Garden AdviceShield Bugs and Your Garden
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Each year, with the arrival of bad weather, our homes are being charged by all kinds of pests. Every one of them wants to shelter with you, enjoying the abundance of food and warmth. One of these pests is the notorious stink bug, or shield bug, as it is largely popular here in the UK.
So, if you:
Then this post might be just what you need! Read on to find out more about these little stinkers and how you can keep them in check.
Shield bugs get around 2cm long and roughly the same in width. They have six legs and a pair of antennae. Adults have wings and are good flyers. Although they are not beetles, shield bugs may look like them.
The shield bugs belong to the “True Bugs” family, characterised by piercing-sucking mouthparts and a triangle shape on their backs that comes from the shape and structure of their wings. The younglings are called nymphs and have around five stages of growth before turning into adults, not including the egg and larvae stages of their life cycle.
The name “Stink bug” originates from this insect’s ability to release an odour through a special gland on its belly when disturbed or crushed. Such defence mechanisms are used by lots of other insects. In the UK, this particular insect is more commonly known as a “Shield bug” thanks to its shape.
There are over 4700 types of stink bugs. However, you can spot mainly two species in the UK. The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), which is an invasive species from Asia, and the local green shield bug (Palomena prasina). They both are close relatives of the family Pentatomidae, and as you can deduct from their names, both species are easily distinguishable by their colour.
The brown marmorated stink bug carries white marks on its back, similar to the markings on marble, hence the name. This is the most visible characteristic you can use to distinguish the brown marmorated bug from the common green shield bug with the approach of the winter months. That’s because, during this period, the green shield bug shifts its colour to brown. It does that to better camouflage itself in its changing surroundings.
You can also spot the predatory shield bug (Picromerus bidens), which looks a lot like a brown marmorated stink bug. Its main difference is its sharp shoulders. This species can often be found in gardens and can actually be quite beneficial.
Adults shield bugs will have a pair of fully developed wings that they fold on top of their bodies. This is how you can easily identify a nymph from an adult, as nymphs have no wings.
The nymphs of the brown marmorated stink bugs are yellow and red. They have bright red eyes during all nymph stages. The nymphs of the green shield bugs are different shades of green throughout their stages and carry red stripes on their antennae.
The transition between nymph stages happens through moulting. Each time a nymph moults, it sheds its skin and gets a bit bigger.
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As the shield bug has a decent size of roughly two centimetres long and wide, the buzzing from its wings can be quite loud. Not only that, but when disturbed or crushed, green shield bugs let out a pheromone from glands around their back that has a particular musty odour. This usually protects them from predators and disgusts humans as well.
All shield bug species tend to stick together in large groups, so if you find one or two inside your property, you best believe there are more. Shield bugs often group together in clumps to survive colder temperatures. You can find them in cracks and crevices somewhere warm and dry. Especially if you have a lot of indoor plants, they will be happy to take the offer.
These insects don’t pose a threat to human health. There are no known diseases spread by them, and they don’t cause structural damage to properties. Although, they could be a nuisance when buzzing around your home at night, looking for a warm surface to land on or hovering around a light source.
Shield bugs feed on plants’ sap and don’t bite people. However, although their mouth can’t pierce the skin, they release chemicals that can cause allergic reactions. Some of the symptoms include a runny nose, and you might experience dermatitis if you come into contact with crushed bugs.
Shield bugs are drawn towards our homes with the approach of colder weather. They gather around light sources and love getting sunbaths. You can often see larger groups of shield bugs resting on a wall that is hit by the sun. As the evening hours approach and the sun starts to set, they tend to search for entry points towards the warmth and light they sense from the inside. Thanks to their flat bodies, they can easily slip through small gaps and cracks.
So, here are some steps you can take to keep bugs out in general:
These steps will prevent a large array of pests from entering your property, so if you notice any intruders, those should be on your to-do list.
Specifically for shield bugs, you should:
Shield bugs love to take hitchhikes inside your property, so keep an eye out for them. Additionally, you can regularly treat the perimeter of your house with insecticide to limit any insects crawling inside. However, if you need help to get rid of the shield bugs, you can rely on professional pest control services.
The experts are familiar with the different insecticides and how to apply them. If you are dealing with an in-house infestation, a fumigation service or general fogging service will help eliminate unwanted guests.
Call in a professional to inspect and treat your property.
Do you have any personal experience with shieldbugs? We will be glad to read all about them in the comments section! Please, share!
Image source: Shutterstock / Cherries