|Thyreocoridae ~ Ebony Bugs|
For a small family, this group has undergone more than its share of name changes. A new family name, Corimelaenidae, was proposed some 30 years after Thyreocoridae had already been assigned, and subsequent authors have sometimes used it. However, the older name officially takes precedence. The common name has also been in flux. These were originally called Negro bugs but that name has fallen out of favor and ebony bugs has become a suitable replacement.
Names aside, these are very small insects that resemble the shield bugs in that they have a large scutellum that covers their entire back. However, these bugs are always black with no markings. They also look like burrowing bugs but are much more rounded. They feed on plant stems, leaves and seeds.
I've seen two different species in our area but can only identify them to the genus level. A Galgupha species is on the large side for this group, measuring about 4 mm in length. It is very shiny and looks much like a beetle at first glance. The nymphs have white abdomens with black markings and individuals are usually found in small groups. They prefer the seed heads of Anemone heterophylla.
A much smaller, but more gregarious species, is in the genus Corimelaena. When found, there can be dozens of these bugs and they are very tiny, about 2 mm in length. They have a matte finish to their bodies and also have a reddish area along the outer edge of each wing. They look a lot like seeds.