Soldier Bugs from Spain

Subject:  Can you identify this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Andalusia, spain
Date: 01/20/2018
Time: 09:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I was recently clearing ground, mainly olliander, and there were dozens (if not hundreds) of these small bugs. I assume that are some form of bark beetle, but can you help?
They are about 8-10 mm in size and this was in January 2018
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks in advance

Soldier Bugs

These are not Bark Beetles.  They are True Bugs and we located a matching image on Insects of Spain, but it is not identified.  Continued research led us to Honey Guide where we found images identified as Ground Bugs, Spilostethus pandurus.  That scientific name led us to Fauna and Funghi of Malta and the common name Soldier Bug and the information:  “A common insect often found solitary on wild plants or on the ground in vegetated areas. It is 12-15mm long and easily spotted due to its conspicuous red/black colour pattern. Despite it can be easily detected and caught by predators, it defends itself from them by secreting pungent odours and have a very repulsive taste, hence the predator will not eat another specimen of this species. It have pecial needle-like mandibles by which it pierce vegetative parts or other insects to feed on.”  iNaturalist verified the common name Soldier Bug as well as numerous sightings in Spain.

Soldier Bug
Soldier Bug

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