One of our seasonal wardens, Polly Philpott, tells us of an unusual encounter at Flanders…
Flanders Moss NNR
Recently we found this pair of spiked shield bugs (Picromerus bidens) locked in an amorous embrace at the side of the boardwalk at Flanders. But on closer inspection things took on a decidedly more ominous atmosphere.
Whilst engaged in a spot of mating one individual had got peckish and was busy devouring a caterpillar at the same time. A great example of multi-tasking in the natural world.
Shield bugs can be mistaken for beetles but they are in fact members of the true bugs group; a key characteristic being their needle-like sucking mouthparts. These mouthparts are adapted for liquid food.
Most shield bugs feed solely on plant sap but these spiked shield bugs (so-called due to the fearsome looking spikes on their shoulders) are mainly carnivorous, feeding in this case on the liquid insides of this sorry looking caterpillar.
This particular shield bug was impressively determined not to give up its partner or its dinner, even in the windy conditions on the bog!
AN interesting sighting indeed and good photography to boot.
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