Something Strange In The Bushes

x4 images. Double click to enlarge.

I have a Hawthorn bush growing in the back garden, and I discovered these strange things stuck to the branches. They are around 5-7 mm (1/4 inch) long.

As you can see they are brown and wrinkly with what looks like a cotton wool ball tucked at the back of them. They were something I had never come across before.

I had my suspisions they were some kind of scale insect. Scale insects belong to the order of insects called Hemiptera – the true bugs, which include the shieldbugs and the likes. I discovered these belong to a family called Coccidae – the soft scales.

These strange insects are called the Woolly Vine Scale Insect (Pulvinaria vitis). They have a a soft shell of protection attached to the body which helps prevents them from dying out and gives them protection from potential predators like parasites. A cottony wax coating is produced that is used to conceal the eggs. Once these insects are attached to a tree they become immobile, feeding on the sap of the host plant. The images show females with cottony ovisacs. The smaller males (1.5 mm long), which possess wings, are rarely seen.

Where The Colours Really Shine

Basking in the warming afternoon sun and showing off its very fine shiny colours, this is the Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus. It must have got itself lost for it is generally associated with Gorse, but there is no Gorse in my back garden. However I am pleased it stopped by, for this is my very first ecounter with this marvellous insect.


April 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Green Shield Bug Palomena prasina

Green Shield Bug Palomena prasina

Double click to get a little closer.

August 2017, local woodland margin, Staffordshire, England.

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus

I have featured this extraordinary ‘bug’ before in a previous post, and you can learn more about it there if you wish to: Dock Leaf Bug. However, please note the two converging lobes on the nose in the second image down. This is diagnostic of this species.

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus

When I came across several of them this morning on a local woodland margin, I also saw two instars which can be seen below. Note the differences between the adult on the left and the final instar on the right in the image directly underneath.

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus adult and final instar

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus final instar

Below is a mid instar, and comparisons can be made between the two stages with the final instar above.

Dock Bug Coreus marginatus mid instar

August 2017, Staffordshire, England.

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale final instar nymph

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale final instar nymph

This bug landed on my neck when I was sitting in the garden. It has been going through various stages (instars) as it is growing up, and it is  almost an adult. Please see final image to see what the adult looks like.

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale final instar nymph

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale final instar nymph

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale final instar nymph

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) final instar nymph, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.

Neolygus contaminatus

Neolygus contaminatus

There are quite a few of these green capsid bugs around, and they can be quite confusing to identify with accuracy. This one is usually found on birch, and is common and widespread throughout Britain. The adults are seen June to September, and can grow up to 6mm (0.2in) long.

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

‘Bugs’ Bunny

Heterotoma planicornis

No, not a rabbit or a strange Frankenstein hybrid between bunny and bug, but just a bug, a true bug from the order of insects called Hemiptera.

Heterotoma planicornis

I know one thing this small bug likes to do, and that is to wave his extraordinarily long antennae around. Here, there and everywhere.

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

In Space No One Can Here You Scream

Delphacidae sp nymph

Sorry, let’s rewrite that. “Near the local pond no one can hear you scream”.

I have never seen anything quite like this before. The locals must have thought I had completely lost the plot as I was kneeling in mud on the edge of a local pool snapping away, totally oblivious of anybody if they were watching me.

Delphacidae sp nymph

Anyway, this is a planthopper bug, a nymph most likely from the Delphacidae family of planthoppers. They are like the size of a grass seed. But the horror and subsequent screaming comes from the bulbous package it is forced to carry on its tail end.

Delphacidae sp nymph

It is a parasite, a Dryinid wasp larva which is part outside and inside of the planthopper. It feeds on the host, eventually breaking out for pupation and killing it in the process.

Delphacidae sp nymph

With special thanks to Stewart Bevan for helping to narow the species down and for confirming the ‘alien’ in our midst.


Local pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.

Calocoris stysi

Calocoris stysi

Formerly called Grypocoris stysi, this is quite a distinctive and attractive plant bug which I came upon as I walked along a local woodland margin.

Calocoris stysi

Calocoris stysi


July 2017.

Being Bugged

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

In the garden this morning I could not help but notice how many of these bugs called the Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina), where sunning themselves on my bush. The more I looked the more I saw, and to my astonishment they were in various stages of colouring. There were about ten in all quite happily basking, the one above still in his or her autumn and winter coat, the one below in their spring and summer coat.

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

And last but not least, this one in the change, somewhere between the two as it is gradually turning green. They should all be green within a week or so once out of hibernation.

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

Hawthorn Shieldbug #2

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Photographs of Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), taken September 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens

Lesser Water Boatman

Corixa punctata

Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata)Back in June I found one of my first invertebrates in my garden pond which I had built in April. It was the nymph of the above adult Lesser Water Boatman. I am pleased to have noticed how it has grown into adulthood, and that there are at least two of them swimming around in my pond. The only way to reasonably photograph them is to catch them and place them in a white crock dish, which I finally did today, and that is quite a task in itself. I much prefer to photograph specimens in their natural environment, but some things are virtually impossible to do so. I always release them back safely.

Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata)

Please see my previous post to learn more about the Water Boatman (Corixa punctata.

Photographs of Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata), taken August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Hawthorn Shield Bug

Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

I find I get a lot of these bugs visiting my garden. Typically, like all shield bugs, this bug is shield-shaped, which is generally green in colour with a triangle of reddish-brown on its back with a green centre. The wings are red-tipped, and the antennae are long with few segments. It can grow up to 15mm long.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

It releases a pungent odour when attacked or alarmed. It feed on fruits and leaves of various trees and shrubs, especially Hawthorn.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Seen all year round, although usually dormant during the winter months. It favours hedgerows and woods, but maybe seen in gardens. A common and widespread species, but mainly in the south.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Photographs of Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), taken August 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens with softbox flash diffuser.

The Weird And The Wonderful

It’s amazing what you see when you just stop and look, and look some more. This is a tiny plant bug which has no common name, but is called Heterotoma planicornis. They grow to just over 5mm long, and it was a wonder I saw it on a leaf of my crab apple tree. It moved so fast from leaf to leaf it was hard to keep track of, let alone photograph it. The wide and flattened 2nd antennal segment, darkish ground colour and green legs help in identifying the species.

The adults and nymphs feed on small insects as well as plant tissue.

The adults are seen July to October on a variety of plants and trees, especially nettles. It is abundant throughout most of Britain.

Hairy Shieldbug

Dolycoris baccarum

Also called the ‘Sloe Bug’, it is a medium-sized bug with narrow shoulders which do not project beyond the width of the abdomen. It is very hairy, and it is normally brownish to reddish in colouration. The scutellum is greenish with a yellow tip. It is a about 12mm long.

They feed on a wide range of plant material, including fruits and seeds.

Found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. It is common and widespread throughout Britain except the far north.

Photographs taken May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire.

 

Green On Green

I discovered this green bug when it flew through my patio door. It is called the Green Shield Bug  (Palomena prasina). It is commonly seen resting on vegetation, but handle with care, for as a defence  mechanism it secretes a foul-smelling odour which has earned it another name ‘Stink Bug’.

Photograph taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Deraeocoris flavilinea nymph

Whilst doing a little pruning in the garden this morning I came across this colourful little insect. It is a plant bug, the nymph of Deraeocoris flavilinea.

This is a fairly large bug when fully grown, and they are sexually dimorphic. The females are lighter than the males, and orangish-brown. The males are darker and more brown, with the front and rear margins of the pronotum being thin and pale. Both sexes have distinctive but variable yellow or yellowish-orange spots to the rear margin of each forewing (the cuneus). The tibial banding is brick-red. Length 7-8mm.

They feed on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, including Sycamore and Field Maple.

Seen June to July, and found in woodland rides and in hedgerows. This species of bug arrived on our shores in 1996 and has rapidly spread across southern and central England becoming common and widespread.

Photographs taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Lesser Water Boatman nymph

Corixa punctata

I built my garden pond this April in the hope I could attract more wildlife to my garden. It has amazed me how in a relatively short space of time life has took hold there and has flourished. Below is a bug, not a beetle, but a bug which is also known as the ‘Common Water Boatman’. I have seen it a few times diving beneath the water of my small garden pond, and finally, today, I have managed to get a few photographs of it. I discovered it is not an adult, but a nymph, and was surprised by its green glasslike appearance. I hope it will stick around so I can see it grow up.

This boatman swims the right way up, instead of upside down on its back like similar species do. The middle and hindlegs are about the same length. The upper body surface is flattened without a central keel, and the underside is pale. Body length 12 to 14mm.

It feeds mainly on plant debris from the bottom of ponds, but also algae and diatoms. They use their hair-fringed front legs to filter through the water. It can fly, and whilst under water it carries bubbles of water under its wings.

It is active all year round, and found in still and slow-moving water like ponds and lakes. Common and widespread.

Photographs taken June 2016, rear garden pond, Staffordshire.