Adult Size: Length: ca. 7 to 9 mm.
Identifying features: The Parent Shieldbug is a medium sized bug with reddish markings on a blue-grey background and a black and white connexivum. It usually displays an obvious black patch on the scutellum. This is one of the few Shieldbugs that show sexual dimorphism displaying a measurable size difference between the sexes.
Habitat: Birch woods and also birch trees in parks and gardens.
Adult: All year
The shieldbug overwinters as an adult, emerging and mating in the spring, the male dying soon after, but the female surviving, sitting over the eggs until they hatch and guarding the newly hatched larvae.
After the first moult the larvae follow the adult female. It is thought that the female acts to protect the larvae from potential predators as she will place herself between any intruder and her brood.
Larvae: found from mid-June until early August, feeding on birch and alder. The head, pronotum, scutellum and wing pads are mustard yellow with black stripes running along them. The abdomen is bright green with a central yellow line and black marks on either side. The connexivum is yellow with small black ovals.
New adults may be found from August onwards; these begin hibernating from late October. Like other over-wintering adults they become dark brown during the winter, their lighter colouration returning as it becomes warmer.
Distribution: Common and widespread throughout most of the British Isles.
Similar species: This species is fairly distinct, although most similar to the mainly green Elasmostethus but the black markings on the connexivum and the blue-grey and orange markings on the head and pronotum, distinguishes Elasmucha grisea from other British shieldbugs.
Bantock & Botting (2018)
Evans & Edmondson (2005)
Judd (2009 & 2010)
Pendleton & Pendleton (1997—2018)
Wikimedia Commons (2018)