The FSC Shieldbugs guide features colour photographs of 45 shieldbugs and leatherbugs from Britain and Ireland.
Accompanying text on the reverse side includes a table of identification characteristics for each species, covering body length, body structure, colours, habitat, rarity, and distribution in the British Isles. Their young (called nymphs) pass through several moults, becoming more like adults at each stage, so this guide includes late instar nymphs where distinctive.
Shieldbugs look somewhat like beetles but have sucking mouthparts instead of mandibles. Behind the head there is a large plate (the pronotum) which adjoins the head and spans the width of the bug. To the rear of this is a smaller plate, the scutellum, which is usually more or less triangular. In a few shieldbug species the scutellum is much enlarged to an ovate form, almost entirely covering the wings. It is the scutellum, meaning ‘small shield’, that gives shieldbugs their common name. There are two pairs of wings, folded flat over the back when not in use. The fore-wings are mostly leathery and this area forms the corium.
Many shieldbugs are colourful, and even have metallic colours. The apparent colour of shieldbugs results from a combination of two things: the background colour and surface punctures. The colour, size and spacing of the punctures can vary, which affects the apparent colour of the shieldbug. For example, a shieldbug with closely spaced black punctures on a yellow background will appear to be dark brown.
Note that this guide covers shieldbugs of the British Isles belonging to the families Acanthosomatidae, Cydnidae, Scutelleridae, Thyreocoridae, and Pentatomidae, as well as the ‘honorary shieldbugs’ from the family Coreidae.
The Shieldbugs guide was produced in partnership with the Royal Entomological Society.