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Biology of Newly Recorded Predator Antilochus coquebertii of Red Cotton Bug, Dysdercus koenigii Fabricius (Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae) from Pakistan




Biology of Newly Recorded Predator Antilochus coquebertii of Red Cotton Bug, Dysdercus koenigii Fabricius (Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae) from Pakistan

Rabia Saeed1, Muhammad Naveed1, Muhammad Razaq2*, Muhammad Rafiq1, Muhammad Tahir Jan1, Syed Ishfaq Ali Shah1, Shabana Wazir1 and Fahad Munir3

1Entomology Department, Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Old Shujaabad Road, Multan, Pakistan

2Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan,60800, Pakistan

3The Environmental Science Department, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Vehari, Pakistan


Dysdercus koenigii Fabricius (Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae) has become destructive pest of cotton since 2011. The pest causes severe lint staining and seed germination reduction problems. Antilochus coquebertii (Fabricius) (Heteroptera: Pyrrhocoridae) is significant predator of the genus Dysdercus and other members of the pyrrhocoridan family. In the present annotation, we record for the first time A. coquebertii in cotton growing areas of Dera Isamil Khan, Muzafar Garh and Multan districts, Pakistan.

Article Information

Received 09 March 2017

Revised 20 March 2018

Accepted 20 September 2019

Available online 29 May 2020

Authors’ Contribution

RS conceived and designed the study, analyzed the data and wrote article. MR designed and supervised the study. SIAS conceived the study. MN and MR helped in writing manuscript. FM to reared the insects and collect data.

Key words

Pyrrhocoridae, Cotton stainer, Predator, Rearing, Gossypium hirsutum


* Corresponding author:;

0030-9923/2020/0005-2011 $ 9.00/0

Copyright 2020 Zoological Society of Pakistan

Antilochus coquebertii (Fabricius) (Heteroptera: Pyrrhocoridae) is considered to be a voracious feeder of cotton stainers of the genus Dysdercus sand other members of the Pyrrhocoridan family (Dhiman, 1985; Kohno, 2003; Evangelin et al., 2015). It belongs to genus Antilochus. Twenty five species of this genus have been reported in tropical Africa including Madagascar, South and Southeast Asia, the Malay Archipelago, New Guinea, Taiwan and Japan. A. coquebertii is distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia, in Taiwan and Ishigaki-jima Island of Japan (Rédei et al., 2017; Kohno, 2003). Prevalence of A. coquebertii is widespread in India, where it was observed to feed predominantly on the cotton stainer Dysdercus cingulatus (Fabricius) (Heteroptera: Pyrrhocoridae) (Kohno, 2003; Evangelin et al., 2015).

In Pakistan, widespread introduction of Bt cotton caused reduction in the usage of broad spectrum insecticides against bollworms (Saeed et al., 2016). This modification resulted in the emergence of secondary pests like Dysdercus koenigii Fabricius (Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae), known as red cotton bug or cotton stainer (Ashfaq et al., 2011; Shah, 2014).

Dysdercus koenigii nourish on developing cotton bolls and mature cotton seeds and act as vector to transmit cotton staining fungus, Nematospora gossypii that develops on immature lint and seed (Ahmad and Schaefer, 1987; Yasuda, 1992; Jalil et al., 2013). Since 2011, its excessive attack has caused severe lint staining problems and diminished market price of cotton (Jalil et al., 2013) in Pakistan. This alarming situation invigorated studies on D. koenigii and its natural enemies. The aim of this report is to provide a formal record on the presence and biology of A. coquebertii in Pakistan.


Materials and methods

Exploratory searches were made by the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Multan Pakistan, to collect D. koenigii and its natural enemies from different districts of Pakistan, in order to address this problem. As a result of these searches, we recorded for the first time A. coquebertii from D. koenigii infested cotton fields of Cotton Research Station (CRS), Rata Kulachi (30’ 15” 32’ 17” N 70’ 11” 70’ 42”E) District Dera Ismail Khan, Ali Pur (32°56′00″N 73°13′00″E) District Muzafar Garh and Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan (30°11′52″N 71°28′11″E), Pakistan in 2012. A. coquebertii specimens were collected in plastic jars and brought back to the CCRI Entomology lab and efforts were made for its rearing. Voucher specimens have been deposited in laboratory of the Entomology Section of CCRI, Multan, Pakistan.

Plastic cages measuring 37.5 × 22.5 × 37.5 cm (L × W × D) having three aeration holes (7.5 ×7.5 cm) covered with fine mesh were used to rear A. coquebertii in the laboratory conditions (27±2ºC, 60-75% RH, 11L: 13D photoperiod). To provide substratum for oviposition, the floor of plastic cage was covered with one inch layer of sterilized soil and sand, and dry leaves with twigs of cotton crop were kept inside the cage. Petri dishes (5cm) having moistened cotton covered with filter paper were placed in the cage to maintain moisture. D. koenigii were provided as food on daily basis. To study the survival and the developmental period for each nymphal instar of A. coquebertii, 25 newly emerged instars were placed individually in plastic cups (10×10 cm) that were half filled with sterilized soil mixed with sand, and soaked cotton was placed on the soil. Every day, D. koenigii (3rd-5th instar) were provided as food in plastic cups individually. Five newly emerged pairs of A. coquebertii were placed individually in plastic cups to record reproductive biology.


Results and discussion

A. coquebertii are oval, elongate, and resembles to D. koenigii with the following differences. A. coquebertii have narrow black transverse lines on ventral abdominal side of nymphs and adults are bright red in colour without any black spot on wings. By contrast D. koenigii nymphs and adults have white lines on ventral side of abdomen and adults are crimson red in colour having black spots on scutellum.

A. coquebertii has five nymphal instars. Among the nymphal instars, developmental period of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th instars was 6.8, 5.2, 7.4 and 7.8 days, respectively at 27±2ºC along with 60-75% RH. These instars consumed 6-7, 3-13, 3-17, 7-10 and 11-19 numbers of preys, respectively. Developmental period of 5th instar A. coquebertii was longer (15days) but its survival percentage was lower (54%) than other instars with consumption of approximately 30-66 prey (Table I). Total nymphal developmental period was 42.1±1.18 days. Female laid eggs on soil under leaves or in cracks in batches with an average of 61±6.82 eggs/ batch (Table II).

D. koenigii is difficult to control in the field due to rapid reproduction, high mobility and wide host range (Jalil et al., 2013; Kohno, 2003). Therefore, the use of the biocontrol -agent A. coquebertii to control D. koenigii should be considered because it can tolerate temperatures typical of tropical and subtropical regions (Kohno, 2003) and further the use of biocontrol-agents may be applicable not only to cultivated cotton fields, but also to wild alternative hosts. Red cotton bug appears usually at squaring and boll formation stage of cotton (our personal observation). Transgenic cotton needs pesticides only for sucking insect pests like jassid, Amrasca devastans (Dist.) and whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Genn). Toxic impact of insecticides like imidacloprid, dimethoate etc have been studied for pirate bug, Orius spp. (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae), big eyed bug, Geocoris spp. (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae), green lacewing, C. carnea (Neoroptera: Chrysopidae), lady beetle, Coccinellid spp. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) (Saeed et al., 2016). But for Antilochus, impact of insecticides is not yet evaluated in Pakistan. Therefore, further research is needed to evaluate impact insecticides being applied to manage pests of cotton for said predator.


Table I. Life history traits of each nymphal instar of Antilochus coquebertii.

Developmental stages

Developmental period (days)

Developmental range (days)

Percent survival

Ist instar




2nd instar




3rd instar




4th instar




5th instar





Table II. Reproductive traits of Antilochus conquebertii.

Pre-oviposition period (Days)

7 ± 0.71

Oviposition period (Days)

28 ± 5.78

No of pairing

6 ± 0.71

Gross fecundity

342 ± 44.11


61± 6.82


There is dire need to conduct further studies for efficient utilization of A. coquebertii against D. koenigii. Moreover, survey of alternate hosts of both the D. koenigii and A. coquebertii is also required to determine their role in harbouring pest and natural enemies. As alternate host plants may be beneficial in terms of providing alternate food source to natural enemies or detrimental being food reservoir for the pest (Saeed et al., 2015a, b).


Statement of conflict of interest

The authors declare there is no conflict of interest.



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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


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