Cotton Stainer

This brilliant red and black insect looks a lot like a red stink bug. It is in fact a “cotton stainer”, Dysdercus suturellus. These insects used to be great pests of cotton (they were named for their habit of staining cotton an indelible yellow brown), but now, due in part to improved pest control and in part to a reduction in cotton production in Florida, they are more pestiferous towards fruits (especially oranges, tangerines, and papaya) and ornamental plants like hibiscus.

Cotton stainers have been seen in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Alabama, Georga, and South Carolina, but they are most common in southern Florida and Cuba. There are four very similar species across its range; an identification key may be found here.

Adults are approximately 3/4″ long, with a bright red thorax and crossed black or dark brown wings. I love their beady little red eyes!

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