Heraldic bug is a challenge to spot

editorial image

Shield Bugs are named for their heraldic shapes and look a bit like those shields you see in sports club trophy cabinets, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

There are numerous species, each associated with a particular plant.

Species include juniper shieldbug, birch shieldbug, hawthorn shieldbug and sloe shieldbug. My photograph shows gorse shieldbug.

Although we seem to have picked up the American habit of calling all insects “bugs”, the term is properly applied to certain families of sap-sucking insects, although any entomologist will have spotted that as bit of a generalisation.

Of all the locally found species, perhaps this one, the gorse shieldbug, is the most easily found. Gorse or “whin”, is well known to most folk, with its masses of green spines and bright yellow flowers throughout spring. Inspect those flowers on a bright day and you should easily spot the shieldbugs clustered on the branch tips.

When I say “easily” what I mean is, it is easy once you have got your eye in. At first the bug’s cryptic colours and pattern may fool your gaze, resembling closely the flower buds of the gorse.

Spot your first one, however, and it is amazing how quickly you will notice others, right under your nose.

Hopefully an early success in finding gorse shieldbug will spur you on to search for other interesting insects.

Let insects lead you into a whole new world of wonder.