Every now and then pest managers have to deal with a pest infestation in customers’ gardens. One of the more common of these infrequent invaders is the red and black seed bug. Would you be able to identify and red and black seed bug?

Common name: Red and black seed bug

Scientific name: Melanerythrus mactans (Family Lygaeidae)


Description: Small red, black, and white true bugs, up to 10mm long, usually found on lawns and outdoor areas. Nymphs are red with black legs, antennae, and wing buds.

Geographic distribution: Found across most of Australia.

Habitat: Lawns and gardens, feeding on a wide variety of plant seeds and fluids.

Pest status: A minor pest of mung beans, soy, cowpeas, and cotton. Some Lygaeids (Chinch bugs), including the Rutherglen bug (Nysius vinitor), do bite despite their usual diet being seeds, but the black and red seed bug is entirely harmless to people despite the scientific name. The bright colouration most likely advertises a foul taste and odour to potential predators.

Treatment: No insecticides are specifically registered to kill this insect. General use insecticides containing contact insecticides such as cyfluthrin and other synthetic pyrethroids are effective, but the usual care should be taken around pets, ponds, and vegetable patches.

Daniel Heald, technician and entomologist.

Images produced with kind permission from Daniel Heald.