White Bug Nymph Sucking My Blood

2014 April 30

I was out walking the dog on July 7, 2013, and found this mostly-white “true bug” nymph, suborder Heteroptera. I could tell it was a nymph, because it didn’t have its wings grown in yet.

It was only about a quarter-inch long, if that, and was easy to catch because it was willing to stand on my hand on the way back to the house.

I don’t normally think of true bug nymphs as being particularly hairy, but this one seemed to have quite a bit of hair.

The most unusual thing about it was that, as I carried it back to the house, I started feeling a burning, itching sensation where it was standing. Looking at it more closely, I could see that it was actually piercing my skin. I’d never had a true bug do that to me before.

It wasn’t just poking me, either. It was clearly getting blood – the proboscis wasn’t red all along its length in that first picture!

According to v belov on BugGuide, it is most likely a nymph of one of the bugs in the genus Deraeocoris. Of the 64 known North American species in this genus, at least two of them are known to be predatory, and in fact are useful for pest control. The others may or may not be predatory, and I’m seeing some suggestion that they may be omnivorous – the Wikipedia page for Deraeocoris ruber mentions that they feed on “nettles and small insects”

So at this point, I still don’t know if it was actually attracted to drinking my blood, or if it was just a non-finicky plant-juice feeder that would simply suck juice out of whatever surface it might be standing on. At any rate, it was a bit of a surprise. I hope that this isn’t an example of a new species of blood-sucking insect evolving, we have more than enough blood-suckers already.

4 Responses
  1. April 30, 2014

    That’s a new disease vector right there! Let us know if your leaves start yellowing, or your bark sloughs off uncontrollably.

  2. Carole permalink
    April 30, 2014

    I like bugs, but yuck, that would make me a little squeamish.

  3. May 2, 2014

    Well, my bark still looks OK, but I won’t know about my leaves for a couple of weeks yet, until after the snow melts. I’ll keep an eye on myself, though.

  4. M Dominic Roman permalink
    September 15, 2015

    I killed it it was in my hair now im itchy

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