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Delicate Red/Black Plant Bug

Lopidae sp.


a Miridae, Lopidae, found on Lotus rigidus, photo © by Mike Plagens

This adult plant bug was found on developing seed pods of Desert Rock Pea (Lotus rigidus), at Camp Creek east of Carefree, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. 23 March 2012. Length is about 6mm.

Miridae -- Plant Bug Family

Plant Bugs of many kinds can be found on virtually every kind of plant. Plant Bugs belong to the true bug family, Miridae. ‘True Bugs’ because entomologists restrict the term bug to a subset of all insects, whereas the lay public tend to lable all invertibrates as bugs. Many plant bugs have a restricted host range, feeding on just a few select and closely related plants. Other species of plant bugs are more diverse in their selection of food plants.

Mirid bugs have specialized, piercing-sucking mouthparts that they insert into plant tissues and then pump plant fluids up through a narrow channel much like a person using a straw. Their feeding tends to be concentrated at the most nutritious parts of the plants namely the developing seeds/fruit. When these aren't available they will feed on new, growing shoots. Mirids have good eye sight and are quick to move if they sense that their movements are being targeted. Adult plant bugs have fully developted wings folded over their dorsum and can take flight in an instant when threatened. This Plant Bug with its red and black color might be distasteful to birds - or possibly it is a mimic of some other red and black insect that has a strong chemical defense.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 27 December 2012.