Callosobruchus subinnotatus (Pic) is the major insect pest of stored bambara groundnuts, Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdcourt, in sub-Saharan West Africa, but little is currently known about its biology or how it may be controlled. A series of laboratory studies was performed to investigate the bionomics of and differences between two apparently different morphs of adult of each sex of this species, here termed ‘active’ and ‘normal’. Major differences in their morphology, physiology and behaviour were identified and are described in detail for the first time. They provide clear evidence of the existence of an adult polymorphism among populations of this species, which is comparable in certain respects to that previously described for C. maculatus (Fabricius) and C. chinensis Linnaeus. Adults can be separated into the correct morph based on characteristic differences in elytral and pygidial colour and pattern. ‘Normal’ adults are characterized by having high fecundity, short adult life and are relatively sedentary while ‘active’ adults exhibit reproductive diapause (suspension of reproductive activity), are long lived, and show (at least in females) increased dispersal tendencies. These characteristics suggest adaptation of the ‘active’and ‘normal’ morphs respectively to the different environments of field and seed stores, and the significance of the polymorphism in the life history of C. subinnotatus is discussed in this context. The design of any effective control regime for this bruchid needs to take account of and could potentially be based upon the existence of polymorphism in C. subinnotatus.