Why record shieldbugs?
Merseyside Biobank’s prime purpose is to acquire and store as much data as possible about the wildlife if north Merseyside. This data is then available to both professional and amateur naturalists to pursue their interests, develop their skills in identification and recording. It is also made available to interested bodies such as local councils, developers, professional bodies and government agencies to enable them to make informed decisions and direct their activities appropriately.
To this end recording is a fundamental part of our activities and it is important for as many taxa as possible to be covered in our records.
Shieldbugs are a useful group for recording and study not only for their intrinsic qualities but also for the fact that our records for north Merseyside are very sparse indeed and nationally they are,relatively understudied which means that there is a void in our knowledge of their ecology, behaviour and overall significance.
For those who are new to wildlife recording shieldbugs are a good taxon to focus on because many species are relatively easy to study and photograph as they do not readily take flight and their relatively simple anatomy and morphology places fewer demands on the knowledge and skills of beginners in helping to identify them.
Many adult specimens can readily be identified ‘in situ’ without the need to collect, kill and anatomise it, although the thoughtful and considered collection of specimens can add much to their study.
They offer an opportunity to the wildlife photographer to produce high-quality macro images that can provide a deeply satisfying experience as can be seen if one visits the website ‘British Bugs’ curated by Drs. Tristan Bantock and Joe Botting.
3. Understudied: While much is known about the terrestrial Heteroptera, compared with some of the other insect taxa y. Among the evolutionary adaptations that have already been described within the terrestrial Heteroptera, there are a number of noteworthy examples for species known to occur in Hertfordshire. For instance, in the Parent Bug (Elasmucha grisea), the male dies shortly after mating but the female survives to brood the eggs in a remarkable demonstration of parental care. Another example is mimicry. In what is one such case, it is believed that the Blue Shieldbug (Zicrona caerulea) employs aggressive mimicry to help it prey on leaf beetles in the genus Altica.
This page has been written by Joe Gray, our new Hertfordshire recorder for terrestrial heteroptera. If you have any records to submit or any queries relating to terrestrial heteroptera in the county, please contact him by email.