Adults are small, black bugs about 1/8 inch long with white wings folded over the back. Two small, dark, triangular markings appear near the mid-portion of the wings. Immatures are bright red after hatching, then darken as they approach maturity. A white band on the upper side of the first abdominal segment is visible until the wing buds grow to cover it.
Overwintered adults emerge in early spring and fly to small grains where they mate and produce the first generation. Most problems in sorghum occur when large groups of immature, wingless nymphs migrate from fields as the grain matures and invade adjacent sorghum fields to mature and produce a second generation. Because the nymphs are flightless, various barrier treatments and trap crops historically have been used to protect the margins of emerging sorghum fields. Occasionally, adults fly into sorghum either directly from overwintering grasses, late-maturing wheat or from other sorghum fields.