Two for the price of one.
Forest and Hawthorn Shield Bugs
Now that the summer has gone, we do not have the problem of nasty flying and crawling things to bother us? This was summer in 2008!
At least we do not expect any, but there are still many about.
Today's little flying bug is one that I have only seen about ten times around Bute, but it is a wee cracker. This one was on the ground at Ascog, being caught in the back-draft from a car, and it did not know where it was, being confused and disorientated as it hit the ground, so it was easy to get a good shot of it.
To find out what it is called, look at the shape, it is very like a shield, and that is how it got its name, A “Shield Bug”, and this one is a Forest Shieldbug sitting on my finger with no thoughts about biting me. Even if it had not been caught by a passing car, I would be in no danger from it, as they are docile wee creatures.
Now these have been around for a very long time, probably long before man walked the earth, and they survive by protecting themselves with their robust shield, the shape that was to be used for generations, and is still with us. It is a very good design, not flat but rounded from the centre to the edges which cover the bug when it is attacked by predators and by man as he makes shields the same shape to deflect blows from other humans, bent on taking what you have. If a shield was made flat, then your arm would take the full force of a blow, and you may suffer a break, but make one the same shape as the bug, then you may survive.
I came across another on a rubbish bin at Ascog Bay about a month later, and as I approached it, it angled its shield to me to protect its softer parts, and as I moved around it, it kept the shield facing me. This went on for a few minutes, and then I left it in peace.
So it is not a biting bug, not like the Clegs that we get here, with their silent approach and landing on you, then that bite, that draws your attention to it, but by that time it is too late, and if you slap it the wrong way, you may be helping it inject it's filth into you.
Then there is the dreaded Midge! Enough said. Winter has its good points.
I donned my shorts only once this year, walked to Montford and back, and was covered in bites. The only way to prepare yourself from the onslaught is to put shorts on very early to toughen up your skin. Then again you may get frost bite, but as frost is not an insect, how can it bite you?
Now on to the Hawthorn Shield Bug.
This was seen on April of this year in the Chapelton Woods beside the Loch Fad road. It was resting on a birds nest box that I had fitted to a tree the previous week for the son of a friend of a friend of mine, and I was keeping my eyes on it to see if we had an early resident in it, but no joy yet, but I was more than happy to see this wee bug.
Shiny green with black and deep red markings; wings pale and membranous at the tip. Feed mainly on Hawthorn berries and usually found where this shrub is found. Also feeds on the leaves of other deciduous trees when berries are not available. Favours hedgerows and woods.
Used to be rare in Scotland, but are now seen more often, but this was my first sighting of one, so , photos taken then put it back on the box.
First published in the Buteman 14-05-2010