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Large Milkweed Bug - Spilostethus hospes  

Family Lygaeidae 

This page contains pictures and information about Large Milkweed Bugs that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
 
Length 15mm
 
The Large Milkweed Bugs are red in colour, with black pattern. Sure this is the warning colour pattern to their predators. Their antennae and legs are black in colour. 
 
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We found two red bugs on the Milkweed plants. This Large Milkweed bug, with black patterns on orange colour, larger in size. The other, we call them Small Milkweed Bugs, with no pattern on wings and thorax, little bit smaller in size. The two different bug species just stay together peacefully sucking the juice from the Milkweed plant seeds. 
 
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The bug feeds on the Milkweed seed. Notice in the 1st picture above, a big with its sucking mouths (stylets) inserted into the seed.
 
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The red and black patterns on their back is a warning to the would-be predators that they are toxic. However, the patterns on their back can be vary quite a bit in different individual.
 
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All insects we found feeding on Milkweed plants have some sort of warning patterns. They included the Wanderer Butterflies and the Milkweed Aphids.
 
 

Reference:
1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p502, Plate 3W.
2. Specimen Image Index - Insect Reference Collection Database - ICDB, Western Australian Department of Agriculture, 2006.
3. 黑斑長椿象 Spilostethus hospes (Fabricius, 1794) - 六足王國─台灣的昆蟲 Insects of Taiwan, 2008. 

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Last updated: January 09, 2009.