5
$\begingroup$

I saw these red insects in Taipei near XinBeitou MRT station in the last week of April 2017, around lunch time. They were fairly active and would keep checking each other out with their antennae for a moment and then move on to the next. What struck me was the wide range of sizes and development in the groups. I didn't notice any feeding or mating that I could recognize, just a lot of walking around and checking each other out.

There are plenty of birds around (this is quite a green area) but I didn't notice any interest by birds in eating them.

I've also included a screenshot from google maps so you can see the location and the trees growing in these concrete structures.

The body of the largest individual is probably 2.5 centimeters long.

Beitou bugs 1

Beitou bugs 2

Beitou bugs 3

Beitou bugs 4

Beitou bugs 5

Beitou bugs 6

Beitou bugs 7

Beitou bugs 8

across the street from XinBeitou station

$\endgroup$
7
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Charles photos of 25mm bugs taken by a ~6mm cube camera in my cellphone. I don't know how they do it! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 14, 2017 at 15:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Oh, haha, my mistake. I suppose that's what I get for assuming! And that's a shame.. I've been trying to visit China for almost a year now. A friend of mine says Taiwan is a perfect middle ground of USA and China, so that's truly where I want to go! Best of luck to you :) $\endgroup$
    – user22020
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh since this is not Pyrrhocoridae I deleted my comments. $\endgroup$
    – user24284
    Sep 15, 2017 at 0:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GerardoFurtado Thanks for your help, rostrum tutelage, and for reminding me that I had a species identification question I'd been meaning to ask. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 15, 2017 at 1:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I wish all species-ID questions were like yours here. $\endgroup$
    – user24284
    Sep 15, 2017 at 1:14

1 Answer 1

5
$\begingroup$

I'm fairly certain these true bugs belong to the species Leptocoris vicinus, and carry the nickname of "soapberry bugs", which is specific to the subfamily Serinethinae. They're quite common in urban areas of Southeast Asia, which coincides nicely with where you encountered them.

Also, you had mentioned,

There are plenty of birds around (this is quite a green area) but I didn't notice any interest by birds in eating them.

Soapberry bugs, as well as many other types of insects, are able to freely congregate in large numbers, and in such exposed places, due to their bright coloration. Having such a bright color may indicate to some predators that the prey in consideration is toxic, a phenomenon referred to as aposematism.

enter image description here source

enter image description here source

And then, here's a map of their distribution, with Taipei holding marker #37. (source)

enter image description here

enter image description here

An interactive version of this map can be found here.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ wow Wow WoW WOW! A map of bugs, how cool! The bugs in the two photos certainly look like the same thing. Can you add the source of those images to the answer? Are these still nymphs? I noticed that in the photo in your first link the nymphs look just like this except for the striped pattern. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, they are still nymphs. And, the sources I used for these images were chosen because they were of the best quality from what I could find, however, they aren't from distinguished sources. Instead, I chose them because they originate from people who live in Taiwan. With that in mind, in combination with the distribution of this insect, suggests the species. There does exist a Leptocoris augur, which is often confused with L. vicinus, however, the most noticeable difference between the two is coloration, with L. augur demonstrating more of an orange, as apposed to a true red. $\endgroup$
    – user22020
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ Ya, I see now that the images are widely circulated. OK I think we can consider this one case almost closed. Thanks for your help and speedy answer! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh And as for the image you're referring to, the one that shows stripes on the abdomen of the nymph -- those are the variety of this species located in Australia. "Thanks for your help and speedy answer! " -- You're quite welcome :) $\endgroup$
    – user22020
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.