Blog Header

Blog Header

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A freshly moulted shield bug

Whilst picking blackcurrants one day I suddenly noticed a pale coloured bug and then realised it was in the final moment of moulting. My camera was nearby but I was deep within the currant bushes so had to get buggy onto my hand whilst grabbing the exuvia with the other, then extricate myself and get to my camera. The bug was happy to wander around on my hand whilst I took photos and then I put it back onto a currant leaf. At the time I didn't know what kind of bug it was, but after looking at the exuvia (the moulted skin), I think I have managed to ID it as a Forest Bug (aka Red-legged Shield Bug), Pentatoma rufipes.

From the British Bugs website:

A large brown shieldbug which has orange legs and slightly hooked projections at the front of the pronotum. The pale spot at the tip of the scutellum varies from orange to cream.

This species overwinters as young nymphs, which feed mainly on oak. Alder, hazel and other decidous trees are also used, including apple and cherry. Adults are partly predatory, feeding on caterpillars and other insects as well as fruits.

New adults may be found from July onwards, surviving until the late autumn, and eggs are laid in August. Adults can sometimes be found in the early spring, suggesting that a secondary breeding cycle may be possible. Widespread and common across Britain in wooded areas, orchards and gardens.

Adult: July-November
Length 11-14 mm

Link to this site further down in the post.

Such a cool critter freshly emerged from a moult.

Checking my watch strap out.
My arms are not that hairy, by the way. The camera lies!

I wonder how long they take to change to the final adult colouration....
I couldn't exactly keep it to find out!

The exuvia upside down and head end towards us.
I find these things so fascinating, look at those eyes and what looks like a proboscis!

Right way up and back end towards us.

There are few photos on the web of this bug after a moult; in fact I could only find two. One is on the British Bugs website with a picture of a teneral adult, and the other on fellow bug lover JJ's blog - he has a great picture on this post of one actually in the process of moulting! In fact it was thanks to photos by JJ and also Amanda (The Quiet Walker) that I was able to ID the bug below, that I hadn't realised was the final instar nymph of the Forest Bug. 

Final instar nymph of Forest Bug (Pentatoma rufipes) on a scabby looking pear in my orchard.

Another Forest Bug nymph that I saw the same day,
funnily enough beside another orchard.

They are not easy to photograph as I've only seen them in shady places (not surprising given their name and habitat!) and the adults are shiny and reflect light. 

Adult Forest Bug (Pentatoma rufipes).

Forest Bug adult on a gooseberry bush.

Last night I finally managed to stay awake and get outside after dark armed with some torches to see what I could find out there. I found quite a number of the adult bugs on the trunks of trees - now as far as I know, they are not nocturnal, so I'm wondering if they were there during the day and I never noticed? I need to find out!

Forest Bug at night on tree trunk, taken using the little-used pop up flash of my SX50 and torch light.


  1. Such a handsome fellow. So exciting to see a fresh! Your night search reminds me I want to set up a sheet when I get back. With all the rain lately, it's a good time for it!

    1. Thanks Marianne and yes I want to do something with a sheet and light too... I went out to search for something which I'll share in due course and also was interested to see if moths were attracted to the torch light - they weren't really but I could see lots flitting about!

  2. How exciting to find one freshly molted, great colour all yellow a bit like the ladybird you found. At the end of this years bug hunt I think a Sheild bug will still be my faviouret bug I have found, I just think they are stunning.
    Thanks for the mention,
    Amanda xx

    1. It was exciting because so unexpected, yet if I go specifically looking I'll never find this sort of thing, so that's why I barely go out of the door without my camera anymore! Cos I just know I'll see something interesting at unexpected moments if I don't.
      Thanks Amanda and you are welcome. xx

  3. Yes, it's sod's law that the very time you leave your camera behind is the one time you'll see something special-great idea to always have one with you. Hello Mandy! Apologies but have been rather distracted of late! Anyhow, these photos are fabulous again and such a treat for you to find a fresh bug like this. Nature keeps me interested with things like this that most folks won't ever see, mainly because they won't be looking. Beautifully done and presented. You are having a good summer there by the look of these updates.

    1. I've learned too many times that I will see cool things if I don't have a camera.... Hi JJ and there is no need to apologise. It's summer and we're all busy, though I should spend more time doing some actual gardening rather than recording what I find in it! Thanks very much. :-)

  4. Brilliant work! The shots are spot on and the blog/writing is well done.
    I am impressed Miss Mandy :)

    1. Thanks very much and glad you enjoyed it, Miss April. :-)

  5. I'm finally catching up with your posts here, Mandy. You are having a wonderful bug-filled summer that is for sure! I wish I had that much variety in my garden!
    Your photos are excellent and so helpful for others who may be trying to ID this bug. Great work!

    1. Thanks again Kim! Loads of bugs this year and I'm enjoying finding things like eggs and seeing what they turn into and discovering critters that have just moulted or pupated, like the recent ladybird. I'm also following the saga of outdoor swallowtails, both cats and chrysalises, and will do a post about them in due course as it's very different to my pampered indoor ones!