Red Bug from Bete Gris

2015 September 12

On July 12, 2015, we went up to Bete Gris Beach, on the east side of the Keeweenaw Peninsula. It was a nice day, and this is one of the few proper sandy beaches in the area[1]. Anyway, we spotted this bright-red bug that was willing to stand still enough on my hand and arm for pictures.

I had some initial difficulty locating it on BugGuide. It looked a bit like the Pattern 3 specimens in the genus Taedia, except that those all have two prominent black spots on the shoulders, a more hunchbacked appearance, and a less-brilliant red color. Plus they are mostly recorded on BugGuide as being found in Ohio and points south, not up here.

On further investigation, I think a better match is Coccobaphes frontifer, some of which look almost exactly like my specimen, right down to the colors on the legs and the long, white tips on the antennae.

These appear to be a standard plant bug, sucking juices from a variety of plants (although, the way this one kept holding its proboscis, I wasn’t so sure that it wasn’t thinking about sucking my juices.) Anyway, the nymphs look to be even redder. Given how visible the color makes them, I strongly suspect that they have chemical defenses against being eaten.

[1] Most of the Lake Superior beaches tend towards being rocky. Sometimes extremely rocky. In fact, just down the road from Bete Gris[2], there is a beach that is almost completely composed of a shelf of submerged stone.

[2] Bete Gris means “Gray Beast”. Nobody is quite sure what gray beast is meant by this, but I’m sure it made sense to whoever originally named the area.

4 Responses
  1. September 12, 2015

    Thanks for sharing those photos. My wife found a red bug in the baby car seat some time ago, panicked, and smashed it because of her suspicion that it was a bedbug. Upon looking at it with a microscope, it didn’t look much like a bedbug. I submitted to bugguide, but they refused to identify mutilated bodies. It does look a little like yours

    The proboscis is what suggests it might be related to yours, and the wing stubs on mine suggests it might be a immature form of yours (matching the photos on bugguide).

    Thanks for helping me solve my mystery!

  2. September 15, 2015


    Well, just from the color it could be the same thing, but it is pretty badly mashed. Still, these are evidently fairly common, so it is a good possibility.

  3. September 27, 2015

    At the Fiesta Island dog park, we see zillions of these things at different times of the year.

  4. October 13, 2019

    How can I get rid of these little critters ? I have them everywhere outside front !

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