Saturday, 5 December 2015

Photographic Advent Calendar, Day 4: Shield Bugs

Day four of my wildlife photographic advent calendar series...and for today's post I have chosen Shield Bugs (Hemiptera). These smart little invertebrates are named after their shield-like exoskeleton, which takes on various different forms in the variety of species found across the world. It is invariably five-sided (giving the family name of Pentatomids), and these species are often referred to as stink bugs, due to the pungent liquid emitted upon threat. In the UK, most species are herbivorous, feeding on plants and occasionally berries, whilst a few are even carnivorous! One of the cool characteristics of some species is to do with their developmental cycle: some show parental care, brooding eggs until they hatch, and then provisioning for their developing nymphs until a more advanced stage. This form of development is know as vivparious, contrasting to the holometabolous form adopted by other invertebrate species, where a larvae has to undergo complete metamorphosis to achieve the adult stage.

Will Hawkes and I have derived great enjoyment from discovering a wealth of different shield bug species present around the Cornwall area this autumn...we have recorded around 12 different species, including some very smart ones! There are still individuals hanging around, as we came across a Gorse and Common Green Shield Bugs just two days ago!

A collage showing some of the different Hemiptera species we have recorded this autumn

Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus

Hairy Shieldbug Dolycoris baccarum

Dock Bug nymph Coreus marginatus

Common Green Shieldbugs Palomena prasina

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