Red cotton stainer (Dysdercus cingulatus) is a species of true bug in the family Pyrrhocoridae. It is a serious pest of cotton crops, the adults and older nymphs feeding on the emerging bolls and the cotton seeds as they mature, transmitting cotton-staining fungi as they do so.
Red cotton stainer's Behavior & Ecology
Like other true bugs, Dysdercus cingulatus sucks fluids from its host plants. The only part of the cotton plant affected by this pest is the flower and the seed capsule or boll. As this develops, the insect thrusts its rostrum between the carpels and sucks fluids from the still soft seeds inside. Micro-organisms are admitted in the process and may make the boll contents rot or the lint become discoloured. Meanwhile, the seeds wither, the fibres may fail to expand and the boll may abort. When the seeds of a host plant ripen and it becomes unsuitable, the adult insects migrate to new host plants of the same or different species. While away from their hosts, they feed on nectar and fruit of non-host plants, and can survive for several days without food. They seem fond of citrus fruits, but this may merely be because there are often citrus plantations in close proximity to cotton fields.