Any ideas what this insect is? Adult at the bottom, slightly younger version at the top. A very big adult example might be 5mm long, but most are smaller than that, I think. They can fly. Found in London, infesting my quinoa flowerheads in their thousands, but not appearing to do much damage (I observed them for a while, but really couldn't tell what their game is - pollen eaters?) Never seen before in five years of gardening, and only ever seen on quinoa, which I grew for the first time this year. Any help much appreciated!
This is one of the Mirid bugs, Liocoris tripustulatus.
Why it favours your quinoa, I don't know; it is usually associated with nettles.
Thanks for your help guys! I concur with your identification Mike, my bug definitely looks just like Liocoris tripustulatus.
As to why it is infesting my quinoa... my best suggestion is this... quinoa, although from the Andes, is closely related to a very common English hedgerow plant, chenopodium album ("Fat hen") - and they're often seen growing besides nettles....??
Sometimes I wish Nature wouldn't do this - having such similar species in different genera (or higher taxa)!
I have enough trouble with that in moths...
Anyway, I can't say you're wrong. But these factors lean me towards Liocoris tripustulatus:
- the adult specimen has a complete dark band acros the back, just forward of the pale marks (less distinct in Lygus)
- the nymph specimen looks closer (comparing nymphs of both in http://www.britishbugs.org.uk)
- the adult specimen's legs have black bands more-similar to Liocoris tripustulatus
- it is more common (Lygus pratensis is a Red Data Book species, though expanding its range rapidly)
I'm open to counter-arguments...