Sunday, 27 March 2011

A different sort of shieldbug

For those of you who appreciate the shieldbugs (that'll be everyone, then?), here's a really cute one. As the weather is definitely getting on the warm side, and the sun was shining happily, we went for a long walk around and up the mountain again, with the express purpose of looking for bugs. And doing lots of knitting, in a certain person's case - this has the advantage that it distracts Toad enough that he doesn't eat all the bugs before i can photograph them.

Either it's too early still, though, or the knitting didn't do its job properly - I didn't find all that much at all. A few new leafhoppers (including a huge one that got away), and a few signs of spring in the grasshoppers and beetles, but overall, surprisingly little. The best one we found near the top of the mountain, on top of some large crags. Amongst all the peaty soil and leaf litter, there were dozens of little round shieldbugs. The first one I was sure was playing dead, before realising that few species go as far in their camouflage attempts as to actually lose their heads over it... and it turned out that most of them really were dead. I only found this one live one, lumbering around on my trousers (an entomologist's clothing normally hosts a remarkably diverse community). I'm trying to work out the ID, but it's a scutellerid shieldbug of some sort. On most shieldbugs there's a little triangular bit on their back, called the scutellum. In scutellerids, it's much bigger... and in this case constitutes the whole of its back, to the point it doesn't really look like a bug at all!

We saw various other things as well... a wonderful little flock of jay-like birds, copying each other with a whole assortment of whistles, complex tunes and other calls. Crowds of people setting up camp wherever they could, and playing cards on tablecloths cast over the road. Ice-creams (now they were *really* interesting - or at least chocolatey, which comes to the same). And a really cute jumping spider that posed for a portrait - see my Flickr site if you're brave enough!


  1. It all sounds idyllic over there! We don't think of you at all you know - the office is certainly not following your excellent blog or anything...

    Bug looks amazing. Are your jay-like birds Red-billed Blue Magpies? We saw quite a few when we were in China...

    Hope you're well and enjoying yourselves. We miss you here a lot.

    Clare x

  2. Looks like you are going to be the envy of all UK based Hemipterists, not forgeting Palentologist as well, great stuff!! Looking forward to your summer photos, best wishes,