Found on crops or in deserts, black bugs with red stripes stand out immediately. These bugs don’t use camouflaging techniques but rather bold contrasting colors to keep potential predators away.
Feeding on seeds, nectar, sap, and even on other insects, red striped black bugs are found across North America, depending on each species.
While red stripes on a black species aren’t rare, these following bugs are different species with different habitats, feeding preferences, lifespan, or seasonality.
Some of them are North American residents while others may migrate either for food or to overwinter.
1. Eastern Boxelder Bug
A species that lives and feeds on boxelder trees, Eastern Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittata) are mostly black and red.
Some of these bugs may also be brown and red while their nymphs are mostly red with black marks.
Adult Eastern Boxelder Bugs have a black ground color with numerous red stripes of various lengths across their wings.
A seed-piercing species, this type of bug may be spotted on Eastern North American boxelder trees. In addition, they may also feed on ash and maple.
Eastern Boxelder bugs are now seen as an invasive species in some of its newly-established territories outside The United States.
Range – Eastern North America
2. Large Milkweed Bug
Red or orange-red stripes and patterns are seen on the ground black Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus).
The stripes or marks on this bug for an X shape on its wings, add contrast to adults as juveniles are mostly orange-red.
Bugs of the species have a black band interrupting the central X-shape which runs from the head to the central part of the wings.
As their name implies, these bugs are tied to milkweed as a host, feeding on its seeds.
The area of the species is large, especially considering these bugs may migrate to no milkweed areas.
Range – North America, Central America
3. Small Milkweed Bug
A similar species, Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii) only grow to 0.4 inches. They show small nuance differences compared to Large Milkweed Bugs as well.
These types of bugs have orange-red stripes and gray-black ground colors.
There’s an X-shaped orange-red pattern on the lower wings which is joined at the base with another orange-red stripe.
Gray marks the central nuance of its wings while its head and wingtips are black.
A species that only feed on milkweed seeds, this species can become predatory in times when food sources are low.
Range – Central and Northern North America
4. Two-lined Spittlebug
Spittlebugs of this family are named after the thin stripes on their wings. These stripes have an orange-red nuance and cross both wings.
There’s an additional faint red strip between its head and the base of its wings.
A pest of grasses, Two-lined Spittlebugs (Prosapia bicincta) may be a short-term or long-term problem, depending on its range.
This species lays once in its Northern range and up to 3 times per year in its Southern range.
Common grasses and turfgrasses are impacted by the species to the extent complete management techniques are required against them.
Range – North America, Central America, South America
5. False Milkweed Bug
A black ground color is combined with orange-red stripes on False Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus turcicus).
This species has multiple patterns of stripes, both in an X shape and horizontal.
Short and longer red stripes are seen on this species that feed on the seeds of flowers in the sunflower family.
The bugs feed by sucking. They pierce flowers and their seeds for nutrients.
Females also rely on the flower host to lay eggs on.
Range – Eastern North America
6. Western Boxelder Bug
Thin stripes are seen on the central and upper body of Western Boxelder Bugs (Boisea rubrolineata).
The black base color of the species is only contrasted by its orange-red or red-brown stripes.
Its stripes are also wider and narrower, depending on their position. Those close to the head are wider.
Western Boxelder Bugs feed on boxelder trees that produce seeds. These bugs may also feed on the leaves of various other trees, including fruit-bearing trees.
Economic losses are accounted for when it comes to feeding habits. Western Boxelder Bugs feed on fruit making it unmarketable.
Range – Western North America
7. Scarlet-bordered Assassin Bug
Black and red colors dominate the appearance of Scarlet-bordered Assassin Bugs (Rhiginia cruciata).
This is a species that also appears in a color combination of black and red-brown or black and orange-red.
Vivid red nuances are typically seen in the form of stripes along its outer wings and around its head.
These red stripes are also specific to its prothorax.
Black and red bands dominate the appearance of its legs while its antennae are black.
Range – North America
8. Striped Blister Beetle
Variable coloring is specific to the Striped Blister Beetle (Epicauta vittata). As one of the most damaging types of blister beetles, this is a species that invade crops and feeds on multiple legumes.
Crops such as those of eggplant may be negatively impacted by this species.
The general-purpose insecticide is used against them.
Striped Blister Beetles come in different color combinations as follows. They can be yellow and black or yellow, red, and black.
Some rare morphs of the species are orange and black. A striped appearance dominates the species.
Its wings show alternating red and black stripes while its head has a similar color combination.
Range – Central United States, Southern Canada
9. Twice-stabbed Stink Bug
A black ground color is contrasted by a thin red stripe and 2 red marks on the Twice-stabbed Stink Bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana).
Named after its 2 large red spots, this species also has a thin red stripe, just behind its head. This stripe is crossed by another shorter stripe which is also red.
Twice-stabbed Stink Bugs may also have orange or yellow contrasting stripes and dots on their black ground color.
A species with a very widespread habitat, this bug is found on a wide range of plants and legumes. From asparagus to thistles, it can feed on a longer list of plants.
Range – North America, Central America
10. Eurasian Red-and-black Melyrid
If the stripes of the Twice-stabbed Stink Bug are narrow, those on The Eurasian Red-and-Black Melyrid (Anthocomus equestris) are large and band-like.
2 wide brown-red stripes are seen on its wings. These bands are connected on the sides.
Mostly black, this is a species of North American origin. Accidentally introduced around the world, they eat and live on herbaceous hosts and may come in metallic green head morphs.
The species is a nuisance pest in the fall when it seeks refuge in homes.
Range – North America, Europe
11. Red-banded Fungus Beetle
A species of North America, Red-banded Fungus Beetles (Megalodacne fasciata) bear the name of their fungus-based diet.
This is a species with a black ground color and orange-red or red-brown bands across its wings. These bands may be slightly interrupted.
While numerous, Red-banded Fungus Beetles aren’t easy to see as they live in mature forests across the country.
These bugs may even crawl under tree bark, seeking shelf fungi. This is a type of fungi typically also seen on tree bark in the form of sporophores.
This makes the bug one of the species used to identify both the age and the health of trees.
Range – Eastern and Southeastern North America
12. Goldenrod Leaf Miner Beetle
A species with varying coloring, Goldenrod Leaf Miner Beetle (Microrhopala vittata) has black ground coloring with red or red-brown stripes.
The nuances of its stripes can vary on the same morph. Vivid red stripes are typically seen on its outer wings while dark red stripes are seen on its inner wings.
Other rare morphs such as the orange, brown, and black Goldenrod Leaf Miner Beetles have bright orange stripes on the sides of the wings.
As their name implies, goldenrod galls represent a major attraction for the species.
Range – North America
13. Pyrota akhurstiana
Reaching a size of up to 0.8 inches, these bugs have a striped black and red appearance. A black ground color is paired with 3 dark red stripes across its wings.
The margins of its wings each show a red stripe with an additional red stripe formed by its inner wing margins.
Commonly seen between each summer up until August, these bugs are pests of Alfalfa crops.
Range – Arizona, Texas, Mexico
14. Black and Red Blister Beetle
5 red stripes are seen across The Black and Red Blister Beetle (Megetra cancellata). These are thin stripes that run parallel and which are matched by the nuance of the red dots on its wings.
Unlike other bugs with wings, Black and Red Blister Beetles have atypically short wings.
The wing of the species only covers the shoulder area of the dorsum while the exposed body of the species shows a black base color with red stripes across.
Native to the Southern US habitats, Black and Red Blister Beetles shouldn’t be handled as their secretions may cause allergies.
Range – Southern US