True Bugs: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

True bugs, belonging to the order Hemiptera, are a fascinating group of insects that you may have encountered in your daily life. These creatures are distinctive from other insects due to their specialized mouthparts, which are shaped like hypodermic needles for extracting body fluids from plants and animals, including humans Smithsonian Institution. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about true bugs and how they impact the world around you.

There is an incredible diversity of true bug species, each with unique characteristics and behaviors. Some of them, such as assassin bugs, are predatory and feed on other insects like caterpillars and cockroaches. Others, like aphids and stinkbugs, primarily feed on plants and can become agricultural pests if their populations grow too large.

As you explore the world of true bugs, you’ll discover how these insects adapt to their environments and the many ways they interact with plants, animals, and humans. Keep reading to learn more about the myriad features of true bugs, and understand the important role they play in various ecosystems. So, let’s dive in and uncover the fascinating secrets of these intriguing insects!

Identifying True Bugs

Physical Characteristics

True bugs can vary significantly in size, ranging from tiny aphids to large water bugs. Some common physical characteristics include:

  • Wings: Most true bugs have forewings and hindwings. The front part of the forewings is typically thickened and leathery, while the back part is membranous.
  • Mouthparts: These insects possess piercing-sucking mouthparts called a beak or stylet, which they use to feed on plant sap or other insects.
  • Segments: True bugs have segmented antennae and legs.
  • Exoskeleton: Their bodies have a tough, protective exoskeleton, usually covered in distinctive colors or patterns.

Species Overview

The Order Hemiptera includes a vast number of true bug species, belonging to the Suborder Heteroptera. Some well-known examples are:

  • Stink bugs: Known for releasing a foul-smelling odor when threatened or squashed.
  • Water bugs: Includes water striders and water scorpions, which often dwell in aquatic environments.
  • Assassin bugs: Predatory insects that use their hypodermic-needle-like mouthparts to attack and feed on other insects.
  • Bed bugs: Small, parasitic insects that feed on human blood.
  • Aphids: Tiny insects that feed on plant sap and are considered pests to many agricultural crops.

Comparison Table

Species Habitat Feeding Habits Common Characteristics
Stink Bugs Terrestrial Feed on plant sap Foul odor when threatened or squashed
Water Bugs Aquatic Predatory or scavenging Adapted for water environments
Assassin Bugs Terrestrial Predatory Sharp mouthparts for attacking prey
Bed Bugs Indoor Parasitic, feed on human blood Resilient and hard to eliminate
Aphids Terrestrial Feed on plant sap Tiny and often found in large groups

Life Cycle

True bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis during their life cycle, which consists of three stages:

  1. Eggs: Female true bugs lay their eggs in a variety of locations, depending on the species.
  2. Nymphs: After hatching, the insects go through several nymphal stages, gradually growing and resembling adults more with each molt.
  3. Adults: Once they reach the final nymphal stage, true bugs shed their exoskeleton one last time and emerge as full-grown adults.

During each nymph stage, they share similar physical characteristics and behaviors with adults. The primary difference between nymphs and adults is the presence of wings, which only develop fully in adult true bugs.

Understanding True Bug Behavior

Feeding Habits

True bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that allow them to extract subsurface fluids from plants and animals. For instance, they can feed on plant sap or the fluids of other insects. These bugs use their hypodermic needle-like mouthparts to pierce their food source and suck the required nutrients1.

Examples of true bugs that feed on plants are aphids and stink bugs. On the other hand, some true bugs like assassin bugs are predators that prey on other insects, such as caterpillars and ants1.

True Bugs and Their Predators

True bugs, like many other insects, have their own set of predators. Ants and beetles are examples of insects that prey on true bugs. In some instances, these predators can offer effective biological control, helping manage harmful pests that may damage crops1.

However, some true bugs may act as predators themselves. For example, the aforementioned assassin bugs are efficient hunters that help maintain natural balance within ecosystems.

True Bugs and Humans

While true bugs can be essential in maintaining ecosystems, some species can turn into pests or even disease carriers1. For example, certain true bugs like the triatomine bug can transmit Chagas disease to humans. This disease, caused by a parasite, can have severe health consequences if left untreated.

Another example of a true bug that can impact human lives is the bed bug. These insects are known for their ability to infest human dwellings, causing discomfort and other issues2.

In summary, true bugs exhibit a variety of behaviors ranging from feeding on plants or other insects to acting as predators and even having potential negative effects on humans. Understanding their habits and roles in ecosystems can help us better manage these insects and the possible threats they may pose.

World of True Bugs


True Bugs can be found in a variety of habitats. They reside in diverse environments such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, and even in agricultural areas. For instance, water bugs like water boatmen live in aquatic environments, being particularly common in stagnant bodies of water. More than 3,800 species of True Bugs are found in the United States alone, showcasing their adaptability to various surroundings.


True Bugs display various adaptations that help them survive in their habitats. Here are some features you may observe:

  • Camouflage: Many True Bugs possess excellent camouflage abilities, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.

  • Mouthparts: They have specialized mouthparts, such as a long slender beak, which they use to pierce plants and suck sap or even animal skin for some species.

  • Taxonomy: Belonging to the Order Heteroptera, True Bugs showcase two pairs of wings with an outer pair divided into a leathery basal part and a membranous apical part.

  • Tarsi: Their legs consist of three segments, called tarsi, suited for various functions such as swimming, jumping, or holding onto their prey.

Role in Ecosystem

True Bugs serve essential roles within their ecosystems, whether as predators, prey, or pollinators. Some bugs like assassin bugs prey on other insects, providing natural pest control in gardens and crops. In contrast, other species like aphids may cause harm to plants by feeding on their sap.

In a healthy ecosystem, True Bugs contribute to the overall balance, providing food sources for predators like birds, reptiles, and mammals. They also support plant reproduction by acting as pollinators in certain cases, making them valuable members of their environments.

Scientific Classification


The true bugs belong to the order Hemiptera and the suborder Heteroptera. These insects are commonly found in various habitats and can be easily recognized by their distinctive characteristics. Some examples of true bugs include stink bugs, assassin bugs, and leafhoppers.

For easy understanding, here’s a brief taxonomy:

  • Order: Hemiptera
  • Suborder: Heteroptera

True Bug Suborders

The order Hemiptera consists of three main suborders:

  1. Auchenorrhyncha: This group includes insects such as cicadas and leafhoppers.
  2. Sternorrhyncha: Whiteflies and aphids are part of this suborder.
  3. Heteroptera: True bugs fall under this category.

Families and Genera

The Heteroptera suborder is further divided into multiple families and genera. Here are some notable families and examples from each:

  • Reduviidae: Known as assassin bugs, they are predators of other insects.
  • Anthocoridae: These are also called minute pirate bugs and feed on small insects.
  • Pentatomidae: Commonly referred to as stink bugs, they produce a foul-smelling secretion for defense.
  • Nabidae: This family includes damsel bugs, which are beneficial predators in gardens.

True bugs possess unique features such as:

  • Elatra: These are wing covers with a leathery basal part and a membranous apical part.
  • Hemelytra: True bugs have these specialized front wings that partially cover their hind wings.

By understanding these classifications, you can better identify and appreciate the diversity and importance of true bugs in the world of insects.

Pest Control and Management

Common Pests

In the world of true bugs, there are various pests that can cause problems for you. Some common ones include:

  • Bed bugs: These small insects feed on human blood and can be found in bedding, mattresses, and furniture.
  • Shield bugs: Also known as stink bugs, they release a pungent odor when disturbed and can damage plants in your garden.
  • Mites and thrips: Both of these tiny pests can inflict damage on a variety of plants and may spread plant diseases.

Bug Management Strategies

To control these pests, you can use different strategies:

Biological control: This involves using natural enemies, such as predators, parasites, or pathogens, to reduce pest populations. For example, ladybugs are natural predators of aphids and mites, and can help keep their numbers in check.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): This is a comprehensive approach that combines various pest control methods, including cultural, physical, and chemical controls, to manage pest populations below the level at which they cause harm. IPM focuses on long-term solutions and minimizing environmental impact.

Some specific IPM methods include:

  • Sealing cracks and crevices to prevent bug entry
  • Regularly cleaning and decluttering to reduce hiding spots
  • Using pest-resistant plant varieties in your garden
  • Monitoring pest populations and taking action when necessary

In some cases, chemical controls might be necessary. But it’s essential to use them judiciously and follow the label directions to minimize their impact on the environment and non-target organisms.

By combining these strategies and taking a proactive approach to pest control, you can help protect your home and garden from the damage caused by true bugs and other pests.

Explanation of Technical Terms

When studying True Bugs, it’s essential to understand some specific terminology. Entomologists, or insect experts, often use these terms when discussing these fascinating creatures.

App: In the context of True Bugs, an app could refer to a smartphone application that helps identify different species of these insects.

Diagram: Diagrams are essential when learning about the anatomy and classification of True Bugs. They visually represent various aspects of these insects, such as their body structure or mouthparts.

For example, True Bugs have a unique mouthpart called a straw. This long, slender, beak-shaped structure is used to pierce plants and suck out sap or other fluids. Diagrams can help illustrate how this mouthpart works.

Greek: Greek terminology often plays a role in naming and categorizing species, as well as understanding their defining characteristics. For example, the term “Hemiptera” (the order to which True Bugs belong) comes from the Greek words “hemi,” meaning half, and “pteron,” meaning wing.

When comparing True Bugs to other insects, you may notice similarities and differences in characteristics:

Characteristics True Bugs Other insects
Mouthparts Straw Various
Wings (adult stage) Half-wings Various

True Bugs exhibit several defining features, such as:

  • Beak-shaped mouthparts (straw)
  • Half-wings, with the front part being thick and leathery, and the back part being membranous
  • Piercing and sucking feeding habits

These characteristics make True Bugs distinct from other insects, making it essential to understand the specific terminology mentioned above when exploring the fascinating world of these creatures.

True Bugs Vs Other Insects

True bugs belong to the insect order Heteroptera. In comparison to other insects like flies, bees, butterflies, and scale insects, true bugs have unique features that set them apart.

In the world of true bugs, you’ll find species like leafhoppers, aphids, cicadas, stink bugs, and even bed bugs. Unlike many insects, true bugs go through an incomplete metamorphosis. This means they don’t undergo a complete transformation from larva to adult. Instead, they transition through a series of nymph stages.

Let’s look at a comparison table for a clearer understanding:

Features True Bugs Other Insects (Flies, Bees, Butterflies, Scale Insects)
Insect Order Heteroptera Vary by type
Feeding Method Hypodermic needle-like mouthparts extracting fluids Vary by type (chewing, siphoning, etc.)
Metamorphosis Incomplete (nymph stages) Complete (larva to adult)
Number of Described Species Approx. 45,000 Over 1 million

One major difference between true bugs and other insects is their feeding method. True bugs have hypodermic needle-like mouthparts that enable them to extract body fluids from plants and animals. Other insects like flies, bees, and butterflies have different mouthpart structures depending on their feeding habits.

In terms of diversity, true bugs exhibit around 45,000 described species. However, this number is significantly smaller than the overall insect species count, which is well over 1 million.

Ultimately, though true bugs fall under the insect umbrella, their unique characteristics distinguish them from other insect groups.

Further Studies and Research on True Bugs

In the field of entomology, true bugs are a fascinating topic of study. As an enthusiast, you may be interested in diving deeper into this subject. There are many entomologists and resources available to help you in your journey.

One way to stay updated on the latest findings is to follow research conducted by entomologists. These experts study true bugs such as leafhoppers, aphids, cicadas, stink bugs, and water bugs, among others1. By learning from their work, you can broaden your knowledge about these insects’ behaviors, physiology, and interactions with the environment.

It’s also a good idea to explore selected references, such as academic articles and books, dedicated to true bugs. These resources often provide in-depth information on particular species or their role in ecosystems. When searching for references, focus on reputable sources to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information you find.

Staying engaged with true bug research can be an enjoyable and fulfilling pursuit. As you continue to learn, be open to sharing your insights with others and joining discussions in forums or social media groups dedicated to entomology. This way, you can contribute to the field while also building a network of like-minded enthusiasts.

Remember, it’s essential to maintain a friendly and curious attitude while studying true bugs. Embrace the opportunity to discover new things and stay informed on the latest research, ensuring your knowledge is always up to date.


  1. True Bugs (Heteroptera) | Smithsonian Institution 2 3 4 5

  2. How to Find Bed Bugs | US EPA

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 – Immature Hemipterans


Orange and Black insect
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
May 19, 2011 6:33 pm
I have these sitting on a leaf from my Zucchini plant.
Are they harmful to the plant? We also have yellow squash, tomatoes, cucumber, and basil. Will it harm them as well?
Thanks for your input.
Signature: Phil

Immature Hemipterans

Dear Phil,
These are immature Hemipterans, and nymphs are often quite difficult to correctly identify to the species level.  Our best guess is that they are in the family Coreidae and that they are plant feeders which will not benefit your zucchini as they suck the fluids from the leaves and stems.  We would recommend spraying them off with a hose.  Once they are no longer in a group, they will be more easily picked off by predators.

Letter 2 – Hyaline Grass Bugs


Can you identify this annoying, swarming bug?
Sun, Nov 23, 2008 at 12:08 PM
Hi. Noone I’ve talked to knows what these are. The bloom in late summer and are enormous pests through sheer numbers. They crash-land on everything and march around, but otherwise exhibit no behavior. They seek cracks and shelter and crowd together to winter, I suppose. I very rarely see them mating. They are a hideous annoyance that, at peak times, make it impossible to work outside. They get into EVERYTHING. Everything you open has them inside it. They are masters are penetration.
Ian Macky
Yreka (rural Northern California)

Hyaline Plant Bugs
Hyaline Plant Bugs

Hi Ian,
We did some research on BugGuide, and have concluded that you are being infested by Hyaline Grass Bugs, Liorhyssus hyalinus. There is considerable information on BugGuide on how to properly identify the species, but no information on its habits. We have not had much luck locating other information except a vague reference that they are pests on Sorghum. We would question if perhaps there are Sorghum fields near your residence.

Hi Daniel…
That certainly looks to be it!  Thanks so much.  I will find out if sorghum is grown around here.  I’m in the middle of acres of “buck brush” in scrub country, no crops are grown within a couple miles at
least.  Hmm…  I read up some and it said they eat sorghum and pistachio fruit– two very different things– which makes me wonder if there are others things it eats, something very common around here. Anyway, thanks again for the ID, that really helps.  If you like, I
can send you a few trillion for your collection.

Thanks for the offer Ian, but our entire collection of bugs is online.

Letter 3 – Gutta Bug


Orange and black bugs
Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 6:33 PM
Hi, I live in Western Australia, and recently moved house, finding these bugs in the backyard right after moving in.. What are they? and are they useful or harmful? (There’s a ton of them in the lawn…)
Perth, Western Australia

Gutta Bug
Gutta Bug

Hi DN,
You have photos of a winged adult and immature nymph of the Gutta Bug, Physopelta gutta.  We located images on the Geocities Australian Insects page. The Gutta Bug is a Seed Bug in the family Largidae.

Gutta Bug Nymph
Gutta Bug Nymph

Letter 4 – Harlequin Bug or Fire Bug from Australia


Same colours as the German flag!
Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 12:41 AM
My backyard has heaps of these bugs. They tend to hide behind bark. I have never seen them fly. I always have a seed bell hanging from a tree to attract mostly rainbow lorrikeets. The bugs swarm over the bell when the birds have gone. What are they and most importantly are they a danger to plant and tree life ?
Regards Henry Janten
Deer Park Victoria Australia

Unknown Australian True Bug
Harlequin Bug from Australia

Dear Henry,
We didn’t have any luck identifying your True Bug in the order Hemiptera on the Brisbane Insect website. The behavior you describe is similar to North American Boxelder Bugs in the family Rhopalidae, the Scentless Plant Bugs. Other good candidates are the family Lygaeidae, the Seed Bugs or Largidae, the Bordered Plant Bugs. Hopefully one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Update: Unidentified True Bug from Australia
Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:20 AM
I believe this beautiful true bug is in the genus Dindymus (Pyrrhocoridae), probably D. versicolour . The common name in Australia is Harlequin Bug (sometimes Fire Bug), although that name also seems to be applied to several related species. They are considered a plant pest, particularly on fruit trees. As the species name suggests, they show considerable variation on color. Another possibility might be D. ventralis. Regards.

Thanks Karl,
Seems we overlooked the Fire Bug on the Brisbane Insect Website because of the coloration not matching the photo we received.

Letter 5 – South African Spiny Bug


Subject:  What insect is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  South Africa, Freestate, Bloemfontein
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 12:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Was asked to find out what kind of bug this is and I cannot find any sources to identify it.
How you want your letter signed:  Elden

Spiny Bug

Dear Elden,
We spent a good amount of time attempting to identify your fascinating looking insect, and we finally decided to post it as Unidentified, a tag with far too many postings than we would like.  We feel very confident this is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera and we do not think it is a Lace Bug, but our searching produced nothing.  We even tried calling it “puzzle-shaped” to no avail.  We know we have a very similar looking True Bug in our archives, and we hope to have you a more definite identification soon.  Perhaps one of our readers will recognize this interesting insect.

Update:  Spiny True Bug
Thanks to a comment from Karl who assisted us in the past, we were able to locate the previous submission in our archives, the uncharacteristic looking Coreid Bug, possibly Pephricus livingstonei, commonly called a Spiny Bug.

Letter 6 – Newly hatched Hemipterans in Jamaica


aphids on my wall?
I’m in Jamaica (West indies) and I have never ever seen anything like this. They’re all huddled together like they’re praying to a bug god. Then I went to see them when it got dark and they were sleeping in a huddle but away from the line (is that an egg case?). I looked at your site but the only thing I could imagine they are, are aphids but I know aphids live on plants. Please explain to me what these crazy groupie bugs are lol Thank you!!!!

Hi Carrie,
These are newly hatched Hemipterans, probably some species of Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae. Both Leaf Footed Bugs and Aphids are in the order Hemiptera, but they are split into different suborders, with Leaf Footed Bugs belonging to the suborder Heteroptera, the True Bugs, and Aphids belonging to the suborder Sternorrhyncha, the Plant-parasitic Hemipterans.

Letter 7 – True Bug from China


Subject: True bug ID request
Location: Ming Tombs, Shisanlingzhen (North Beijing), China
November 18, 2012 5:53 pm
Hello Bugman,
Attached is an image of an insect found on a stone wall of the historic Ming Tombs in Beijing, China.
I’m sorry to say, it was about the only insect I saw on my entire 2 week visit to the country.
It appears to me to be some sort of True Bug, like a Box Elder, though of a Chinese variety.
Your help in identifying this guy, or pointing me to any resources that would help in identification would be most appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Signature: Shane Fitzgibbons

True Bug might be Seed Bug

Hi Shane,
Thanks for sending in this photo of a Chinese True Bug.  Our best guess is that it is most likely a Seed Bug in the family Lygaeidae or Scentless Plant Bug in the family Rhopalidae.  The latter is the family that includes Boxelder Bugs.  We haven’t the time to research this right now, and we are postdating your submission to go live during our absence from the office during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Perhaps during our absence, one of our readers will be able to supply a species identification for you.

Letter 8 – True Bugs on Grape Leaves in South Africa


Subject: Sampling trip insect
Location: Vredendal, South Africa
February 25, 2017 2:10 am
Dear Bugman
On a recent sampling trip for grapevine samples we came across a vine infested with these little fellows. They were covering certain leaves and the entire stem of the vine was crawling with them. Can you help us identify what these might be.
Yours sincerely
Lucan D. Page
Signature: Grapevine bug/beetle?

Bugs on Grapes

Dear Lucan,
These are definitely NOT Beetles.  They are True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera, and we suspect if they are commonly found on grape leaves, we will soon be able to provide you with an identification.

True Bugs Swarming on Grape Leaves
True Bugs swarming on Grape Leaves

Letter 9 – Spiny Soldier Bug Eggs


Whose eggs are these?
May 29, 2010
I found these on a dishcloth I brought in from the line today. They’re 0.75mm across, hard, and they stick to the cloth. I’m curious to know what they are. Thanks!
Fredericton, NB, Canada

Spined Soldier Bug Eggs

Five Minutes Later
Hi, I just wrote you about some tiny black eggs. They’re spined soldier bugs; a quick google search turned this up. I thought IDing the eggs would have been more difficult, but the internet’s a big place. Thanks for the website; I’ve visited before but never had a question until today.

Spined Soldier Bug Eggs

Hi Derek,
We are pleased to hear that you identified your eggs as those of a Spined Soldier Bug in the genus Podisus.  Here is an image from BugGuide for comparison.  Spined Soldier Bugs are actually Predatory Stink Bugs.

Letter 10 – Well Camouflaged True Bug from Australia is Long Assassin Bug


Master of Disguise
July 22, 2010
Hi guys,
Having problems trying to use the form to submit so in case it didn’t get through here is my query.
I found this today and thought I had found a spider in the Tetragnathidae family (Long Jawed Spiders) but on close examination realised it was a true bug doing a great job of disguising itself. It doesn’t appear to have a proboscis which would rule out the assassins. Any ideas or has anyone seen something like this before?

Unknown True Bug

Hi Trevor,
We love getting letters from you.  You always provide us with such interesting Australian creatures and your photos are always wonderful.

Alas, we cannot identify your True Bug, but we hope that by posting your letter in our new “Featured” section, one of our readers may write in and provide an identification and some details.  We will also contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide a family, though his area of expertise is North American species.

Eric Eaton provides his opinion
Daniel:  The Australian thing is a nymph of some kind.  I’d have to side with Reduviidae, though my first thought was a walkingstick.
Sorry, you are better at Aussie bugs now than I am!

Karl writes in
Hi Daniel and Trevor:
Like Eric, my first thought was Walkingstick; I then flirted briefly with Stilt Bugs and finally landed on Assassin Bugs.  It appears to be a species of Australcmena, an Australian genus with only two reported species, A. lineativentris and A. handschini. According to the site “Die Raubwanzen der Welt” ( the two are synonymous and A. lineativentris is the only species in the genus. I could find absolutely no other information about this curious bug. Regards. Karl

Karl provides some additional information
I somehow missed this earlier but the “Brisbane Insects and Spiders” site and the “Lifeunseen” site both have pictures of Australcmena lineativentris adults, also known as the Long Assassin Bug. Not surprisingly, they look quite different from the nymph in Trevor’s photo but some features are consistent. You can just make out the rudimentary spikes on the back of the nymph’s pronotum for instance. Australcmena belongs in the Harpactorinae subfamily. K

Letter 11 – WHERE ON EARTH IS IT????????


What on earth is this?
Thank you,

Hi Eric,
We really don’t want to do anything to encourage identification requests like yours, devoid of helpful information, so we will request that you return to the site to get your answer. These are mating Wheel Bugs, a species of Assassin Bug, and they are highly beneficial insects that devour quantities of harmful garden insects. We absolutely love the photograph.

Sorry. Additional info: These were located on my deck railing in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. We live in development that used to be an old orchard. Many of the orchard trees still exist and these photos were taken directly under a black walnut tree which catapillars recently ravaged. So, hopefully these little ‘assassin’ gems are getting their fill !!! Thank you for you help.

Letter 12 – WHERE ON EARTH IS IT????????


What on earth is this?
Thank you,

Hi Eric,
We really don’t want to do anything to encourage identification requests like yours, devoid of helpful information, so we will request that you return to the site to get your answer. These are mating Wheel Bugs, a species of Assassin Bug, and they are highly beneficial insects that devour quantities of harmful garden insects. We absolutely love the photograph.

Sorry. Additional info: These were located on my deck railing in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. We live in development that used to be an old orchard. Many of the orchard trees still exist and these photos were taken directly under a black walnut tree which catapillars recently ravaged. So, hopefully these little ‘assassin’ gems are getting their fill !!! Thank you for you help.

Letter 13 – Big Eyed Bug bites woman in San Francisco


Subject: Stabby the Bug
Location: San Francisco, CA
August 3, 2014 5:57 pm
My wife felt something biting her in bed and caught this guy red- proboscis-ed. We live in San Francisco, California (west Side, nearish the ocean). The bug is about 3-4mm and has a long proboscis which is why I named it “Stabby rather than “Bitey”. I can tell that it is not a bed bug and my best guess is a true bug maybe related to a minute pirate bug. These are known to stab people when their usual preferred prey is not around…but the head shape and the coloration look wrong to me. Thanks in advance!
I apologize in advance if this is a repeat but I realized I never actually verified the last one went through (which may not be something the site does, so sorry for that, too)
Signature: Hernan

Bug Eyed Bug
Bug Eyed Bug

Dear Hernan,
We find your letter terribly entertaining.  The first thought in our mind when we looked at the images was “my what big eyes you have”, and sure enough, our research on BugGuide revealed that this is a Big Eyed Bug in the genus
Geocoris.  According to BugGuide the habitat is  “On ground between clumps of weeds and sparse grass, especially in sandy places, in woods and near streams” and they are “generalist predators of small arthropods.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Big-eyed bugs are among the most abundant and important predaceous insects in many crops in the US.”  Based on that information, it seems highly possible that the individual that bit your wife came in from the outdoors.  As far as the bite is concerned, we are attempting to research other information on bites to humans, and we are relatively certain your wife was not mistaken for a small arthropod.  Additional information is available on Featured Creatures and the Cornell University Biological Control site.  It is sad, but it seems that whenever we write about the possibility of a beneficial insect biting or stinging a person, paranoid individuals attribute horrible reactions to the situation, much like the recent spate of comments we have received regarding the bites from Lacewings.  We like to maintain an open dialog and an interactive site, and we refrain from editing comments, but quite frankly, the internet has become the refuge of paranoid kooks who are trying to protect themselves, their children and their pets from every perceived threat in the world.  Thanks again for your wonderful submission with its excellent images.  It isn’t hard to imagine “Stabby” jabbing that impressive proboscis into tender flesh, but we maintain that is a rarity, and countless millions of encounters between people and Big Eyed Bugs go unnoticed.

Big Eyed Bug
Big Eyed Bug showing proboscis
Big Eyed Bug
Big Eyed Bug us a tiny insect.

Letter 14 – Possibly Hemipteran Eggs


Subject: Freaky eggs!
Location: Champaign, Illinois
October 11, 2012 11:01 am
Good morning, Bugman! I took some photos this morning of some eggs I found on a tarp hanging from the side of our house (the joy of renovations!). We live in the Midwest, not near any bodies of water, and fall weather has been setting in lately. Any ideas on what hatched on the side of my house? (My thumbnail included for scale.)
Signature: Laura

Unknown Eggs

Dear Laura,
We are practically hypnotized by the subtle pattern of light, shadow, color and texture in this lovely photograph.  Eggs can be very difficult to identify with certainty, especially eggs that were not laid on a food source.  Our first guess might be some Hemipteran, like a Stink Bug, and our second choice is some type of Moth Egg, like a Tiger Moth.  Either way, we don’t believe the hatchlings will infest your home.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for your time and sweet compliments on my photos!  *^_^*
Knowing my luck, it was probably a Stink Bug, hehe.  But our cats do enjoy alerting us to the wide variety of surprisingly diverse moth population, so I would not rule those out.  I’m very glad to hear that the likely bugs are the brave outdoorsy types, not the codependent infesting sorts!  ^_^
Thanks again!

Letter 15 – Unidentified Hemipteran Eggs


Challenge: Insect Eggs
I found these eggs outside today on this little branch. They’re quite small, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 inch in height. I live in East Tennessee (in the valley) and was wondering if you know what they’ll hatch into.
Caleb Wright

Hi Caleb,
Your letter came in around the time we had trouble with our old web host and in the transition, it got forgotten. Originally we contacted Eric Eaton and he agreed with us that these were Hemipteran Eggs, True Bugs, but neither he nor we recognize the species. Sorry for the long delay, but we just got a new letter for an egg identification and it prompted us to create a new egg page. Then we remembered your fascinating image.

Letter 16 – Unknown Eggs


These are apparently very ornate eggs of an insect. I’m told they’re not from butterfly or moth.They are magnified in the image (probably 15x). They were attached to a sedge, Carex hormathodes, high among rocks along the coast of Narragansett Bay in RI. I have never been able to figure out what they might be from.
Francis Underwood

Hi Frances,
We don’t recognize your eggs, but suspect they might be from some Hemipteran or True Bug. We are posting in the hopes that one of our readers might be able to assist you. We are also posting the date you printed on the photo, August 12, 2004, as that might be significant.

Letter 17 – Unknown Eggs, probably Hemipteran Eggs


Subject: Unknown eggs – distinctive formation
Location: Memphis, TN
September 17, 2012 8:32 am
These were on a passionvine leaf. I looked through all your egg photos and couldn’t find a match. I’ve been recording time lapse video of them, so maybe I’ll see what they are when they hatch.
Signature: Tim Doyle

Unknown Eggs

Hi Tim,
Eggs can often be very difficult to identify with certainty.  We suspect these are eggs of some True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera because of the barrel shape and double row arrangement.  Your eggs somewhat resemble these Stink Bug eggs on BugGuide.

Unknown Eggs


Letter 18 – Hemipteran from Canary Islands


What’s this beetle ??
Hi Bugman,
The attached picture was taken on La Gomera (one of the Canary Island near Morocco) early January this year. I found this beetle between the flowers on our hotel room’s balcony and I have no idea what kind of beetle it is. Can you help to identify. Thanks in advance
Andreas Timmermann

Hi Andreas,
This is not a beetle, but a Hemipteran, a True Bug. We are not sure of the species but believe it is a Seed Bug in the family Lygaeidae. Eric Eaton just provided this substantiation: ” Meanwhile, you are spot on with the Canary Islands Hemipteran. It is indeed a Lygaeid of some kind, maybe even Lygaeus sp., as it looks very similar to our U.S. milkweed bugs.”

Letter 19 – Hemipteran from Costa Rica


Hi, I’m trying to id this bug I photographed in La Selva, Costa Rica. I think its a cotton stainer but, not sure. I’m in need of the common and latin name. Many thanks bugman!!
Maresa Pryor
Lightwave Photography

Hi Maresa,
This is definitely a Hemipteran, but not a Cotton Stainer. We cannot answer your question, and we suspect this is one of the Coreid Bugs or Leaf Footed Bugs though its legs are not as robust as many species in the Family.

Letter 20 – Hemipteran Metamorphosis


bugs in Western Australia
Please tell me what they are doing and what kind of bug.

Hi Carla,
You have captured metamorphosis on film. The pink bug is the winged adult emerging from the black exoskeleton of the final nymph stage. This is some species of Hemipteran.

Letter 21 – Hemipteran Nymphs: Burrower Bugs?, Ebony Bugs? or other???


Little red guys near ant hills
Location:  Lake Forest, CA (South Orange County)
October 17, 2010 10:46 pm
We found these tiny guys hanging out around ant hills on a trail on a foggy day. They’re so small that at first I thought they were seeds, and I think the only reason we noticed them was because we were studying the ant hills. They were slow and varied in size. The biggest ones were about 1/3 the size of a lady bug. They seemed to cluster together but the ants did not seem to take any interest.
Signature:  Jason and Lizzie

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph

Hi Jason and Lizzie,
The identification of unknown Hemipteran nymphs from blurry photographs is a difficult venture, but the information you provided about the ant hill should prove very helpful.  Right now we are confident that your Hemipterans are in the superfamily Pentatomoidea, which is well represented on Bugguide.  The likeliest candidates are Ebony Bugs in the family Thyreocoridea (see BugGuide) or Burrowing Bugs in the family Cydnidae (see BugGuide). We have been unable to quickly locate any symbiotic relationships with ants.  Perhaps our readership will be able to uncover additional information since we must rush off to work for now.

Unknown Hemipteran Nymphs

Letter 22 – Hemipteran: Thasus neocalifornicus


What’s this? A number of these were inhabiting a mesquite tree here in Tucson on a pleasant summer day, about 110 deg.. Striking colors, length about 1 inch, with very long antenna that have a small disk about midway.

We wrote to Eric Eaton who identified this colorful Hemipteran as Thasus neocalifornicus (formerly T. gigas).

Letter 23 – Hemipterans from Costa Rica


Subject: Bugs in Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica
March 10, 2015 6:41 am
We saw these bugs on the side of the road in Manzanillo (Caribbean coast) in Costa Rica a few days ago (early March). I asked Tracie in Drake Bay as we did a tour with her but she said they are nymphs and without the adults around the chance of identification is slim. She told us to contact you. Any idea what they could be ? Thanks so much.
Signature: Sonia

Immature Hemipterans
Immature Hemipterans

Dear Sonia,
Tracie is correct, kind of.  Nymphs are often difficult to identify conclusively, however, these nymphs are very distinctive in color and markings.  Our initial gut instinct is that they are in the family Coreidae, and that they remind us somewhat of members of the genus
Thasus.  Our initial search did not provide any visual matches.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck.  Cesar Crash may be able to come to our rescue on this.

Immature Hemipterans
Immature Hemipterans

Thanks so much for your quick reply, Daniel.. Please do let me know if you find out more. We thought they were very distinctive too and find it all quite exciting.

Update September 17, 2021
Thanks to Cesar Crash of Insetologia who sent a comment that this appears to be a member of the genus Ouranian.  According to iNaturalist, Ouranian and Thasus are in the same tribe Nematopodini.

Letter 24 – Heteropteran Nymphs


Subject: Gathering of leaf footed bug nymphs
Location: Singapore
June 24, 2013 8:58 pm
Hi there, I visited your site, hoping to get some answers about a curious group of insects and I am so happy to share this picture. I think they are little leaf footed bug nymphs, planning to take over the world! Or that next patch of tasty flowers.
Signature: Melvin

Heteropteran Nymphs
Heteropteran Nymphs

Dear Melvin,
These might be Leaf Footed Bug Nymphs in the family Coreidae, or they might be Heteropteran Nymphs in some other True Bug Family.  We like the graphic quality of your gridlike photo.

Letter 25 – Immature Hemipteran


Unknown Beetle
Here is a beetle I’ve found in my yard. Sorry the picture isn’t very good but I was wondering if you can identify it for me. We live in Pequannock, NJ and it was around the garden. I’ve seen it maybe once before a year or two ago.

Hi Loretta,
You don’t have a beetle but a True Bug or Hemipteran. It is immature so it is difficult to be sure of the species.

Thank you for your quick response. In that case then, I guess if I don’t keep one in a jar, I may never know : ). Thanks for looking though. Your site is very interesting. I will show it to my children. It also might help me on my diet if I look at it on a regular basis! Loretta

Letter 26 – Immature Hemipteran from China might be Red Bug


Subject: beetles, China
Location: Qi Ao Mangrove Reserve, Zhuhai China
December 8, 2012 10:39 am
There does not seem to be much activity on your site but thought I would give it a try. Here is my puzzle, a nice red one.
Signature: Keith

Immature Hemipteran might be Red Bug

Dear Keith,
We are not certain what you mean by “there does not seem to be much activity on your site” because we update our site daily with at least two postings.  On days when we have more time, we have been known to make upwards of ten postings a day.  Yesterday, the day you sent your submission, we added four more postings to our site.  Those only represent a fraction of the identification requests and other submissions that we receive, but it the best our skeletal staff can accomplish.  We would urge you to visit our home page on a daily basis if you doubt our claims.  This is not a beetle.  Rather, it is an immature Hemipteran and it is a True Bug.  Immature nymphs can often be difficult to identify to the species level.  It might be a species of Red Bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae, and it looks similar to, but not identical to, this immature Fire Bug nymph we located on TrekNature that is found in China.
  It is also possible that it is in a different True Bug family, like the Seed Bugs or the Scentless Plant Bugs.  Our internet search did not turn up anything conclusive.

Hi Daniel
Thank you very much for the speedy reply. My students were fascinated by it … and it was very cooperative. Now that I have some “close” at least possibilities the students will have a look. They are urban students mostly so it is good to see them interested in nature … lizards, butterflys (14 species log on campus so far), etc. The class is photography and travel writing btw.
Yes, very sorry about the not commenting on updates. When I searched “Beetles of China” the site oponed Nov. 2010 and I didn’t read carefully. The site is brilliant and now dutifully bookmarked …
Keep up the good work!! …

That is quite understandable as our search engine is very specific.  Thanks for the explanation.

Letter 27 – Immature Hemipterans


friend or foe
Hi I have just come across your web site and wonder if you can help me identify these creatures. I live in the u k just outside Southampton and found these eggs and beetles on a fuschea leaf. The eggs were lime green turning transparent as they got near to hatching you can see the beetles inside. I hope you can enlarge the picture. Many thanks

Hi Maggie,
Despite your excellent photo, we can only give you a general identification. These are immature Hemipterans, True Bugs, not beetles. They are also some plant infesting species, so they are foes, not friends. They do not chew leaves, but suck juices, so the damage is not immediately apparent.

Letter 28 – Immature Hemipterans


Brazilian tiny bug
Location: Paraty-Brazil
January 9, 2011 2:22 pm
I wonder if you have an idea what these tiny little bugs could be, maybe nymphs, there were many on one leaf.
I found them in a shady part of the rainforest close to a river in the region of Paraty-Brazil.
Size about 3mm.
Thank you in advance!
Signature: Myriam

Immature True Bug

Hi Myriam,
These are immature Hemipterans, and they are probably True Bugs, but we haven’t a clue as to the family, much less the genus or species.

Immature True Bugs

Letter 29 – Immature Hemipterans from Argentina


Gabriel from Argentina with some weird bugs
Hi! I love this webpage! Lets see if you can help me with this: My parents just came back from their summer vacations and brought me some pictures from their trip. They stood about 10 days in Cordoba, Argentina in a little town called Tanti. My dad first confused this bugs with a sort a flower, but looking with more detail he noticed the flowers came to be nothing but dozens of insects eating the poor plant. Could you please tell me what are them?
Thanks, Gabriel from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Hi Gabriel,
These are immature specimens of some species of Plant Feeding Hemipteran. Hemipterans have sucking mouthparts, and plant feeding species suck the juices from stems, fruits and seeds.

Letter 30 – Immature Hemipterans from Costa Rica


colorful bunch of bugs in Costa Rica
Hi Bugman,
I recently moved to Costa Rica with a new macro lens and am loving taking pictures of all the strange and beautiful insects that are around here. This bunch of 8 colorful beetle-like bugs stayed in the same place and the same basic position for 2 days before moving on. I found them in Dominical, on the south Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the end of December. Have you seen these before? What are they? I was also wondering if you have any knowledge of a Costa Rica insect field guide or reference guide so I could learn more about the bugs I’m taking pictures of. Thanks!! Ben

Hi Ben,
All we can say for certain is that these beauties are immature Hemipterans or True Bugs. They will grow wings as adults. They might be Leaf Footed Bugs in the family Coreidae. We have no recommedations regarding an insect guide for Costa Rica.

Letter 31 – Immature Hemipterans from Oregon


Insect help
Any thoughts on what these might be? We are in Oregon, USA? Thanks so much for you help – I love your website!

Hi Chris,
These are immature Hemipterans. They are probably in the family Lygaeidae, the Seed Bugs. Possibly, they are one of the genuses that include Milkweed Bugs.

Letter 32 – Immature True Bugs from Brazil


Small red bugs
January 15, 2010
Found on an avocado leaf. The bugs appear to be “newborns”. Photos were taken with an iPhone and a small magnifying glass.
Parana, Brazil

Hatchling True Bugs

Hi Paschoal,
These are hatchling True Bugs, though we are unable to identify the genus or species, nor are we certain of the family.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in at least a family identification.

Hatchling True Bugs

Letter 33 – Indian Hemipteran


Metallic green bug
Hi folks,
Found this bug near a mango tree, and thought it was a beetle. Some gentleman on Flickr pointed out that this is not a beetle, but a true bug (Hemipteran). Going through your site reinforced that view. Could you tell which Hemipteran is this ? Its a very informative site on bugs, something I was really missing..great job folks ! This bug was photographed at Patna,India yesterday night. Picture of the bugs attached.Thanks,
Chandan Singh
GreenPower India

Hi Chandan,
Yes, this is a Hemipteran. We do not recognize it and will post your image in the hopes that one of our readers knows the answer. If we have time, we will try to research the answer.

Letter 34 – Newly Discovered Hemipteran from Borneo!!!


Back from Borneo
Just back from our 3rd trip to Borneo. Sabah, Eastern Malaysia still had rainy weather into June. Great for insects. While researching on the Internet, your site and this Nature Conservancy press release Google Image Result for /images/dscn1301.jpg came up. I photographed some great things. Great mimics. Hope they can be of some use……….
Chris Durniak
Chico, California

Hi Chris,
We received a very blurry image of this species back in January of 2005 and Eric Eaton believed it to be one of the Giant Shield Bugs. How exciting that it might well be a new species. Thanks for sending your photos and the links.

Letter 35 – Newly Hatched Hemipterans


What are these bugs?
These were found under a leaf on an ivy plant in our yard. We thought they were ladybugs because they were red like in these photos. Now (three days later) they are black and are migrating. What are they? Should we be afraid?
Ida and Richard

Hi Ida and Richard,
You have newly hatched hemipterans, True Bugs, from some unknown species. Your photo reveals some type of plant feeder. They use their sucking mouth parts to extract juices from plants. They are garden pests.

Letter 36 – Newly Hatched True Bug


Subject: Bug in my bathroom
Location: Tomball, TX
April 11, 2016 6:54 pm
Can you identify this? I’m a bugophile but I’ve never seen this one. I don’t know if I should just let it wander around in my bathroom/house.
Signature: Becky S

Probably Coreid Bug Hatchling
Probably Coreid Bug Hatchling

Dear Becky,
This is a newly hatched True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, and we believe it is most likely a Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae, but hatchlings can be very difficult to conclusively identify.

Letter 37 – Newly Hatched True Bugs from Singapore


Subject:  spider looking bug on curtain
Geographic location of the bug:  singapore
Date: 04/02/2020
Time: 05:18 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  i found this egg cluster on my curtain and there were a few bunch of eggs surrounded by insects with 8(?) legs and i’m scarred.
How you want your letter signed:  –

True Bug Hatchlings

These are newly hatched True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  Though there are some True Bugs like Bed Bugs and Kissing Bugs that will bite humans, most True Bugs are not directly harmful to people, though many are considered plant pests.  We cannot identify these True Bug hatchlings more specifically, but in our opinion, you have no cause for alarm.

Letter 38 – No, Hemipterans!


I was excited to find your site. It’s very useful and well done. Today I was looking at my apple tree and found these little guys on a leaf. Thinking that they are ladybugs I thought I would put them under a rose bush since it seems that a caterpillar tent has hatched right there without my knowing it until now. And there’s lots of aphids too. I looked up ladybugs and found that their larvae looks different than the little ones in this photo. Do you know what these bugs are?

Hi Anna,
You are correct, they are not Ladybird Beetles. They are True Bugs, Hemipterans. We can’t give you an exact identification. It is hard to identify the specimen in immature stage. 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.

Letter 39 – True Bug Hatchlings


Subject:  Weird spiders on hotel balcony
Geographic location of the bug:  Cancun, Mexico
Date: 12/07/2017
Time: 04:08 PM EDT
Found this earlier today, on the outside of the sliding doors to our balcony at a hotel in Riviera Maya, near Cancun Mexico. My daughter was playing outside here a bit before I noticed this. Couldn’t find much info on them. I assume the little pods are eggs? Thank you very much in advance!
How you want your letter signed:  Lucas

True Bug Hatchlings

Dear Lucas,
These are not Spiders.  They are hatchling True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  We are not even certain of the family.  We will attempt additional research on this identification.

Letter 40 – True Bug Nymphs on Satsuma


Subject: Red bodied bug on a satsuma
Location: Mobile, Alabama
May 8, 2016 5:23 pm
We found this group of what I assume are nymphs hanging out on one of our satsuma trees on 5/8/16. So far, just these guys. We don’the want to harm them if they won’the harm our citrus trees or garden. Any clues?
Signature: Lucinda F.

True Bug Hatchlings
True Bug Hatchlings

Dear Lucinda,
These are True Bug hatchlings in the suborder Heteroptera, and nymphs can be very difficult to identify conclusively.  We suspect they are a plant feeding species that and that they are taking nourishment by sucking fluids from your Satsuma.  They might be Bordered Plant Bug nymphs from the genus
Largus based on their similarity to this BugGuide image and this BugGuide image.

True Bug Hatchlings
True Bug Hatchlings

Letter 41 – True bugs



Dear Stat,
Without more concrete information regarding size and orientation of the stripes, vertical versus horizontal, it would be difficult to identify your bug. Wood boring beetles are often of the longhorn variety, and though they are not true beetles, the box elder bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) might be your culprit, but they eat leaves, not rotting wood. Rove beetles look like fireflies, but their wings are hidden. They might lurk around rotting wood, searching for soft succulent prey. Can you send a photo?

Letter 42 – True bugs


ll in cracks–and I’m sleeping much better knowing that neither bug is eating my house into sawdust. What a valuable service you perform for those of us who are bug-clueless!
Many thanks again.

Letter 43 – True Bugs hatch in Home


Subject: Alien Bug
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
May 12, 2014 11:22 pm
I found these little guys hiding on my music stand behind an orange envelope that had been sitting there for a few days. It was a little dusty but when I picked up the envelope I was of course, freaked out. These bugs were extremely small and they moved very slowly. They look big in the picture but were probably as small or smaller than a grain of rice. Thank you bugman 🙂
Signature: Nikki

True Bug Hatchlings
True Bug Hatchlings

Hi Nikki,
These are hatchling True Bugs, but we cannot tell for certain if they are predatory Assassin Bugs or plant feeding Leaf Footed Bugs.

Letter 44 – Two True Bugs from Australia


Subject: bug unidentified
Location: Victoria, Australia
December 30, 2013 1:11 am
My name is Ivan, i live in Victoria, Australia , recently they stared to build a house behind my home, since then these unidentified bugs have migrated to my backyeard.
There all over my windows and trying to get into my house, i have googled this unidentified bug and can not find anything on it, there are similar ones but not the same. I got pest control to come over ande see the bugs but they told me they were Springtail bugs because they have two antenas when he left i googled this Springtail bug and it doe not look like it at all.
I have taken photos and measured two of them a small one and a large one, the sizes are the smallest one 3mm and the larger one is 6mm.
Please help with identifing this bug. I dont want this bug to hurt my family especially my 5 month old daughter.
Signature: Ivan

Unknown Nymph
Unknown Heteropteran Nymph

Dear Ivan,
All three images you submitted are True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera, and they are definitely NOT Springtails.  Two of your photos appear to be the same species and they are immature.  Due to their small size, we are speculating that they are either Dirt Colored Seed Bugs in the family Rhyparochromidae, or Chinch Bugs in the family Blissidae.  It may be difficult to determine the exact species as they are immature specimens.

Unknown Heteropteran Nymph
Unknown Heteropteran Nymph

The third photograph appears to be a different species, and it most closely resembles the Stink Bugs and Shield Bugs in the superfamily Pentatomoidea, but due to its small size, we cannot be certain.  It is a winged adult.  Compare your but to this North American Shield Bug Sphyrocoris obliquus that is pictured on BugGuide.  We are posting your photos and tagging them as unidentified.  We will attempt further research if time permits and perhaps one of our readers will be able to contribute some helpful information.  In our opinion, both species may present a nuisance due to their large numbers, but we don’t believe either species poses a direct threat to your family.

Unknown True Bug
Unknown True Bug



Letter 45 – Unidentified True Bug Nymphs from Thailand


Subject:  Devilish looking bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Thailand, Koh Tao
Date: 09/18/2017
Time: 04:36 AM EDT
Hi there!
I put word out into our community here on Koh Tao to identify this bug but no one seems to know. There were 4 bugs on the floor and about 8 in a group on my fly screen a bit hidden. Outside i found a dead dragon fly + big beetle. They didn’t move at all and as i swept them outside once on their back their legs moved. What are these things? Thank you so much
How you want your letter signed:  Naomi Klein

True Bug Nymphs

Dear Naomi,
These are True Bug nymphs in the suborder Heteroptera, but we do not recognize the family.  We did not locate any matching images online, so we will post them as unidentified True Bug nymphs.

Thank you guys! Nobody seems to know what these are. Are true bug nymphs harmless for humans and pets?
Kind regards
Most are harmless to people and pets.  Blood-sucking Conenose Bugs are an exception, but these are not those.

Letter 46 – Unknown Hemipteran Nymph from New Guinea


little beauty
September 14, 2010
I don’t have any questions, but thought you might like these pictures.  Honestly, pictures do not do this guy justice.  He is fluorescent  blue, green, purple … amazing!
Eastern Highlands
Papua New Guinea

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph

Hi Sharon,
We can’t help but wonder if you don’t have any questions because you know what species this is or because you don’t care what species this is.  This appears to the the immature nymph, probably an early instar, of a Hemipteran, probably a Stink Bug in the family Pentatomidae or a Shield Bug in the family Scutelleridae.  We hope we are able to correctly identify it using the internet.

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph

Letter 47 – Unknown Hemipteran Nymph from Thailand


Do you know some information about it?
Location: seedling
July 4, 2011 11:09 pm
Hello, I wish to ask you about this insect.I saw it clinging onto my seedling. It looks like to have the eyes on its back.
If you know its name, please tell me about it.
Signature: sincerely

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph

Dear sincerely,
As much as we would like to identify this creature, you haven’t really supplied us with anything useful for us to begin a search.  A seedling is not a location.  We like to have a state or country indicated in that field of our form.  There is a dearth of useful information in your email.  You didn’t even provide us with a name for the seedling.  We are quite curious about this immature Hemipteran’s unusual antennae, but again, we cannot even begin to research this identification before you supply us with helpful information.

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph

Sorry for not suppling formation
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
July 5, 2011 10:59 pm
Dear bugman, I apologise for not supplying more information about it.
Here it is. The seedling name is ”Millettia brandisiana Kurz”(scientific name). And it not only can be found on the seedling but also on the ”Millettia brandisiana Kurz” tree. If you want more information, please let me know what you need for searching.
Signature: Sincerely

Unknown Hemipteran Nymph from Thailand

Hi again Sincerely,
Thanks so much for supplying us with additional information, including your location and the plant.  Since this is a nymph, it might look very different from the adult form of the insect.  Have you noticed any adults on the plant?  It is very interesting that the very broad antennae of this insect look just like the new leaves on the plant.  The insect may have evolved to survive by mimicking its food plant.  Though we still don’t have an answer for you, it is great to have the additional information.  Sometimes difficult identifications take time, and occasionally, even years pass before some identifications are made.  You may want to consider posting a comment to this posting.  That way you should be notified if anyone writes in sometime in the future with a new comment.

Unknown Hemipteran from Thailand

Letter 48 – Unknown Immature Green Hemipterans on Cedar


Looks like a green box elder bug
June 10, 2009
I found these green bugs crawling all over one post on my cedar fence and I can not seem to identify them. I don’t believe they’re termites but I’d like to know if anyone can identify them.
Northern Illinois

Unknown Hemipteran Nymphs
Unknown Hemipteran Nymphs

Dear Judd,
We are continuing to try to catch up on old mail from during our holiday, and when we opened your photo, we became very intrigued.  These are immature Hemipterans, the insect order that includes True Bugs and other sucking insects like Cicadas and Aphids.  We haven’t a clue what your insects are, and we hope our readership will be able to provide an answer.

Letter 49 – Unknown Immature True Bug from South Africa


Funny KNP Bug
Location: Kruger National Park, Southern area
February 27, 2011 4:35 am
Good Day,
We were in KNP on 19/02/2011, driving on the Pabeni road towards skukuza when this fellow appeared in the car. I only had a few seconds and manage to get two makro shot before it rushed off. THus far no one can tell me what it is.
Please help.
Signature: Marius Smit

Immature True Bug

Hi Marius,
We needed to first research the location of Kruger National Park, which we now know is in South Africa.  This is an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but beyond that, we haven’t a clue.  Often the immature stages of an insect’s life cycle are not well documented, and many times, especially with regards to insects in remote locations, the immature stages are completely unknown to science.  Hopefully we or our readership will have some luck trying to research what species this immature nymph belongs to.

Immature True Bug

Letter 50 – Unknown Immature Seed Bugs: Possibly Whitecrossed Seed Bugs


Unidentified Insect
Location:  NE Tucson, AZ.
July 26, 2010 11:04 pm
Over the past couple of days, I have witnessed countless millions of the attached bugs migrate from the north and slowly make their way toward the south. I have been trying to identify them but am having trouble. People who have lived here for 30 years or better have never seen anything like this. Therefore, I find it interesting to be able to see this, but would like to know what kind of insect it is.
I can provide whatever information you require, I am just very curious what these things are and why they are moving by the millions through the desert.
Another site told me today that they are some kind of Nymph of a “True Insect”, but he couldn’t tell me anything more about it.
I hope you can help.
Thank You,
T. Cook

Unknown Immature Seed Bugs

Dear T. Cook,
Alas, after a quick search of BugGuide, we are unable to tell you anything new.  These are Immature True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  We will try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he is able to provide additional information.

Eric Eaton Responds
July 27, 2010
Lygaeidae is my best guess.  Maybe Neocoryphus for a genus?  Lots of adults seen recently anyway.

Thanks Eric,
We will link to the BugGuide page on the Whitecrossed Seed Bug,
Neacoryphus bicrucis.

Letter 51 – Unknown True Bug from Australia


What eats that bug and what does that but eat
Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 12:41 AM
I am wondering whether Red back spiders have anything to do with my bug, especially if they eat red back spiders (will be very happy if they do) or if red back spiders eat my bug (will need information on getting rid of the bugs if that’s so).I would also like to know if they are native to Australia or not.
Tasha Storey
Melboure Australia (my backyard in Cheltenham)

Unknown True Bug from Australia
Unknown True Bug from Australia

Hi Tasha,
We are having a bit of difficulty identifying your species of True Bug.  We are not even certain if the family is a Cotton Stainer in the family Pyrrhocoridae, a Largid Bug in the family Largidae, a Seed Bug in the family Lygaeidae, or possibly a Scentless Plant Bug in the family Rhopalidae.  We will continue to research and hopefully a reader can provide an answer if we cannot.  We are certain that it will not feed on Red Back Spiders and they have no relationship to the spiders except in coloration.

Letter 52 – Big Eyed Bug from Malaysia


Hammerhead bug?
February 7, 2010
I have no idea what is it< a bug or beetle? Anyway, it has hammerhead shark like head. Thanks for your ID. Enjoy…
George Chew Kok Wah

Big Eyed Bug

Hi George,
IN a very general sense, this is a True Bug in the superfamily Pentatomoidea, which includes Stink Bugs and Shield Bugs, but we are uncertain of the family or species.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this matter.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks very much for your prompt reply. Hope other reader can ID it exact family or species. Enjoy…
George Chew

Karl identifies another mystery insect
With those big, widely spaced eyes and distinctive antennae I think this is probably a Big-eyed Bug (Geocoridae). It could be in the genus Geocoris, which has numerous species and is global in distribution. It looks quite similar to the European species, G. erythrocephalus (links below) but I was unable to find any conclusive photos from Malaysia or Southeast Asia. The Geocoridae are predatory bugs and are considered a beneficial insect, with a fondness for a variety of agricultural pest insects. K

Letter 53 – Unknown True Bug from Gambia


Subject: The Gambia

Location: Sami Pachonki, The Gambia, Africa
September 22, 2014 3:12 am
Found this sort of hemipteran looking bug in my garden one evening. He must be covered in some kind of fungus, but i’ve no idea what it is!
Signature: Dee

Unknown Immature True Bug
Unknown Immature True Bug

Dear Dee,
We agree that this looks like a Hemipteran, but we can be even more specific in our guess.  This appears to be a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, and it appears to be an immature individual.  Though it appears to be infested with fungus, we would also like to propose another possibility.  There is at least one species of Heteropteran that has a nymph that has a sticky exoskeleton that attracts lint and debris, effectively camouflaging the insect.  That species is the Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug.  We hope we are able to provide you with a more concise identification that is not based on pure speculation.

Unknown Immature True Bug
Unknown Immature True Bug

Thanks Daniel!
that makes since, it was tracking my every movement even though i was a few feet away. Next time i see it i’ll invite it into my hut to eat all the critters running around in my rice bag roof.
thanks again!

Letter 54 – Unknown True Bug from Mexico


Subject: Unidentified flying insect in Cancun, Mexico
Location: Cancun, Mexico
February 14, 2014 10:09 pm
Seen this insect in pools and crawling around walls. Haven’t actually seen it flying but it looks
like it does. Please help identify it. Thanks!
Signature: Bran

True Bug
True Bug

Dear Bran,
The best we are able to provide at this time is a general identification.  This is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but we have not had any success in providing a species identification.  It appears as though it might be in the family Lygaeidae, the Seed Bugs.  It is not represented on BugGuide which is devoted to North American species.

Thanks very much for the information Daniel !
Kind regards

Letter 55 – Unknown True Bug Nymph


Subject: Bug on my front door
Location: Thomasville, Georgia
May 30, 2017 4:27 pm
Hi! I found this bug today…May 30, 2017, in southwest Georgia. Just curious why it might be. Someone suggested an assassin bug but I can’t find a picture that looks like it. Ha just saying !
Signature: Kathryn

Unknown Nymph

Dear Kathryn,
This is not an Assassin Bug, but it is an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera.  We will attempt a species identification.

Letter 56 – Immature Hemipterans


Identification Request: Beetles on side of refrigerator
Location:  Pacific coast of Mexico
January 6, 2013
Hi Daniel,
I found this circle of beetles on the side of my fridge this morning. I’ve looked a lots of photos of beetles on Google Images, but haven’t found any that look like these.  I live on the Pacific coast of Mexico and have an organic farm, mostly coconut and fruit trees. I try to grow as much food as I can, for personal consumption but there are so many insects that it’s very difficult to grow veggies organically. I don’t remember having ever seen these bugs before.
I appreciate your help.

Hatchling Hemipterans

Hi Dobie,
Please use our standard form each time you send a request as it contains all the necessary information we need to make a posting.  These are not beetles.  They are hatchling Hemipterans or True Bugs.  There is not enough detail in your photo for us to provide a family or species identification.

Letter 57 – Another Thasus neocalifornicus


Bug found under Tree
Hi – We found this bug under a eucalyptus tree in Arizona and couldn’t identify it. My six year old daughter really wanted to know what it was. Any ideas? Thanks!
Boyd Burkhardt

Hi Boyd,
This is the second photo today of Thasus neocalifornicus. That might be too much for your daughter to pronounce but we don’t really have a common name for this True Bug. The group is the Coreids or Leaf-Footed Bugs. She can call it a Leaf-Footed Bug. It is immature and the adult will grow wings.

Letter 58 – Australian Bugs


identify a bug?
hi, i’m just wondering if you could identify this insect from since i was a kid i just called it a stink bug and im wondering if it is or not i have been trying all kinds of searches and i cant seem to find it your welcome to use the picture if you find an interest the seed pods it is photographed on are from a wattle tree or an acacia in south australia along a creek line
thank you

Hi Sandie,
First I must appologize for taking so long to reply. Somehow your letter got lost in the black hole that is our incoming mailbox. You have two bugs, and that is a correct term, in your photo. At the top, partially obscured is a Coreid, or Leaf Footed Bug, called Tip Wilters in Australia. I located a picture on this page that looks like your specimen, identified as a Crusader Bug, Mictis profana. This bug is dark brown in colour and with a diagonal white cross on its back like the Crusader’s shield. Its hind legs are thick and strong. At the bottom is an immature Shield Bug, Family Pentatomidae which we call Stink Bugs in the states. Sorry, we are not familiar with your species for an exact identification. We did locate this great Australian Stink Bug page.

Letter 59 – Balinese Bug


Bug on the beach in Bali
Hi there,
My son found this insect on the beach in Bali, Indonesia last week. Please see the attached picture. He would like to know what it is as he had grown attached to it.
Meily Meyers

Hi Meily,
We wrote to Eric Eaton again for this one and he quickly responded: “It is another Hemipteran, maybe even an adult of the nymph that you send an image of earlier. Reminds me of something in the Scutellaridae, as the scutellum (the normally large, triangular segment between the wings) is greatly enlarged and rounded, covering the entire abdomen and giving it a beetle-like appearance.”

Letter 60 – Biting True Bug from South Africa


Subject: Second attempt
Location: Gauteng, South Africa
November 10, 2016 5:22 am
I submitted an identification request with subject “It’s a biter!” on 26 September and have not yet received a response. I was also initially not able to include my own photo but have subsequently managed to get two more photos of the same bug – please see attached.
The one I saw today (there seem to be quite a few of them around here in Gauteng, South Africa) was smaller – about 0.7 inches. It’s look a little like a stink bug but I don’t think it is…
Thanks in advance!
Signature: Letani

True Bug
True Bug

Dear Letani,
Your observation that this resembles a Stink Bug is quite accurate as this is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but it is not an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae nor is it a Bed Bug in the family Cimicidae, the groups best known for biting humans.  Your image lacks critical sharpness, but we will still attempt a more specific identification for you.

Letter 61 – 2 bugs I collected working out in the field


I’m having trouble with these 2 bugs. The first one I thought was a seed bug, it has 4 antenna segments, but I don’t see ocelli anywhere. It’s wings aren’t fully developed so I can’t look at the veins or anything.

It has large front femora shaped kind of like crustacean claws.. it’s white, almost clear. I’ve included pictures. They are both rather tiny bugs so I had to shoot the pictures of them through a dissecting microscope.

Since both of your images are of immature Bugs, exact identification is rather difficult. The bug you think is a Seed Bug, we believe to be of the family Corimelaenidae, the Negro Bugs. Borror and Delong write: “The Negro Bugs are small (3 to 6 millimeters in length), broadly oval, strongly convex, shining black bugs that are very beetlelike in appearance. The scutellum is very large and covers most of the abdomen and wings. These insects are phytophagous and are fairly common on grasses, weeds, berries, and flowers.” Lutz adds: "…Tibia with two or more rows of distinct spines.” Essig places Negro Bugs in the Family Cydnidae. He writes: “The Common Negro Bug, Thyreocoris extensus … is a very small, shining black bug 3 to 4 mm. long slightly elongated, convex with cream or orange line on the sides of the elytra.”
The white nymph with the crustacean claws we believe to be an immature Ambush Bug, Family Phymatidae.

Euphorbia Bug
really scary looking bug
Thanks for ID’ing the two bugs I asked about yesterday. I have another bug which might be another immature assasin bug. It has spiky protrusions over most of it’s body, but the head shape and beak are similar to the Reduviidae. The antennae are interesting though. The next to last segment is completely flat and wider than all the other segments in the antennae. Also it has no wings, but that could just be because it’s immature. It was found in a grasslands area.
The other is a beetle, I think it’s either a flea beetle or a case-bearing leaf beetle. It’s hind femora are enlarged, but it also has yellow patches on the elytra where most flea beetles have solid colored elytra.
Thanks again,

Hi Dave,
We agree that your nymph looks like an immature Assasin Bug, but we are unsure of the species. As you know, identification guides often only show adult forms, which can differ greatly from the nymphs. We are more inclined to believe it is a young Coreid or Leaf-Footed Bug because of the size of the rear legs.
Ed. Note: We just received a tip from an expert who gave us the following information.
“Was just surfing the web when i came across your web page and figured I might mention/ correct what you guys were thinking might be an assassin bug. This is indeed a coreid, as you thought, and more specifically Chariesterus antennator, sometimes called the Euphorbia bug. Hope that helps. You can view the adult on this site

Letter 62 – Giant Sweetpotato Bug Nymphs


North Florida Insect
I’ve tried to ID these insects, at first I thought it was one of the Redviidae but the head doesnt look right and I have not had much luck finding anything that looks just like these They wereq clustered on wild Nightshade plant( which is eaten) but I have not actually seen these eat the plant. The youngest are very orange and about 1/4 inch, except for the head they do resemble young wheel bugs, as they molt they get darker. One that just molted was light yellow, but I believe it darkened during the day because there were no yellow insects that night. Final size is about that of a thumbnail. Could not get a closer, in-focus picture.
Chris Bittle
Tallahassee, Fl

Hi Chris,
We contacted Eric Eaton and he agrees this is an immature Coreid Bug, but could not be more conclusive as to a genus or species. Eric writes: “I think I collected an adult once, but am still trying to figure out what it is! “

Update: (01/07/2006)
While surfing to find information about Leptoglossus occidentalis, I found this note in a webpage. I am almost sure this is genus Spartocera. Hope it helps.
USDA, taxonomy of Heteroptera

Letter 63 – Flag Footed Bug from Trinidad


Hi Bug Man,
I stumbled across your website while trying to identify this “bug”. We found it on our passion fruit vine in Trinidad. His colours are quite striking. We’ve only seen him once… but not because we squashed him! Any help will be appreciated. Sincerely,
Tim Bahula

Hi Tim,
This amazing creature is a Flag Footed Bug, Anisocelis flavolineata, or a very closely related species. They are found in Central America as well.

Letter 64 – Immature Giant Sweetpotato Bugs


Unidentified Orange Insect
Location:  Daytona Beach Florida (1 Mile From Coast)
October 2, 2010 3:29 pm
I found these guys on a weed in my Daytona Beach yard … It is early October … They appear to be a nymph … probably some sort of the truebug category … I found a picture that id it as coreid nymph … when I goggled that … the images looked very different … I will send some photos … I need to know if these guys are harmful to home or garden … I gave up tomatoes,squash, and cucumbers as these attracted pests … I’m happy with the herbs and peppers in the garden and they tend to stay pest-free … these insects are on a weed away from the garden … so I’ve not disturbed … Please, if you could, advise me if I should remove them … thanks … Tany
(Below is the link that shows someone else’s photo of ”the bug”
Signature:  Tanya Joiner

Giant Sweetpotato Bug Nymphs

Hi Tanya,
We agree that the link you provided is a match to your specimens, and we wish we had noticed you provided a link prior to our scouring BugGuide for the answer, because we did locate the Giant Sweetpotato Bug,
Spartocera batatas, on BugGuide after some searching.  At the time we posted the nymphs that you found on our site, they were unidentified, but now Julieta, an expert in Heteroptera with the USDA, has provided a genus identification for us and that is Spartocera.  According to BugGuide, the Giant Sweetpotato Bug is:  “Non-native, found in Surinam and some Caribean islands. First reported in the continental US in Florida in 1995” which makes it an Invasive Exotic species.  We believe your specimens may appear so red because they are freshly molted, meaning their color will darken.

Giant Sweetpotato Bug Nymphs

Letter 65 – Immature Largid Bug


another bug in Payson
Hello Bugman,
as we regularly spend more time in our mountain cabin in Payson, AZ, I find my interest in bugs getting heightened, with much help from my bug-loving girls! We saw a beautiful bug this past weekend, its body is almost iridescent blue and it’s got a red triangular spot on its body, and part of its legs are red as well as part of the underside of its body. I had to hold it for quite long for a friend to take a good macro picture and it got impatient and gave me a nip, ouch! We put it in a bug jar to take a picture then released it. Can you help us identify this bug please?
Thank you,
Janis in AZ

Hi Janis,
We believe this immature Hemipteran is one of the Stink Bugs, perhaps a predatory species, but we cannot find a match on Bugguide. Eric Eaton lives in Arizona and we are hoping he can assist us in an identification. Here is Eric’s identification: “Ok, the “stink bug” is actually the nymph of a largid bug, family Largidae, probably Largus cinctus. The adults look very different, being blackish, but heavily spotted with orange flecks, and orange borders around the front wings and the thorax. I have found them to be common at lights at night (haven’t seen any this year, yet), and on yuccas (at least near the Willcox Playa).”

Letter 66 – Mating Flag Footed Bugs: Anisoscelis flavolineata


Bug passion in Costa Rica
Hi Bugman,
I saw this pair while traveling in Costa Rica, and thought it very fitting that they were doing their thing on a passion-flower. Should make a nice addition to your bug-love page, and I’d also love to know what kind of bugs these are. Thanks!

Hi Peter,
What a gorgeous image of mating Flag Footed Bugs,
Anisoscelis favolineata or another closely related species in the genus.

Letter 67 – More Fan Mail


Just wanted to say, your site is excellent! I was looking for what turned out to be a Wheel Bug, a picture of which was sent in by a boy in Pennsylvania, the same day I saw the bug in central Texas! The strength of your site seems to be a combination of three important factors:
1) seasonal bugs seem to make themselves conspicuous at the same time of year over a broad range, making them a curiosity to many people simultaneously,
2) the popularity and effectiveness of your site is such one of these curious people will actually act on their sighting and
3) your dedication and accuracy feed back to the curious, reinforcing your site’s popularity and effectiveness. Very Nice!

Thank you so much Mike,
Your letter really made my day.

Letter 68 – Mystery: Unknown Water Bug from South Africa


Please Identify
April 30, 2010
Found this on a beach trying to scuttle back into the water
Durban South Africa

Water Bug

Dear Antonio,
We really wish your photos had a higher resolution because we cannot really see any details that would assist identification.  We are not sure what family this Water Bug belongs to, but we are certain it is an aquatic true bug.

Hi Daniel
May 18, 2010
Sorry it has taken so long I have managed to retrieve the high res pics of the water bug – hope this will be more appropriate.
Kind Regards – Toni

Water Bug

Thanks so much for resending these images Antonio.  We just may update this old letter as an announcement which will place it at the top of our homepage where our readership can take a stab at identification.

Water Bug

Karl has a theory
May 19, 2010
Hi Daniel and Antonio:
This bug looks very much like a giant water bug or toe-biter (Belostomatidae), except for those legs and that elevated posture. However there is one primitive genus (Limnogeton) with only four representative species, all African as far as I can tell, that may be the one you are looking for. The most widespread and common species appears to be Fiebers Giant Water bug, L. fieberi. Most of what follows was gleaned from an online book entitled “The Evolution of Social Behavior in Insects and Arachnids” (Jae C. Choe and Bernard J. Crespi,  1997). The Limnogeton are considered to be the most primitive of the Belostomids and differ from all the rest in several ways. They are obligate predators of snails, they apparently hunt more by walking than swimming, and they do not use their forelegs to capture their prey as Belostimids typically do. The forelegs are long and dexterous but they don’t have the massive musculature that is normally seen in Belostomids, which typically feed on more active prey items which they capture in a mantis-like fashion. According to Choe and Crespi, “Limnogeton seem to recognize their prey when the mollusks are creeping very slowly and even when they are still. Limnogeton fieberi approaches snails with its beak extended. The stylets are then inserted into the body of the snail causing it to release its grip if attached to a plant or other substrate.”  Furthermore, the middle and hind legs are not built for swimming – they do not have the paddle-like expansions. Since it is an effective snail predator Limnogeton is being considered as a potential biological control agent in the fight against schistosomiasis carrying snails. I was able to find only one online image of Limnogeton, in the “Field Guide to Insects of South Africa”. Unfortunately, the picture of L. fieberi (spelled Limnigeton) is not great and the brief write-up doesn’t match very well with biological information I found elsewhere. I hope I am on the right track and that this helps a little. Regards.  Karl

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