|Pyrrhocoridae ~ Red Bugs|
This small family is represented in the United States by only one genus and a handful of species. Dysdercus species are about 7 mm in length and tend to be colorful. Color alone wouldn't be enough to bring enough attention for a little bug like this to have a common name, let alone two of them. The most common species does not occur in our area: the most "red" of the red bugs, the Cotton Stainer (Dysdercus suturellus). This is the insect that gives the family a bad reputation, as it feeds not only on ornamental and citrus plants, but on cotton. It can become quite numerous on cotton crops, where its feeding introduces a fungus that stains the cotton, hence the name. Also, that particular species is quite red in color and if the nymphs get caught up when the cotton is harvested, their bodies produce a red color. The Cotton Stainer is very common in Florida but does not occur as far west as Texas.
That explanation aside, the two species I've seen in Austin are nameless relatives. Dysdercus mimulus is not as stunning as its notorious cousin, but is still attractive. Not very common, it is also a rather nervous bug and will flee quickly at the sight of a camera. The shape and size of D. mimulus is very reminiscent of some members of the Rhopalidae family, but the color is distinctive.
The other species is an elegantly colored brown insect, Dysdercus obliquus. Again, it does not seem very common, but is easy to recognize by its markings.