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Bug of the Week: Shield-backed Bug

After so many years of taking photographs of insects in the immediate area, it is still possible to find something new. Take for example this brown bug I found on the petals of a Mexican hat flower.

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It turned out to be a shield-backed bug, family Scutelleridae.

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Shield-backed bugs are relatives of stink bugs, and in fact they used to be in the same family. However, the scutellum (a part of the thorax) is much larger and covers the entire abdomen, including the wings. This structure resembles the hardened elytra of beetles and at first glance shield-backed bugs do look like beetles.

Like some of the more familiar stink bugs, shield-backed bugs feed on plants, particularly members of the family Asteraceae, to which Mexican hat plants belong. They have sucking mouthparts that they use to suck plant juices.

Also like stink bugs, shield-backed bugs have defensive glands that release a pungent scent if the insect is threatened or disturbed.

Discovering a whole new (to me) family of insects this week is quite exciting.

Have you seen any interesting insects this week?

Have you ever seen a shield-backed bug before?

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