Firebugs

This has been the third time in about three weeks that I have come across something wonderful in nature. Previously it was lady birds, then a snake and now Firebugs.

I have seen Firebugs before and I named them sex bugs (because every time I saw them they looked like they were engaged in coitus) . Though I have just educated myself to write this blog.

red-and-black-bugs

Photo taken in 2008, the first time I saw a Firebug. The bugs are mating which, can take from 12 hours to 7 days.

Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus). Family Pyrrhocoridae.

Pyrrho-coris =  red insect. a-pterus = without wings. But they have brachypterous wings. Brachyptery means, that the wings are very reduced and non-functional, in other words they can’t fly. Occasionally there are long winged firebugs (macropteer), They have a striking red head with black markings, also noticeable are the black triangles and the two large black round spots.

Firebugs generally mate in April and May. Their diet consists primarily of seeds from lime trees and mallows. They can often be found in groups near the base of lime tree trunks, on the sunny side. They also eat dead insects and sometimes even living ones.

They can be seen in a tandem formation when mating which can take from 12 hours up to 7 days. The long period of copulating is probably used by the males as a form of ejaculate-guarding under high competition with other males.

The firebug lives throughout the Palaearctic from the Atlantic coast of Europe to northwest China. It has also been reported from the USA, Central America and India. It has been reported as recently expanding its distribution northwards into mainland UK.

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I had found these Firebugs eating a medium sized flying insect as I got off my bus and walking to my afternoon classes. What caught my attention was that they were in a small group swarming over something, I had never seen this behavior before. I grabbed my camera out of my bag with its 50mm lens (again) and started shooting.

My 50mm lens is coming in handy, It is small lightweight and so easy to carry. At F3.5 it is not supper fast though.

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7 thoughts on “Firebugs

  1. I can see we shall have you hooked on macro wildlife soon………. in some ways its the research and discovery that drives me. Bugs are great!

    • Macro wildlife is a bit like still life. you need to get the lighting right, close and still and create movement. I think the late spring has meant all these insects have erupted onto the land at the same time create more opportunities to capture them. And I am having fun with it.

      • Lighting is tough. I use a Canon twinlight MT 24-EX – very versatile but still on-camera. Enjoy it while it lasts.

      • I think there will be spurt of images now and then in the autumn when it is mushroom season, there are some great images then. I will def take advantage of it.

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