4-Coloured Bug - ? sp.

Family Lygaeidae 

This page contains pictures and information about 4-Coloured Bugs that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Body length 16mm
The bug is colourful, with red head, brown thorax, yellow wing-covers and black wing tips. Its abdomen is bright orange-yellow with red tip. The bug is eye-catching when sitting on green plants. 

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On early Jan 2009, we found one in Ford Road Conservation Area, it was wandering around and feeding on food plants.  
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Above picture shows the bug sucking juice from a plant new shot. Notice the plant tip is wilted.

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Two weeks later we visit the same place, on the host plants, we found many of them feeding in groups, some were last instars and most were adults. They were quite a number of mating pairs. 
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End January must be their mating season. 
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The host plant sap is milky, which is believed toxic and taste terrible to birds and mammals. The bugs might store those toxic materials in their body, becomes toxic to the predators too. The bugs' bright body colours is a strong warning message - "I am toxic, don't eat me". 

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One week later, end Jan 2009, we went back there again and found that there were many group of young instars on different host plants.
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In some groups of instars, we noticed there were one or two adult bugs wandering around. We were not sure if they were the instars' parents and doing the guarding jobs.   

Host Plant

Milk Vine
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Marsdenia sp. (?M. lloydii), Family Apocynacea
We found this Milk Vine in a dry creek valley in Ford Road Conservation Area. There were many of them. This is a climber plants with latex milky sap. 
Besides this 4-Coloured Bug, we found a Crow Butterfly caterpillar also feeding on leaves of this plant.   
Thank to Robert Whyte for the ID of the host plant.

1. True Bugs - family Pyrrhocoridae - by Nick Monaghan, lifeunseen.com.
2. Marsdenia lloydii P.I.Forst - PlantNET, Botanic Gardens Trust. Sydney, Australia, 2008. 

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Last updated: February 04, 2009.