Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This insect is actually so common that it is the representative image in Borror and DeLong's text above the excerpt on the family Lygaeidae. This insect is the small milkweed bug, which is common in the United States and Canada. These insects are hemimetabolous, as are all Hemipterans, so they have incomplete stages of development. Their nymphs are commonly red. As the name would suggest, milkweed bugs feed on the milkweed plant and its seeds. Milkweed gains its name from the milky white sap produced when injured or pruned. The insects are brightly colored because, like Monarch butterflies, they feed on milkweed and so the bad tasting chemicals in milkweed are concentrated in their bodies. Rather than being a pest, these insects are important for regulating the population of milkweed, which is too toxic for other organisms to consume. There are a couple other species in this genus. One, Lygaeus turcicus, can be distinguished from Lygaeus kalmii by the "t" shaped red lines on the head, and extra red coloration on the back. Lygaeus turcicus also seems to lack the white spots and border at the wing apices.

Hemiptera; Heteroptera; Lygaeidae; Lygaeinae; Lygaeus kalmii
Common Name: Small Milkweed Bug

The family Lygaeidae is known to contain "seed bugs". The family used to contain many more subfamilies, but now only containes Lygaeinae, Orsillinae, and Ischnorthynchinae. Seed bugs feed almost exclusively on seeds, but may also feed on the plant tissue. There are about 75 species from this family in North America.

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