Birch Shield Bug

Birch Shield Bug ©Ian A Kirk

Birch shieldbug

Scientific name: Elasmostethus interstinctus
As its name suggests, the birch shieldbug can be found feeding on silver birch, and sometimes hazel, in mixed woodland. Adults hibernate over winter, emerging in spring to lay their eggs.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 0.8-1.1cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to October

About

A smaller relative of the hawthorn shieldbug, adults of the red-and-green birch shieldbug are particularly abundant in the early autumn. They go into hibernation over the winter, emerging again in spring to lay their eggs. The nymphs hatch and develop in summer, feeding on silver birch and sometimes hazel.

How to identify

The birch shieldbug is green, red and brown - similar to the hawthorn shieldbug. But it is smaller, has slightly duller colouration, and does not have the projecting shoulders.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Most shieldbugs feed on plant sap and, although some can become pests of crops, most gardeners enjoy their presence. To digest the sap, shieldbugs need the help of symbiotic bacteria. To ensure they get the best start in life, the female will smear her eggs with these bacteria so that the young nymphs ingest them as they feed on the egg case.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.