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11/05/2019 8:08 pm  #1

(Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

About 45 years ago (mid-1970's) I was hiking near Mew Lake... it was a bright but cloudy day. All of a sudden I saw something, a red spot, on the ground at least thirty feet away.  And I do mean RED.  Bright scarlet or vermillion, cadmium pigment red!

I walked closer, still lots of red.  A bit of plastic somethingerather? No wait, it was moving!  A bug of some sort.

I took off my pack and got down on my hands and knees for a closer look - it was a sort of beetle perhaps 3 mm long, less than a quarter of an inch at any rate and it was ambling along across the path. It was completely red: head, body, legs, and feathery antennae. It had a soft velvety texture, not glossy and all parts of it were the same deep red like the head of a pileated woodpecker. I was astonished that something this colourful could exist as it would probably have had a maximum life expectancy of a few seconds!

I didn't have a camera that day and have always regretted it.

Looking around on the WWW produces some pictures of red bugs - mites and chiggers (?) which sort of fit the bill, esp. the triangle shape ones... but I'm pretty sure I was looking at a beetle - again the feathery antennae.



11/05/2019 10:59 pm  #2

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Here are a couple of choices for you (there are probably more).  I'm not a bugologist, I just got interested and started poking around.

One is the Scarlet Lily Beetle (Red Lily Beetle).  That's an invasive species from Asia, and it exists in Canada.  6-9mm.  Not sure you'd see it walking around the forest floor though.   

The Box Elder Bug.  The Nymphs are very red, but they almost look like they have little black plates on their backs.  They hang around in (guess what) Box Elder Trees, and move around when hibernation time comes around.

This is one that I think would really stand out if you saw one.   Red Flat Bark Beetle.  There are a bunch of varieties, and they are found world wide.  They hang out under dead bark.  Maybe you saw one that ran out of dead bark or wanted to go on a road trip or something.  10-14mm in length.  This would be my guess. 

I didn't see anything  that I could align with feathery antennae.  So when you look these guys up, think one of them is a winner winner chicken dinner?  


11/06/2019 4:39 am  #3

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Roman_K2 wrote:

...I was astonished that something this colourful could exist as it would probably have had a maximum life expectancy of a few seconds!...

Actually I think it likely that the bright colour is what helps protects it. In the insect world, insects that are poisonous often advertise the fact.


11/06/2019 6:35 am  #4

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Giant red velvet mite?


11/06/2019 7:23 am  #5

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Giant red velvet mite could do it - 2cm long, but would be out of its range. Creepy-looking bug.


11/14/2019 3:23 am  #6

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Interesting. I regret not spending more time - like to sketch the critter. Yes, the Red Flat Bark Beetle kind of rings a bell, judging by pictures that have been posted on-line. But the body was short. Of these three randomly chosen ones, notice how the one in the middle is noticeably shorter.

Again, my bug was completely red esp. the legs. Although I confess to thinking of a scarab at the time, the head part was not a big feature and I don't remember it having ant-like jaws like the guy on the right.

The bright red was like powder - enamel (which is pulverized glass) before you fire it, or (this is better) flat, -- not glossy -- red spray paint.

Funny, it never occurred to me that stuff might crawl on you if you sleep out in the open at night. Although I once woke up in A.P. with a doormouse on my head and... later that day I had a couple of fleas in my trousers!

     Thread Starter

11/14/2019 3:40 am  #7

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

Interesting that the stock photo libraries are deep enough now that if you just type "red bug" or "red beetle", stuff comes up.

This one here even has six legs, looks like... unlike arachnids which have eight. Just a randomly-chosen stock photos page.

Thinking about it more, powdered tempera paint comes to mind - or amaranth. If you've ever been to the fair, they used to put a bit of amaranth into the sugar that was used to make cotton candy... this gave the candy "floss" a pinkish tinge. Whoops, looks like the FDA put a stop to that one!!!

Unfortunately the above is one of those links that are trapped in Wikipedia limbo due to interception and re-directs... if you look at the entry for the plant and the flowers there is a separate link for the dye, sorry. Bottom line is amaranth was this wicked, very fine red powder that would stain your fingers like henna if you got any of it onto your skin. Yuck.

So what I'm suggesting is that the strange-looking bug looked like it had a thick dusting of red powder, all over.

Last edited by Roman_K2 (11/14/2019 3:53 am)

     Thread Starter

11/15/2019 7:43 am  #8

Re: (Insects) Gorgeous scarlet-vermillion colour bug

That middle photo is not a 'shorter' length insect - it is taken at an angle.


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