Shiny black bug with white edging

2014 March 29

Here’s an attractive little true bug that I found crawling on the outside wall of the garage on May 19, 2013

Its jet-black body with white trim running around the edges and down the legs is quite elegant, don’t you think?

It turns out to be the distinctive and unique White-Margined Burrower Bug, Sehirus cinctus

Kind of unusually, this bug actually has been seriously studied. For example, here is a page devoted to studying how they take care of their young. It seems that the bugs overwinter as adults in the leaf litter (as we might guess from my finding this adult in mid-May). After mating, the female digs a burrow for her eggs, and then when they hatch the mother feeds them with developing seeds of plants in the mint family[1]. She apparently takes care of them through at least their first couple of molts before they disperse.

They live all the way from Canada to Texas, and according to the Texas A&M Extension Service,

“Despite its sometime alarming numbers, this tiny bug is not harmful and will not affect the growth or development of flowers.”

It seems that, since they mainly go after the seeds of plants that are not being grown for their seeds, they don’t damage any aspects of the plants that we care about.

[1] Something I did not know until just now: Teak is in the mint family! As in, the tree that makes the dark, rot-resistant wood that is in great demand for boat building, is in the same family as those little, strong-smelling plants that grow down in our little swamp next to the house. Go figure.

One Response
  1. Carole permalink
    March 29, 2014

    Handsome bug and interesting info. Doesn’t look like an insect that would care for its young.

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