Green Shield Bug - Palomena prasina
Summer adult
Photos ©2001 -
Green Shield Bug - Palomena prasina, click for a larger image
Winter adult prior to hibernation
Click bottom photo for a larger image

Green Shield Bug - Palomena prasina
Also known as - The Green Stink Bug
Family - Pentatomidae

A member of one of the four families of Shield bugs to be found in the UK.  A flattened shield shaped, (from where it derives it's name) green, sometimes brown bug growing to 15mm (0.6in) long, with a distinctive triangular scutellum on it's back between the forewings and a brown patch at the tail.  They have five segments to their antennas whilst most other families of bug only have four segments to the antenna and are longer.  Found in much of Europe, the British Isles (sparse in Scotland) and the Eastern and Southern states of America, in hedgerows, grasslands and at woodland edges, where they feed on vegetation.  It is very much rarer in the north parts of it's range.  Their colouration makes them well camouflaged amongst the greenery.  Bright green during the summer, they turn a darker green to brown in the autumn before hibernating over the winter as adults.  Before seeking shelter they are seen in late summer and autumn sitting on plant foliage in the sun.  They are also visible in early summer when they lay small clusters of eggs on the undersides of leaves.  It occurs in a wide range of habitats, but towards the edge of its range seems to be more confined to woodland.  Farming areas can yield good numbers in crops like cabbage, cotton, etc. and in nearby roadside vegetation.  Many species will be drawn to lights at night.

Female ♀ Shield bugs lays several groups of 20-30 of barrel-shaped eggs on plant leaves which can number to over 200 eggs, these mature to wingless nymphs which crawl between plants to feed.  Both nymphs and adults feed on plant sap which they do with mouth parts specially adapted for sucking.  The life cycle from egg to adult takes about six weeks, and there can be two or more generations each year.  They over winter as adults, emerging from hibernation a bright green colour in May.  Larvae are often seen during the summer months with a generation of adults appearing in September.  They feed mainly on Hazel but also on other shrubs.  The Shield bugs alternative name, Green Stink Bug, refers to it's smell which it leaves as a trail over fruit and vegetation, and in large numbers this can spoil a crop, they will also make this smell if handled or disturbed, producing it from glands in the thorax.

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