Lygaeidea & Pyrrhocoroidea

Ant-mimicking Seed Bug I
Ant-mimicking Seed Bug II
Brown Seed Bug
Black and White Seed Bug 

Darth Maul Bug - Spilostethus hospes  

Family Lygaeidae 

This page contains pictures and information about Darth Maul Bugs that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Body length 10mm
Yes, we know this is the Large Milkweed Bug. We like to call it Darth Maul Bug.
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Adult                                                                        Last instars                                                                Young instars  
This Large Milkweed Bugs are red in colour, with black pattern. Obviously this is the warning colour pattern to the predators. Their antennae and legs are black in colour. This species is common in Brisbane wherever there is the Milkweed plants. 
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We found different red bug species on the Milkweed plants. This Large Milkweed bug, with black patterns on orange colour, is large in size. Those different bug species just stay together peacefully sucking the juice from the Milkweed plant and seeds. 
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The bug feeds on the Milkweed seed. Notice in the 1st picture above, a bug with its sucking mouths (stylets) inserted into the seed. They are specialise on seed feeding, using their sharp proboscis to pierce the hard seed coat and suck the nutritious sap from the inner tissues.
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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 individuals.
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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.
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Milkweeds include Red-headed Cotton Bush (Asclepias currasavica) and Swan Plant (Asclepias fruiticosa and Asclepias physocarpa). We have more pictures and information of those host plants in the Wanderer Butterfly and Australian Crow Butterfly pages.     
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The nymphs are bright red shiny black in colours. Different nymphal stages can be found on host plants during mid summer.  

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. 
4. A taxonomic revision of the Lygaeinae of Australia (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae) - Slater, A., University of Kansas science bulletin, v. 52(8,i.e.9) p. 301-481, 1985. 

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Last updated: May 06, 2012.