Tasmania – Red Bark Bugs

2014 January 15

Out in my parent’s woodpile, there was a log that was just old enough that the bark had gotten a bit loose. So I peeled away a piece of bark, the way that one does, and found a huge number of these bugs:

They were all sizes and ages, ranging from tiny little guys up to black-and-red mature bugs that were about a centimeter long.

The majority of them looked to be the nearly-grown nymphs. I know that these are true bugs because of their long, but only four-segmented, antennae; the shape of their heads; and the way that their wings lay on the abdomens of the adults.

Here are two of the adults mating, by the way.

In Michigan, the plant-feeding true bugs almost all drink sap out of living plants, I don’t think I’ve seen them in dead wood like this. I expect that these are probably eating fungus growing in the wood. I doubt that they are predatory, because there were just too many of them – predatory bugs in these numbers would have eaten everything else, and then started in on each other. If you scroll down to the “true bugs” section on this page about soil insects of New Zealand, there are some similar pictures of “bark bugs” that are probably related. It says that they suck juices out of fungus, so that’s probably what these were doing, too.

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