World of Bugs

We don’t have the time to do a separate blog post for everything we see, sometimes we couldn’t get a good photograph, and sometimes there just isn’t anything interesting to say.  Its also useful to have pictures of related creatures in one place even if we have a blog post on some of them. So we have created galleries for record purposes and as a home for the things we still have to identify – mainly insects.

Welcome to our World of Bugs! This post covers Shieldbugs, the photographer’s favourite because they are sculptural, slow and site conveniently on top of things, and anything else we’ve found from the larger bug kingdom of the Hemiptera. Identification isn’t as hard as it is for flies, for instance, but there are still many similar bugs so some IDs are therefore often very tentative.

NatureSpot explains that Insects in the order Hemiptera are commonly called Bugs. There are about 1700 species in Britain. The range of forms is huge but they all have in common a piercing beak, used like a hypodermic needle to suck juices from plants or other animals. The name ‘hemiptera’ means half (hemi) wing (ptera) and refers to the feature that many bugs have the front half of the wing hardened (like in beetles) but the rear part is membranous. The bug order is divided into two sub-orders: heteroptera and homoptera. Generally the heteroptera have wings flattened over the body whilst the homopterans hold their wings in a tent-like position. 

Shieldbugs and Friends

We normally start seeing the shieldbugs in June , sometimes over-wintered adults and youngsters at various stages of development.

There are over 40 species of Shieldbug in the UK so we have away to go yet. They have glands between the first and second pair of legs that produce a foul-smelling liquid, which is used defensively to deter potential predators and is sometimes released when the bugs are handled. The nymphs are similar to adults in basic body plan but they are smaller and without wings and become progressively more like the adult as they go through successive stages of development.

The nymphs and adults have piercing mouth parts, which most use to suck sap from plants, although some eat other insects. When they group in large numbers, they can become significant pests but in the wood they never seem to get out of hand. They are especially welcome because they move slowly and pose prettily for portraits.

  • Pentatoma rufipes – Red-Legged Shieldbug or Forest Bug
  • Dolycoris baccarum – Sloe Shieldbug or Hairy Shieldbug
  • Eurydema oleracea – Brassica Bug
  • Nezara viridula – Southern Green Shieldbug
  • Troilus luridus – Bronze Shieldbug
  • Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale – Hawthorn Shieldbug

Useful Resources

And here’s a diagram from British Bugs to help you make sense of the terminology!

The Gallery

Red-Legged Shieldbug adults (also called the Forest Bug) (Pentatoma rufipes), blog post October 2018.

Red-Legged Shieldbug 3rd instar nymph, 2019 mid-June.

Red-Legged Shieldbug final instar nymph, 2019 mid-June.

Sloe bug

Sloe Shieldbug (also called the Hairy Shieldbug) ( Dolycoris baccarum), blog post June 2016.

And again in mid-June 2019, still transitioning from winter colours?

Brassica bugs

The Brassica Bug (Eurydema oleracea), blog post June 2016.

Southern Green Shieldbug ( Nezara viridula) 3rd instar, 2018 early -October

Southern Green Shieldbug 4th instar (actually in our allotment but gives us an idea what to look for) September 2018.

Bronze Shieldbug (Troilus luridus) mid instar nymph, July 2018.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), April 2017. Apologies for the blurry phone photo quality!

The Plant Bugs (Miridae)

Wikipedia explains that the Miridae are a large and diverse insect family at one time known by the taxonomic synonym Capsidae. Species in the family may be referred to as capsid bugs or “mirid bugs”. Common names include plant bugs, leaf bugs, and grass bugs. It is the largest family of true bugs belonging to the suborder Heteroptera; it includes over 10,000 known species, and new ones are being described constantly. Most widely known mirids are species that are notorious agricultural pests that pierce plant tissues, feed on the sap, and sometimes transmit viral plant diseases. Some species however, are predatory.

  • Grass bug – Stenodema holsata
  • Plant bug – Rhopalus Subrufus
  • Red and Black Frog Hopper – Cercopsis vulnerata
  • Common Froghopper – Philaenus
  • Plant Hopper

Useful Resources

A nice fat Grass Bug, I’d guess Stenodema holsata because there are no leg spurs and its broader than it looks at first glance.

A tiny Grass Bug, no ID yet.

Rhopalus Subrufus, blog post May 2017.

Red and Black Frog Hopper (Cercopsis vulnerata), blog post May 2015.

Alder Spittle Bug (Aphrophora alni), ‘old friends’ blog post August 2018..

Maybe Common Froghoppers (Philaenus spumarius)? Very variable as you can see here.

A Leaf Hopper, because it has the rear tibia spines? No ID yet.

A Leaf Hopper, because it has the rear tibia spines? No ID yet.

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