Hemipterans are used as food for both people and their pets. In parts of Mexico, humans eat egg masses of water boatmen that are fried or dried in the sun. Giant water bugs in India are cooked in syrup and are sold as an expensive treat. Female cicadas full of eggs are eaten in many countries throughout Asia. Stink bugs and their eggs are also dried and sprinkled on food like pepper.
A reddish-purple dye known as carmine comes from a scale insect that feeds on the juices of cactus. This dye is used to color fabrics and as a food coloring. The bodies of a related insect, the lac scale, are used to make shellac.
A few species of true bugs are reared by the millions and released in agricultural fields. They are used instead of pesticides to control crop pests. For example, predatory stink bugs will attack caterpillars that eat soybean plants.
Cicadas have been used to symbolize life after death in the Far East. Jade carvings of these were once put into the mouths of dead princes and other important people. Today the Chinese keep cicadas in cages to hear them sing. They also make and fly kites that look like cicadas.
Several species of hemiptera are important crop pests. They damage leaves, stems, and fruits. Some species also spread plant fungus and viruses. In South America, blood-feeding species attack humans and other wild and domestic animals, spreading Chagas disease.
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