Shield Bugs an Introduction.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

When most people I know are asked the question, what is wildlife? their normal answer is animals, usually large mammals such as those that occur in Africa, particularly lions and cheetahs, or, here in the UK foxes, otters etc, which is of course correct. However, wildlife includes any fauna and flora that is not domesticated and occurs in its natural habitat.

These species vary from the tiniest of creatures, many of them, not even visible to the human eye, to the largest of beasts that roam the continents that make up the land mass {and oceans} of our planet. In this article I would like to introduce some members of the insect family the Pentatomoidea, that occur in the U.K. They are usually referred to as Shield Bugs or Stink bugs. The latter because they are capable of discharging a foul smelling liquid to deter predators making the title an apt description. However, unless one handles them roughly you are unlikely to be a victim of this phenomena. Personally I prefer the former name of Shiedbug which derives from the shape of their bodies. They may be encountered in a variety of habitat where they appear on trees, shrubs and other herbage of their choice.

One of the commonest shield bugs in the U.K. is the green shield bug Palomena prasina this is the species I encounter most often.

Green Shield Bug

This green shield bug was photographed on the trunk of a horse chestnut tree.
This green shield bug was photographed on the trunk of a horse chestnut tree. | Source

It lives on---

It lives on a wide variety of host plants including trees shrubs and crops. It is 12-13mm long and of a medium green colour, without any substantial markings. The adult seasons are from May-July and from September -October. The second generation turn into a bronzy green colour before hibernating for the winter. when they emerge the following spring they are adorned in a deep, bright greencolour. They are common in England and Wales but tend to be very rare in Scotland.

Handle with care

If handled carefully they are unlikely to release their foul smelling liquid that give them their alternative name of stink bug.
If handled carefully they are unlikely to release their foul smelling liquid that give them their alternative name of stink bug. | Source

Hawthorn Shield Bug

The Hawthorn shield bug, Acanthasoma hamorrhoidale is another common but well camouflaged species with green and brown markings. They are 13-15mm long and feed on the fruit of hawthorn {haws} and the foliage. They may also encountered on species such as Oak and Whitebeam. the nymphs of the hawthorn shield bug are often seen in late summer when their red colour contrasts with the green foliage of the hawthorn.

Gallery of Bug and habitat

This nymph is almost at the adult stage.
This nymph is almost at the adult stage. | Source
This close up of the hawthorn shield bug shows the colouring which makes it well camouflaged.
This close up of the hawthorn shield bug shows the colouring which makes it well camouflaged. | Source
This photograph is to show how they are able to blend in with their surroundings.
This photograph is to show how they are able to blend in with their surroundings. | Source
HAWS the fruit of hawthorn are the main food source for this shield bug.
HAWS the fruit of hawthorn are the main food source for this shield bug. | Source

The Birch Shield Bug

The Birch shield bug Elasmosthethus interstirctus , as it name suggests is found wherever birch trees occur. This includes birch woods, mixed woods, gardens or even isolated trees in parks and town centres. The adult season is May-July and from August until October. These creatures are from 8-10mm long. They are similar to the previous species, however, the green and brown colouring is much prettier marked. They are rarely found on young trees that lack catkins. The overwintering females lay their eggs in May or June in batches of about 20. These shield bugs may also be encountered on species such as hazel and aspen. They are common throughout.

Top. Birch shield Bug. Below The Birch tree

This birch shield bug is an impressively coloured insect.
This birch shield bug is an impressively coloured insect. | Source
The shield bug is encountered on the host tree the birch.
The shield bug is encountered on the host tree the birch. | Source

Courtesy of AnimalKingdom5000

Woundwort Shield Bug

The woundwort shield bug Eysarcorus fabrieii is a smaller shield bug whose colouring has a metallic -like finish. This bug is 5-6mm long and over winter in the dank herbage near to their food plant. They feed on the "nutlets" of hedge woundwort, Stachy sylvatica.

They are restricted to the southern half of England. They tenant road sides, woodland edges and river banks. The nymphs are black and yellow with plump shiny, rotund bodies which are reminiscent of some species of lady birds. {lady bugs}

Top. Woundwort Shield Bug. Below. Hedge Woundwort

The woundwort shield bug. The nutlets can be seen in the seed capsule in the bottom left corner.
The woundwort shield bug. The nutlets can be seen in the seed capsule in the bottom left corner. | Source
They feed on the seeds vessels {which are hard nutlets} of Hedge woundwort, Stackys sylvatica.
They feed on the seeds vessels {which are hard nutlets} of Hedge woundwort, Stackys sylvatica. | Source

What are Shield Bugs.?

Shield bugs are insects and have the typical insect form of body, thus, the body is divided into three sections, the head, thorax and abdomen. They have six legs and a pair of antennae mounted on the head.

The word bug is often a misnomer for many creatures, for it has been associated with a diverse range of small creatures such as spiders or even centipedes along with the more general phrase of "creepie crawlies". The true bugs belong to the order Hemiptera to which the shield bugs belong. Some species of shield bug have a superficial resemblance to some beetles. To differentiate the two species one has to examine the wing cases. In shield bugs the wings never meet as a straight line down the middle of the back, which is the case in the majority of beetles.

The nymphs {young} of shield bugs are in fact miniature wingless versions of the adult, however, they are often an entirely different colour to thier parents.

Most species of shield bug do little damage as far as garden flora is concerned. I find them to be a fascinating group of insects and like lady birds {bugs} are not unpleasant on the eye.

Top. Examples of Shield Bugs.

Typical examples of shield bugs portraying their differing sizes.
Typical examples of shield bugs portraying their differing sizes. | Source
Source

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Comments 7 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 4 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Thank you suziecat7 ,

thank you for leaving your appreciated comments.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

Love this Hub. these bugs are so beautiful. Thanks for all the info and great photos. Voted up!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Eiddwen , thank you so much for your welcome comments. These and many other small creatures are very colourful. Best wishes to you.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

When we look at these bugs close up we can then see the beauty of them. What brilliant photos and a very informative hub. Normally even though I love all wildlife I would probably skip through the bug ones. However I don't think I will from now on after reading this. Brilliant.

Take care and God Bless D.A.L


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi MartieCoetser Thank you so much for your visit and for leaving your kind and appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.

CheyenneAutumn, Leaf hoppers over hear {sometimes called frog hoppers} are a smaller separate species. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.


CheyenneAutumn profile image

CheyenneAutumn 6 years ago

I like this - we call these little guys "leaf hoppers" here.. cute guys they are though...


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

You’ve tickled my curiosity! We’ve got those, or similar bugs, in SA too. Will have to google this. Thanks for this great informative hub! Voted UP.

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