Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Red insect

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Question
I went to the beauty salon this morning, left my car out in the driveway, and when I came out later, there was what looked like a red fingernail on the side of the car.  Since I saw no head, legs, wings, or antenna, I thought someone had put a plastic fingernail there as a joke.  I flicked it off the car onto the driveway and stepped on it.  Much to my surprise, reddish liquid squished out of it.  Had I known it was an insect, I would have saved it.  It looked just like a bright red plastic fingernail about the size of a pinky.  Wish I would have saved it.  Any ideas?  I checked all over the Internet, but nothing.  Mary

Answer
Hi, Mary:

I have no idea, I'm afraid.  Perhaps I have become spoiled because most folks with questions like this also include an image.  Descriptions alone rarely suffice for identifying insects, simply because there are so many, they have different stages of development that all look different, etc, etc.

That said, I suppose you could be describing either a nymph of an Eastern Boxelder Bug, Boisea trivittata

http://bugguide.net/node/view/3598

or maybe a net-winged beetle:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/2814

Given that you saw no legs or antennae, though, it may have been something else.  I probably shouldn't even speculate. There are many, many insects that are bright red, including some moths, but I would imagine a moth would have flown when you flicked it off.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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