Heather Shieldbug – (Rhacognathus punctatus)

Rhacognathus punctatus
© James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, Wikimedia Commons
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rhacognathus.punctatus.jpg

Adult Size:  Length 7.0 – 9.0 mhieldbug is a predatory species, feeding mainly on larvae of the Heather Beetle Lochmaea suturalis.m

Identifying features: The Heather Shieldbug is variable in colour, but is generally a metallic blue- green to bronze over an orange-red background.  It has a pale orange or red mid line on the pronotum and its legs show orange/red banding.

 Habitat: It is largely confined to heathland and moorland in damper areas amongst Sphagnum moss or in mixed vegetation at the margins; it has occasionally been recorded on dune slacks and commons in the absence of Calluna.

Months seen:

Adult: All year

The larvae can be found from June to August, predating the Heather Beetle Lochmaea suturalis and other Coleoptera, including the closely related Lochmaea capreae which is found on stunted sallows, Salix spp.

The new generation is complete by August.

 

Rhacognathus punctatus Nymph
© Tristan Bantock
https://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Pentatomidae/rhacognathus_punctatus.html

Distribution: Widely distributed throughout the UK in suitable habitats, but always scarce and at low population densities.

Fig. 41: Heather Shieldbug
(Rhacognathus punctatus)
North Merseyside
Distribution Map

 

Similar species

The only real confusion species would be with Bronze Shieldbug, but the Heather Bug is smaller and lacks the partially yellow/orange antennal segment.

Otherwise, although there is a variation in how metallic these insects appear, the banded legs and orange-red line down the centre of the pronotum should distinguish this bug from other shieldbugs.

Bantock (2018)

Bantock & Botting (2018)

Bradley (2017)

Evans  & Edmondson (2005)

Judd (2009 & 2010)

Pendleton & Pendleton (1997—2018)

Wikiwand (2018)

Wikimedia Commons (2018)