The word ‘bug’, for many of us brings up images in our minds of grotesque looking little creepy things scurrying under our pyjamas at night! Bugs are in fact a very large group of insects that contain some incredibly stunning individuals. There are different families of bugs, the most commonly known family would be the Shieldbugs. (See my blog on Shieldbug Identification for more on these – http://adventuresofawildlife.com/2012/08/02/shieldbug-identification-part-1/ .
There are many others such as Plant bugs, Groundbugs, Assassin bugs, Flowerbugs, Bedbugs and aquatic species such as Waterboatmen and Pond-skaters. There are in fact over 580 (and counting) species of bug in the British Isles in some 38 or so families.
In Blogs on Bugs I will be showcasing the bugs that I have found and hopefully highlight some key features in identification with the hope of assisting any readers with bug identification. When identifying bugs there are many clues to consider. Sometimes general appearance, colour and markings are sufficient. At other times subtle markings, length of hairs, antennae length etc need to be looked at closely. An important clue is to what plant it was found on as many species are associated with a particular plant species.
This edition focuses on what I found last summer. I hope to bring more this year. Hope you enjoy!
The following 4 species are Plant bugs.
This very handsome bug is Cyllecoris histrionius. The coloured markings are helpful in identification but the most distinct feature is yellowish collar below the head which can be seen in the photo below;
This species is found on Oak and feeds mainly on other small insects such as aphids. It will however feed on the young acorns and catkins of its associated tree.
A simple looking bug, this is Phylus melanocephalus. There are 3 Phylus species and the way to distinguish this one is by the distinctly dark head and bright red eyes. Another clue is that is found on Oak.
The colour of the forewings very from yellow to orangy-red.
The Potato Capsid (Closterotomus norwegicus) is a common and widespread plant bug and is one of a few similar green species. Just going on its general appearence isn’t really ideal and a couple of factors to confirm its identity are; the spines on the tibia are shorter than the width of the tibia and the 2nd segment of the antennae is about the same length as the 3rd and 4th segments combined. It feeds on number of different plants such as clovers and nettles which is where I found this one.
The two dark spots on the pronotum are distinctive but other similar species also have these spots.
This is Liocoris tripustulatus. Its a fairly distinctive bug with its 3 yellow spots (2 on the cuneus and then the pronotum). The depth of colours can be a little variable depending on age with this bug. I found it on nettle with which is is commonly associated.
The next 2 species are Groundbugs.
This is the Nettle Groundbug (Heterogaster urticae). It is recognisable by the alternate light and dark bands on the legs and edges of its body (connexivum). Also the head and pronotum are covered in long hairs. As the name suggests its host plants are nettles and to know surprise this was the plant I found it on.
In this photo you can see the light and dark bands on the legs quite clearly.
This is Scolopostethus thomsoni. Now there are 3 Scolopostethus species that are somewhat tricky to seperate. The main feature, though not always reliable, is that of the antennae; the last part of the 2nd antennal segment along with the 3rd and the 4th are dark, whereas the first part of the 2nd segment along with most of the 1st are lighter coloured, a sort of orangey-yellow. (You may just be able to see this the photos). I also found it on nettle with which it is commonly associated.
Below is the Common Flowerbug;
There are about 10 different Flowerbug species and these are probably the most difficult to seperate with examination of the genatalia sometimes needed. The commonest is Anthocoris nemorum (photographed). It’s the most likely that you will come across and a couple of features to note are that the body is shiny and not matt. Also, note the dark hourglass shape at the end of the body on the cuneus.
Anthocoris nemorum is a very common species and is found on a variety of plants. I found it on nettle. It is a predacious species that feeds on small invertebrates (mites, aphids etc).
This striking individual is a Rhopalid bug called Corizus hyoscyami. The markings are distinctive though at first glance it could be mistaken for other red and black bugs. It is distinctively hairy however. It is found mainly around the southern coasts but has been frequently found inland as of late. Inland is where I found it, in Kent.
All photos – Ashley Watson.