I was walking one morning last December in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park along a pathway I have walked many times in the past 30 years, and I saw something I don’t recall ever noticing in the past. The ground beneath a stand of trees was covered with pretty red bugs!
They were lively, moving about in clusters and clumps like ants attracted to a sweet. But there was no discarded food on the ground or anything else that I could see that would attract a bunch of bugs. The first local I ran across was an elderly man, and I figured he’d know what they were doing. But he seemed a bit hesitant at first to talk about them. Then he told me they enjoyed reproducing. On closer inspection, this appeared to be the reason for the clusters and clumps. I asked what they were called. His answer: red bugs.
In the past I would have had to wait until I got back home and had time to get to the library to find out about the pretty creepy crawlies, but all I had to do was Google. This is what I found:
1) They are Pyrrhocorid Bugs and there are more than 300 species.
2) Some species are cotton pests and they create stains that are difficult to remove.
3) They eat fallen leaves and other decaying material on the ground.
4) Some studies have shown that when they are fed paper products and some types of tree resin they will produce abnormal offspring.
5) They go by a variety of names in the tropics — red bugs and fire bugs and Spiderman bugs (for their beautiful colors) and love bugs and orgy bugs (for other reasons).
If you double-click on the photo above, you can see these guys and gals up close. They have very red eyes, like the eyes of white rabbits. (Be sure to use the “back arrow” to get back to the post.)