Oxycarenus hyalipennis

Oxycarenus hyalipennis (Costa)

(Formerly placed in the family Lygaeidae).

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Oxycarenidae

Common name: Cotton seed bug, Egyptian cotton stainer.

Morphology: Adult body 4.0-5.0 mm long, tapered anteriorly, rounded and truncate posteriorly. Thorax and head black with minute silvery dots, hemelytra hyaline, hindwings whitish. The body of the nymphs is mostly red-brown, the abdomen pink.

Geographical distribution: The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America.

Host plants: Primarily Malvaceae, especially cotton, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench)) and Hibiscus spp. Some fruit trees, like avocado, apricot, dates, figs and persimmon, may also be infested.

Life history: Each female lays 20-25 eggs, singly or in small groups on open or damaged cotton bolls and the emerging nymphs, which tend to aggregate, feed on the seeds and mate thereon. The pest may also feed on leaves and young stems, and move between host plants, annually raising 3-4 generations. When suitable host plants become scarce the bug flies to resting sites where they form clusters, and hibernate. Periodically they appear in very large numbers, aggregating and hiding on non-host shrubs and trees.

Economic importance: The cotton seed bug is a serious pest of cotton in Egypt, and of cotton and okra in Southeast Asia and Africa. Weight loss can reach 15%, seed germination may be severely reduced, and the oil quality of the seed can be affected. Adults as well as nymphs cause damage by sucking oil from mature seeds, and stored cotton may also be attacked. Additional damage may accrue during processing due to the lint becoming stained by crushed bugs. The pest may damage fruit trees by inducing greasy spots, which is due to sucking and excreting toxic saliva, and by disfiguring fruits with its feces. In addition, the bugs congregate on walls of buildings without feeding, aggregations that emit an unpleasant odor and could be an urban nuisance.

After O. hyalinipennis became established in Central America, efforts are being made to restrict its invasion of mainland USA.


Monitoring: UV-light traps are placed for monitoring in areas where preferred host plants, like cotton or okra, are grown.

Horticultural control: Inspection and removal of wild plants that grow around crops.

Chemical control: As the pest usually infests (and is protected by) the boll or the leaf litter beneath the plant, effective pesticide applications are problematic. During outbreaks, control may be obtained with chemicals, like some organophosphates that have contact and systemic properties, applied early in the morning while the insects are less active.

Biological control: Entomopathogenic fungi, like ., Beauveria bassiana (Bals.-Criv.) Vuill. and Metarhizium anisopliae (Metchnikoff) Sorokin have shown some promise. In Africa astigmatic mites were found on the bugs, which became sluggish and soon died; spiders were also reported to attack this pest.


Adu-Mensah, K and Kumar, R. 1977. Ecology of Oxycarenus species (Heteroptera) in southern Ghana. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 9: 349–377.

Ali Khan, B., Freed, S., Zafar, J. and Farooq, M. 2014. Evaluation of three different insect pathogenic fungi for the control of Dysdercus koenigii and Oxycarenus hyalinipennis. Pakistan Journal of Zoology 46: 1759-1766.

Ananthakrishnan, T.N., Raman, K. and Sanjayan, K.P. 1982. Comparative growth rate, fecundity and behavioral diversity of the dusky cotton bug, Oxycarenus hyalinipennis (Costa) (Hemiptera; Lygaeidae) on certain Malvaceous host plants. Proceedings of the Indian Natural Sciences Academy 48: 577–584.

Nakache, Y. and M. Klein. 1992. The cotton seed bug Ocycarenus [sic] Hyalinipennis (Costa), attacked various crops in Israel in 1991. Hassadeh 72: 773–775 [in Hebrew with English summary].

Holtz, T. 2006. Qualitative analysis of potential consequences associated with the introduction of the cottonseed bug (Oxycarenus hyalinipennis) into the United States. USDA-APHIS publication # 2006.

Smith, T.R. and Brambila, J. 2008. A major pest of cotton, Oxycarenus hyalinipennis (Heteroptera: Oxycarenidae) in the Bahamas. Florida Entomologist 91: 479-482.