Cotton Stainer Bugs: Living life the weird way

in Biodiversity and Environment by

Cotton Stainer Bugs – Living life the weird way

How often do we stop and admire the nature around us? Almost never. But if we ever decide to take out a little time just to explore our surroundings, we will know the vast number of surprises nature hides in its beauty. But where is nature? We all now live in places which is far from the image of ‘nature’ that comes to our mind.

I expect many of you to agree to this last statement but I beg to differ. The truth is that humans are a part of the nature as well and in whichever way we are shaping our surroundings, it is as natural as a bird building a nest on the tree. I came up with this view recently when we were given an assignment by our Professor Dr. Maria Thaker of CES department, IISc to make a documentary on any creature found in the institute. So, this documentary was made not in the Jubilee Gardens or the forested patches of IISc, but on the streets and drains of IISc.

If you have spent some time in the institute you might have noticed some red and black bugs with their posteriors attached to each other. An awkward position to be found in but this is what attracted us to make a documentary on them. These bugs are called ‘Cotton Stainer Bugs.’ Its scientific name is Odontopus varicornis and it belongs to the family of Pyrrhocoridae. It spends almost ninety percent of its life in this awkward position called ‘copula’ and that is why they are commonly found in this position. Some interesting points we were able to show in our documentary included this mating position and the bug’s strange relationship with the dead bodies of its fellow beings.  They mate on them, lay eggs on them and sometimes even eat them. For all we know these bugs might be mating on the dead bodies of their past lovers. Gross! Over and above this, they are also cannibalistic. Well, that always has a sense of weirdness attached to it. Icing on the cake?

The video was made as part of an assignment given by Dr. Maria Thaker. We would like to thank her for giving us this opportunity.

Alishan Sahu

Alishan is a third year UG at IISc majoring in Biology. She is an active member of the Rangmanch club of IISc. She is interested in Microbiology, although she admits she has no idea where her life is headed towards.

Sajini Patel

Sajini is a third year UG at IISc majoring in Biology. She is a curious person and keeps looking for new things to work on. She is growing as a person in IISc, socially as well as academically and is thinking of doing some serious work in microbiology.

Abhijeet krishna

Abhijeet is a third year UG at IISc majoring in Biology. His research interests lie in Theoretical Biology, Synthetic Biology and Neuroscience. Apart from finishing assignments JUST before the deadline, he is interested in the art of science communications. 


Cover image Courtesy: under Creative Commons License.

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