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St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer (Dysdercus andreae)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer

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Image Credit: Charles E. from the Florida Keys
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Image Credit: Charles E. from the Florida Keys
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Image Credit: Charles E. from the Florida Keys
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Image Credit: Robin G. from Miami, FL
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Originally a pest of cotton plants, St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer has moved on to another important cash crop in the sunshine state.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
St. Andrew's Cotton Stainers are a type of Red Bug known for marking or staining the fruit it feeds on. The torso has a white diagonal, or tilted cross, like that of St. Andrew on the Scottish flag. Its bright red body has black wing tips, two black spots in the middle of the body near the center of the cross, and a black triangle near the pronotum ('shoulders') smudged with red in its center. Nymphs are commonly seen with adults on the same plant and have a plump abdomen with white lines running across it. Each white line has a tiny black dot on the midline of the insect.

Historically, Cotton Stainers attacked young cotton bolls. Cotton bolls are the fluffy fruit of the cotton plant. When harvested, these tufts of cotton make fabric and cotton balls. The bug's feeding habit streaked the fresh, white cotton boll a yellowish brown color that never washed out. This color-staining ruined harvests on a grand scale, establishing the genus as an agricultural pest. This species can cause young cotton bolls to remain small in size. In addition to cotton, both nymphs and adults groups pierce edible fruits with their beaks and drink the juices inside. They are increasingly seen in fruit orchards and may be to blame for orange drop, a consequence of feeding on oranges which results in the fruit completely falling off the tree the same day. Spraying soapy water on affected plants may deter them. Removing weeds, debris, and other hiding places on the ground removes their winter shelters.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Pyrrhocoreidae
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          Genus: Dysdercus
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            Species: andreae

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Dysdercus andreae
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 12mm (0.31" to 0.47")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; black; white
Descriptors: oranges; drop; cross; diagonal; triangle; dots; smear; stain; flying; pest; harmful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 12mm (0.5in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 12mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the St. Andrew's Cotton Stainer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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