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Reddish Vale Country Park

Shield Bug

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Adult shield bugs are attractive insects, easily characterised by their flatish oval or five-sided shield shap (the pentatomids). They are often called stink bugs because when threatened, some species produce a pungent liquid from special glands near their hind legs (poke one and then sniff your hand). Most shield bugs feed on plant sap and some are pests of economically important crops such as coffee and cotton. Few gardeners would consider them to be pests, although the noxious liquid they produce can taint the taste of some fruit. Most shield bugs need symbiotic bacteria for the digestion of the sap. They acquire this aid-to-digestion at an early age, their mother smears her eggs with the bacteria so that the young nymphs ingest them as they feed on the egg case.

 

 Unlike many insects, shield bugs often show parental care, guarding their young from predators. The Parent Bug (Elasmucha grisea) is so named because the female will actually sit on the eggs until they hatch. This reduces levels of attack from parasitic wasps.

 

Adult shield bugs hibernate in grass tussocks or leaf litter and emerge in May.

 

Females lay clusters of small, barrel-shaped eggs on the undersides of leaves. These hatch into wingless nymphs, which crawl between plants to feed, and become the new generation of adults in September. These bugs can often be seen basking in the sun during late summer before they hibernate. Both adults and nymphs suck plant sap but some eat other insects.

 

The Green Shield Bug bug is common throughout England and Wales, but less so in Scotland.

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Reddish Vale Country Park

Shield Bug