Sonoran Desert Bugs

Among the distinguishing features of bugs are the mouthparts. These are modified into an elongate proboscis that can be pierced into the food object and through which liquefied food is ingested. Adult of most species have wings although many are wingless and more-or-less sessile. Immatures resemble the adults but do not have wings (late instar immatures may have wing buds). Plant feeders, predators and even blood suckers are included in this order. There are thousands of species inhabiting the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. This guide shows only a select few.

Say's Stinkbug
Chlorochroa sayi
 © by Mike Plagens

Emerald green with snowy spots. Outline in orange and an orange spot at tip of scutellum (triangular plate behind thorax). More info

Conchuela Bug
Chlorochroa ligata
 © by Mike Plagens

Dark brown to nearly black. Outline in orange. Feeds on developing buds and seeds. More info

Creosote Stink Bug
Dendrocoris contaminatus
photo © by Mike Plagens

Rusty brown in shades similar to the host plant, Cresosote Bush (Larrea tridentata). Smaller than other stink bugs. More info

Spined Stink Bug
Loxa flavicollis
© by Mike Plagens

Large green stink bug (roughly pentagonal in shape) with lateral spines behind head. More info

Brown Stink Bug
Holcostethus sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Medium-sized bug with a grainy texture to the color. Occurs especially on trees and shrubs with developing seeds. More info

Green Stink Bug
Acrosternum hilare
© by Mike Plagens

All-green, pentagonal bug found on wide variety of trees and plants, usu. those with developing fruit or seeds. More info

Red-shouldered Stink Bug

Red on the margins of the pronotum can be faint or else expanded all across the anterior margin into reddish bar. Base color green or brown. More info

Harlequin Bug
Murgantia histrionica
 © by Mike Plagens

Pentagonal shape intricately marked with bright yellow and/or orange on black. On mustard and capper plants. More info

Painted Stink Bug
Bagrata hilaris
 © by Mike Plagens

A non-native bug recently transplanted from Afica or Europe to Southern California. It could spread eastward into the Arizona Sonoran Desert. More info

Rough Stink Bug
Brochymena parva
Pentatomidae, Brochymena, © by Mike Plagens

These bugs often hide on dark scaly bark of the trees or shrubs that feed them. There are several Brochymena species. More info

Narrow Stink Bug
Mecidea sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Pale brown or tan stink bug that is more slender than pentagonal. May be encountered on grass species. More info

Negro Bug
Corimelaena sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Small black bugs marked with some orange appearing like beetles due to enlarged scutellum. Common on desert tobacco. More info

Seed Bug
Nysius sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Small brown or gray bugs abundant on grasses and weeds with seeds. A number of similar species. More info

Milkweed Bug
Lygeaus kalmii
 © by Mike Plagens

Sometimes gregarious red, black and white bugs on milkweeds and other plants in seed. Often in tandem. More info

Charcoal Seedbug Bug
Neacoryphus lateralis
 © by Mike Plagens

Sometimes really abundant red & black bugs of late spring to fall. On seeding plants. More info

Redcoat Seed Bug
Melanopleurus sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Dressed like a British Soldier and not at all obscure as it inhabits composite inflorescences. More info

Dirt Colored Seed Bug
Pseudopamera sp?
 © by Mike Plagens

Rather small and often hidden under rocks or leaf litter. Enlarged femur on first pair of legs. More info

Bordered Plant Bug
Largus sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Large bug mostly dark marked with bright orange around border and on underside of abdoment. Common on plants with maturing seeds. A couple of similar species. See nymph lower on this page. More info

Bordered Plant Bug (nymph)
Largus sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Metalic blue with orange triangle. Immature stage, and thus wingless, of Largus shown above. More info

Orange Fiddleneck Plant Bug
Plagiognathus moerens
 © by Mike Plagens

Small, brightly colored, active bug in flower clusters of orange fiddleneck. Many similar bugs found on wide variety of plants. More info

Creosote Bush Plant Bug
 © by Mike Plagens

Small, green and golden brown, active bug on new growth of Creosote Bush. Many similar bugs found on other Sonoran Desert plants. More info

Globe Mallow Bug
plant bug, Miridae, © by Mike Plagens

Pale green, very small, about 2mm, and quick-moving. Texture is like that of the mallow leaves. More info

Red Plant Bug
© by Mike Plagens

Delicate red and black plant bug found on developing seeds and flower buds of various plants. Several similar species. More info

Wolfberry Plant Bug
Miridae sp.
Plant Bug on Lycium © by Mike Plagens

Small, about 3mm, mottled green and black designed to hide on buds/stems. This one found on Lycium. More info

Clouded Plant Bug
Miridae © by Mike Plagens

Small bug with speckled markings and enlarged antennae segments. An inhabitant of mesquite trees. More info

Ant Mimic Bug
amazing ant mimic that is really a bug © by Mike Plagens

Even an Entomologist will look twice before realizing that this is not an ant! More info

Mesquite Coreid
Mozena sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Large tan or dark brown bug with sharp, flared points behind head and enlarged hind legs. Young are greenish. More info

Leaf-footed Bug
Leptoglossus zonatus
photo © by Mike Plagens

Large bugs with conspicuous flags on legs and white zigzag on back. Feeds on developing fruits. More info

Prickly Pear Leaf-footed Bug
Narnia sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Gray-brown bugs often in pairs on prickly pears. Medium-large size. More info

Leaf-footed Bug
Acanthocephala granulosus
© by Mike Plagens

Very large, conspicuous bugs most often on mesquite pods. Bright orange tips to legs and antennae set off by all black body. More info

Cactus Bug
Chelinidea vittiger
© by Mike Plagens

Gray-brown bugs on prickly pears with light-colored, geometric lines across wings. Leave brown circles on cactus pads. More info

Squash Bug
Anasa tristis
squash bug © by Mike Plagens

Brownish bugs with gray speckles. Found on vines of squash, melons etc. No "leaf" on hind legs. More info

Leaf-footed Bug
Catorhintha sp.
© by Mike Plagens

This one lacks the leaf-like expansion on the last pair of legs. More info

Leafhopper Assassin Bug
Zelus renardii
 © by Mike Plagens

Spindly-legged predators often on flowers and new growth foliage. Prey sticks to glue on legs. More info

Four-spurred Assassin Bug
Zelus tetracanthus

Four spurs on the thorax and usually a gray color. Hunts for prey on new plant growth. More info

Orange Assassin
Pselliopsis sp.
photo © by Mike Plagens

Boldly colored predator of caterpillars and other bugs. Legs sharply banded with black rings. More info

Bee Assassin
Apiomeris flaviventris
 © by Mike Plagens

Warning colored in black, red and yellow. Beak pierces bees and other insect prey. More info

Ambush Bug
Phymata sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Powerful, predatory bug looks like part of the flower and grabs bees and butterflies when they visit. More info

Kissing Bug
Triatoma rubida
Triatoma rubida © by Mike Plagens

Emerge from rock crevices at night to take blood from rodents and humans. Mostly black, narrow head with beak and large eyes. More info

Damsel Bug
Nabis sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Slender, gray-brown bugs with a noticeably elongated head and snout. About a cm long. Predators on plant feeding insects. More info

Minute Pirate Bug
© by Mike Plagens

Very small predators of even smaller insects! Commonly inside blooming flowers with thrips. More info

Toad Bug
Gelastocoris oculatus
© by Mike Plagens

Hops along on damp sand adjacent to riparian streams blending in perfectly. Predaceous. More info

Lace Bug
Corythucha sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Very small bugs feeding esp. on leaf undersides. Wings and prothorax of stiff, lacy chitin. More info

Stilt Bug
Jalysus sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Small, delicate plant feeding bugs with very long, slender legs and a distinct knob at tip of antennae. Pale brown to nearly transparent. More info

Tobacco Stilt Bug
© by Mike Plagens

Very slender, delicate plant feeding bugs with very long, slender legs and a distinct knob at tip of antennae. This one has a dark, prickly thorax. More info

Scentless Plant Bug
Arhyssus ?
Rhopalidae © by Mike Plagens

Small, non-descript bug. Knobs at ends of antennae. Does not release scent when disturbed unlike many other similar bugs. More info

Bed Bug
Cimex lectularius

Red to brown bugs in dwellings. When starved very flat and can hide in narrow cracks. No wings. Feeds nocturnally on human blood. More info

Water Strider
Aquarius sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Glides on surface film of calm waters and preys on insects trapped there. Long spidery legs. More info

Small Water Strider
 © by Mike Plagens

Similar to water striders, but smaller. Common on surfaces with floating algae. More info

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Creosote Bush Tree Hopper
Multareoides bifurcatus
 © by Mike Plagens

Small hopping bug normally confined to young twigs of Creosote Bush, Larrea tridentata. Double point on pronotum. More info

Creosote Bush Tree Hopper
Centrodontus atlas
 © by Mike Plagens

A dippled texture and a tough pronotum. Normally rests concealed within creosote bush twigs. More info

Mesquite Thorn Hopper
Platycentrus acuticornis
 © by Mike Plagens

Double-thorned plant hopper hugs stems to appear as a part of the plant. Feeds on mesquite sap. More info

Ambrosia Treehopper
Entylia turrita
photo © by Mike Plagens

Pale brown or tan with lighter striations. Close associate with Canyon Ragweed or possibly other composite plants. More info

Seep Willow Plant Hopper
Oeclidius sp.
photo © by Mike Plagens

Small hopping bug with gossamer wings. May be found on Baccharis, plants of the composite family. More info

Spittle-Bug Nymph
Clastoptera sp.
nymph clastoptera spittlebug photo © by Mike Plagens

Immature stage, a nymph, of the adult bug at right is embedded in froth of mucousy sap waste. More info

Clastoptera sp.
Adult clastoptera spittlebug photo © by Mike Plagens

Small plant hopper able to launch into a phenominal jump. Very small, less than 3mm. False eye at posterior. More info

Sooty Planthopper
Poblicia fuliginosa
photo © by Mike Plagens

Large dusky black and red hopper found on desert broom and other plants. Disappears like a rocket! More info

Smoketree Sharpshooter
Homalodisca liturata
 © by Mike Plagens

Brightly colored hopper found on various desert trees and shrubs. Also on wide variety of cultivated shrubs. More info

Chilopsis Sharpshooter
Neokolla sp.
photo © by Mike Plagens

Small (few mm's) hopping insects found mostly on Desert Willow. Brightly colored; pointed shape. More info

Mesquite Leafhopper
Ponana ?
photo © by Mike Plagens

Pale brown and speckled with small brownish spots. Small jumping insect can fly also. More info

Bursage Leafhopper
Graphocephala cythura
 © by Mike Plagens

Turquoise leafhoppers about 4 mm long on bursage or other composites. More info

Flatid Planthopper
Ormenis saucia
photo © by Mike Plagens

There are a number of similar looking flatids in the desert looking like little moths that can jump and fly. Snowy white or pastel shades of blue or green. More info

Apache Cicada
Diceroprocta apache
 © by Mike Plagens

Often heard, more rarely seen. Emerges from soil during summer months after feeding on roots. More info

Potato Psyllid
Bactericera cockerelli ?
jumping plant louse on wolfberry photo © by Mike Plagens

Minute flying-jumping insect, less than 2mm. Two pairs of clear membrane wings. This one on wolfberry. More info

Oleander Aphid
Aphis nerii
photo © by Mike Plagens

Rather formless, yellow-orange, blobs with black, spindly legs. Walking infrequently. Found on members of milkweed and dogbane plant families. More info

Brown Ambrosia Aphid
Uroleucon ambrosiea
photo © by Mike Plagens

Port wine colored blobs appearing in colonies on bursage, brittlebush and other sunflowers. Spring mostly. More info

Wire Lettuce Aphid
Uroleucon bonitum
Uroleucon Aphididae © by Mike Plagens

Slight smaller and darker with less red. Occurs on new growth of Stephanomeria. More info

Mustard Aphid
Mustard Aphid on Brassica tournifortii photo © by Mike Plagens

Usual-looking sac of a bug, greenish-gray, distinguished usually by the host plant. More info

Psyllid on Cottonwood
G. sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Small, largely sessile plant-sucking bugs that can, if threatened, jump. Usually in groups, More info

Hackberry Gall Psyliid
Pachpsylla sp.
photo © by Mike Plagens

Small, nearly sessile bugs that are normally concealed inside galls. This species specific to hackberries. More info

Cottonwood Petiole Gall Aphid
Pemphigus sp.
photo © by Mike Plagens

Whitish aphids concealed inside a swelling on the leaf-stem of fremont cottonwood. More info

 © by Mike Plagens

The wintering stage of the whitefly appears as a white speck usu. on the underside of an evergreen leaf. More info

Cottony Bugs
 © by Mike Plagens

Sedentary bugs resembling miniature cotton balls on twigs of catclaw. More info

Wax Scale
Icerya rileyi
 © by Mike Plagens

Little resemblance to an insect. Immobile, nearly leggless and covered in thick coating of wax. More info

Lac Insect
Tachardiella fulgens
Lac Scale on Coursetia photo © by Mike Plagens

Hard, armoured bugs in colonies on twigs of Coursetia. No legs or wings visible. Look like globs of dry sap. More info

Cochineal Scale
 © by Mike Plagens

On prickly pears and chollas appears as cottony masses with red blob bug inside. More info

Meally Bug
photo © by Mike Plagens

Flat, mostly immobile bugs with meally wax coating. Ants almost always in attendence. More info

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2020.