teacher.
    Go check him out at mysterydoug.com

    Reply
  • Doug Peltz found them. He is the CEO of Mystery Science and was a former science teacher.
    Go check him out at mysterydoug.com

    Reply
  • Bert the Biologist
    November 6, 2017 9:22 am

    I see hundreds of them at a park near my house in Santa Clarita. They emerge en masse from Argentine ant nests. I wonder if they are feeding on the ant larvae and then planting their eggs in the nests…

    Reply
  • We are actually in Northern California and this is the first year we have seen them. There are millions of them!!

    Reply
  • Riekie Foster
    April 8, 2018 5:48 am

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

    Reply
  • Roxan Coffman, gardener
    April 8, 2018 3:13 pm

    I planted Milkweed two years ago and have watched these little red and black beetles increase in numbers . They are even crawling up the walls of our house. I don’t use bug spray because I have a lot on Hummers and bees coming to my plants. I have ants like crazy too and they don’t seem to be bothering them. I’m going to try the dish soap and water and spray on the ground around the plants.

    Reply
  • This bug has subsequently been rechecked at the department of entomology at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, GKVK and it is now confirmed as Probergrothius sanguinolens Amyot and Serville, 1843.

    Reply
  • A.N.Suresh Kumar
    June 22, 2018 2:40 pm

    Thanks for the update Mr.Shyamal

    Reply
  • Here in north eastern ohio as well in the grass beside my back door

    Reply
  • Hi we live in a complex in Roodepoort Johannesburg South Africa and have had the same colony living in our complex for over 8 years in the same area. One of the resedants is now asking for them to be exterminated and we feel it is uncalled for especially as the cause no harm. What steps can we take to prevent this from happening. Can such a colony be protected by any South African laws?

    Reply
  • Keith Dalziel
    October 16, 2018 8:21 am

    How do I get rid of them

    Reply
  • Thank you Bugman,
    The cotton stainer bug shows up about the time the althea stops blooming or the althea stops blooming because the bug attacks the bud. There are hundreds on each shrub. Think I will attempt control this year and see.

    Reply
  • Thank you Bugman,
    The cotton stainer bug shows up about the time the althea stops blooming or the althea stops blooming because the bug attacks the bud. There are hundreds on each shrub. Think I will attempt control this year and see.

    Reply
  • We having a migration of them coming into our community. We actually live a mile from UC Riverside. I guess as long as they eat weeds we’ll let them be.

    Reply
  • I’m in Fresno CA and just killed a bunch of these that were mating in my backyard. If someone could email me, I would be happy to send pictures.

    Reply
  • Arnold E Wong
    July 14, 2019 7:19 pm

    Hi,
    I am in Fair Oaks and this is the first time I have seen them in 2019. They are in my planter boxes. Can anyone tell me how bad are they if they are among my vegetables? and if so, what’s the best thing to use to kill them?

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Hi, thank you for posting this! I have encountered this bug many times(I live in South India) and was never able to find out which species it was. I also found their mating fascinating.

    P.S. I was always fascinated with insects. I just discovered this website and it is amazing. Thanks again for doing this.

    Reply
  • We were visiting Livermore Del Valle National Park and the ground was literally coverwd with these bugs. I had never seen them in all the years we have visited the park. The ground was red with them. Why has the park not fumigated to control them?do they bite dogs, humans?

    Reply
    • Sonia,
      They do not bite dogs, or humans and could only be a problem if you were growing a garden and didn’t want these red bugs eating your vegetation. They are NOT like a gross bug like a bedbug, or a roach.

      Reply
  • Thank you this is a great help. They have started coming in to the house, this will help to control them.

    Reply
  • Do Boxelder bugs eat plants, what is there diet?

    Reply
    • According to Animal Diversity Web: “Boxelder bugs feed on boxelder trees, maple trees, and ash trees. Nymphs feed on the juices found inside the seeds of host plants. Adults eat the leaves, flowers, twigs, and seeds of host plants. Prior to the development of seeds, they eat low vegetation and old seeds found on the ground. Boxelder bugs may eat other boxelder bugs or eggs during molting. Fruits including apples, pears, peaches, plums, and grapes are eaten as well. Boxelder bugs have been reported eating dead insects such as cicadas or ground beetles.”

      Reply
  • Same bug is found in my backyard and it so annoying, they sting and it’s painfull and now they started invading inside my house as well is there a repellant for this

    Reply
  • A few years back I had suggested Melamphaus as an option (above).

    There are some species of Melamphaus with a description that comes quite close, but the description of the antenna on these do not seem to fit the conspicuous black antennae with a white tip that can just about be recognized in the images here.

    Also note that the same antennae show in these images of “Melamphaus sp.” suggesting the ones on that page ay well be misidentified:
    https://www.nbair.res.in/Databases/insectpests/Melamphaus.php

    The conspicuous antennae rather seem to fit nicely with the description of Odontopus sanguinolens.
    The name of the genus Odontopus was replaced with Probergrothius by Kirkaldy in 1904 but that replacement was withdrawn by Kirkaldy himself in 1905. Recently some authors have started using Probergrothius again, following Stehlik (1966), but others retain the name Odontopus (Roberts, 2004). So, currently information and images can be found under either name:
    Odontopus sanguinolens
    Probergrothius sanguinolens

    Reply
  • Just found a ton of them in our front yard for the first time. Just on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

    Reply
  • Alice Nicholson
    July 10, 2020 7:31 pm

    We discovered hundreds and hundreds of them in our small yard in Phoenix this summer. We have never seen them here before, so it was a surprise to discover so many so fast!

    Reply
  • Is there anyway to get rid of them? My daughter lives in north Phoenix and came home from a weekend and found ants and these red bugs

    Reply
  • Johan Grobler
    April 12, 2021 7:36 am

    hi there

    How do i get rid of these insects and what damage can they do ?

    Reply
  • Johan Grobler
    April 12, 2021 7:36 am

    hi there

    How do i get rid of these insects and what damage can they do ?

    Reply
  • Going to need an exterminator to control box elders, they are difficult to manage without the products the professionals use.

    Reply
  • Mary Chabolla
    June 28, 2021 7:54 pm

    I live in the Bay Area and just discovered THOUSANDS of them near our dry construction area. They are piled up in mounds on little patches of green weeds in the dirt. I haven’t seen any of them flying which is good I suppose. I’m going to try the laundry soap too. Looks like they mate & multiply faster than rabbits!

    Reply
    • I had them for 5 years. The 5th year being the worst!I must of killed 20,000 that year with dawn dish soap. And i still had tons of them. BUT the next year they were all gone. I found alot of them dead in a tree’s bark, like they hung out there for winter and maybe the frost got them? Anyway who knows but the dirty rotten buggers have been gone for 2 years now thank goodness!

      Reply
    • Mary Chabolla – I used Dawn dish soap & water and it worked great!

      Reply
  • We are experiencing a black and red bug beetle mating and migration infestation in the west San Fernando Valley today 7/4/2022. I have never seen these beetles in these numbers here before. They are all over our entire front yard and sidewalk.

    Reply
  • I grow milkweed for Monarch butterflies.I have noticed these bugs eating the monarch’s eggs.The asian ladybugs and domestic lady bugs, can eat hundreds of Monarch in no time.

    Reply
  • I live in west side of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and noticed these in clumps on the side of quite a mature tree in a residential area on my late morning walk.There were two distinct patterns on their backs with fewer showing the markings your pics show. Have never seen before but identified them by an app on my cell phone. If you would like I can send them to you.
    At the time, I didn’t ident the tree but intend to shortly.

    Reply
  • Martjie Robertson
    December 2, 2022 8:44 am

    Do these bugs do harm in my veggie garden.

    Reply

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