New Naturalist Series: Volume 147.
Shieldbugs are lovely. Why else would we given them such an elegant, heroic, heraldic name? Sure enough, they are glossy, chunky, often large and brightly coloured, and suitably shield-shaped. They walk with a friendly clockwork gait and take to the wing with a solid model-aircraft rattle. And they smell. Called, rather disparagingly perhaps, stink bugs in North America, the delicate scent is distinctive, but sometimes hard to accurately describe. Attempts at characterisation include: a cocktail of rancid marzipan and diesel; washing-up liquid, and WD40. Shieldbugs manufacture a broad range of bitter chemical deterrents as a protection against being eaten. They also have flip-top eggs (often multiples of seven), early nymphs of some species are domed and spotted to resemble ladybirds, though most are plant feeders one subfamily has evolved to hunt other insects, and a few show remarkable maternal brood-guarding behaviours to protect eggs and young against predators and parasitoids.
Softback, 464pp., 142 colour photographs and colour & b/w illustrations
R. Jones, William Collins (HarperCollins imprint), July 2023