Tag Archives: boxelder bug

Australian Red Eye Bug

3 Apr

Okay, so sometimes life is stranger than fiction.  I just did the post about the boxelder bugs my friend back in the States found and today on my little tree in the backyard (while stalking a praying mantis) I saw a bug that, by all accounts, was a twin of the boxelder.  The problem? I live in Australia and as far as I know there are no boxelder trees (or ash or maples) here.  So, of course it had to be a completely different bug, right?  Weird.  So my curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out what it was. Here’s a close up of the bug.

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It took me a minute to figure this one out.  I had it pegged as some sort of a Eucalyptus bug and then stumbled across one of my favourite insect pages www.brisbaneinsects.com (not sure why I don’t just go there first) and found out that I had spotted what’s known as the Red Eye Bug.  Well, actually it’s called Leptocoris Tagalicus, but I promised no fancy stuff on this blog…for the most part.

Here’s the clincher: This bug is in the SAME family as the boxelder!  The Rhopalidae family, also known as the scentless plant bugs.

It’s name is fitting considering its eyes are actually red, if you zoom in.  They are found on plants (and trees apparently)  and feed on the flowers and seeds of certain ones.  There are two types of these bugs, the Red Eye Bugs and the Ground Red Eye Bugs.  From my research, they say it is hard to distinguish between the two.  But, as you probably guessed, the Ground Red Eyes can be found (drum roll) on the ground where they feed on ripe, fallen seeds.  Since this guy was on my tree, I’m assuming he is just the Red Eye Bug.  (That it’s a ‘he’ is also an assumption 😉 )

So, there ya go.  Cousins found on two separate continents within a couple of days.  And had it not been for my shy praying mantis, I may have never found it at all.

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The Boxelder Bug

1 Apr

A friend of mine back home, Randy Wallace  (United States) is an avid fan of covered bridges.  He runs a Facebook page chronicling his adventures in ‘bridging’ and posts about everything from restorations, to the history, to the technical information regarding how they were built.

You can find his Facebook page here ——> https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Indiana-Covered-Bridges/271207486230890

Recently he posted a picture of some bugs he found on one of the bridges and was concerned if they were in fact damaging the bridge, since there were numerous holes around, or if they were harmless; a legitimate concern for a bridge enthusiast.

Well, the insects in question are called Boxelder bugs.

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Photo credit: Randy Wallace

The Boxelder bug is a North American true bug and can commonly be found on or near, you guessed it, the Boxelder tree.

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Photo credit: http://www.nativeohioplantlist.com

Although pretty to look at, unfortunately these guys get a  bit of a bad rap.  At the onset of the fall season, these bugs will usually congregate in large numbers on the sides of the trees, houses or structures, facing the sun.  This is normally when people become aware of them since they can sometimes find their way into houses through cracks in an attempt to find a suitable winter lodging.  Although they don’t cause any damage to houses or structures, the sheer numbers of these guys is enough to turn most people off.

The bugs later emerge from their hibernation sometime around April or May — just in time for the opening of the boxelder tree buds.  They make their way back to the trees where they feed mostly on seeds and foliage and the females begin laying their spring eggs.  Although they prefer the boxelder tree, maple and ash are other favorites.

Sometimes mistaken for stink bugs, these bugs are actually part of the family called Rhopalidae, or ‘scentless plant bugs’.  Although they are able to release a pungent compound to thwart potential predators.

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