The shield bug which you are most likely to come across is our largest species, the Hawthorn Shield Bug. This handsome green and red invertebrate can be found wherever suitable shrubby foodplants are available. Eggs are laid in spring and, over the summer, the nymphs feed on ripening red berries, particularly Hawthorn, but also feed Rowan, Whitebeam and Cotoneaster. The adults appear from late August and will often wander quite far from their foodplant, occasionally being attracted to lights at night, when they may turn up in moth traps. The adults go into hibernation in the late autumn, and then re-emerge to breed in the spring.
How to identify
There are five similar green and red shield bugs. The Gorse Shield Bug is more rounded than the Hawthorn Shield Bug, while the Hairy Shield Bug is covered in short hairs and has a black- and white-chequered pattern around the edge of the body. The Birch Shield Bug and Juniper Shield Bug are both similar in shape to the Hawthorn Shield Bug, but are much smaller and have a different red and green pattern.
Where to find it
When to find it
How can people help
Since the 1930s, we have lost almost half of our woodland to intensive agricultural practices and development, resulting in a dramatic loss of habitat for the creatures that live in dead and decaying wood. But you can help our minibeasts: by simply providing a small pile of logs in your garden, you'll make a refuge for everything from shield bugs to wood wasps, and a hunting ground for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.