Milkweed Bug, Soldier Bug Spilostethus pandurus
Family: Lygaeidae. Subfamily: Lygaeinae
Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkDescriptionSpilostethus pandurus
is a species of medium sized (body length 13 mm) ground bugs. Easily recognized by a pattern of red bars and dots on a black to grey background. A white spot on the light brown wing membrane is characteristic.
Pale sanguineous in colour. A spot present at inner margin of each eye. Pronotum with two large obscure ochraceous spot on basal area. Scutellum with a small spot
near apex of clavus. A transverse fascia present on corium, pro-sternum, abdominal segmental margins and with stigma spots. Membrane black with a central white spot and two crescent white markings on membranal suture. Labium reaches 2nd coxae. Legs black, femora distinctly spined beneath.Distribution
Southern Europe, southern Asia including China and India, tropical and subtropical Africa including South Africa.Habitat
There are 8 species in South Africa distributed thru various veld types, usually grassland, where it occurs on flower heads of yellow daisies. Common and widespread.Biology
Feeds on various milkweeds (Asclepias
), related Calotropis
, and on indigenous Solanum
The insect possesses two dorsolateral prothoracic glands, the secretion of which has been proven repugnant and unpalatable to predators. They can make use of the cardiac glycosides present in the food-plant and incorporate them in their defense gland secretion. The bug seems also capable of synthesizing such chemical principals if not readily available in the food-plant juices.
Eggs of Spilostethus pandurus
are broadly oval and pearly white, becoming purple just before hatching. Females lay up to 10 egg batches underneath fallen leaves or flowers. Each batch contains 50-60 eggs. The nymphs are a conspicuous yellow-orange to orange with brown markings.Agricultural Importance
Minor pest of sunflowers, eating the green seeds. Also eat cotton, citrus, sorghum, millet, mangoes, sweet potatoes, apricots and maize.
© Bush Brat
Kruger National Park, Olifants camp