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

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.

8 thoughts on “Predatory Red Bugs from India: Antilochus conqueberti”

    • 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.

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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:

    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


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