Monday, 15 August 2011

Lambs ears shieldbugs

Although I keep Lambs ears (Stachys byzantina) in the garden for the benefit of the Wool Carder bees this plant also attracts many other bugs. They provide a lot of structure with their large woolly leaves, and spiders, harvestmen and ladybirds are often found on them. They also offer sheltered overwintering opportunities. My other favourite lambs ears bug is a true bug, the pretty shieldbug Eysarcoris venustissimus, also known as the Woundwort shieldbug, as their usual feeding plant is the native Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica). This is a small shiny bug that appears in a single generation per year. The adults are bronze, grey and white with fine black speckling. They emerge from hibernation in April and can be found mating on May. Females lay their eggs in Stachys plants. Nymphs can be easily found on July and August and by September there is a new adult generation. Today, I watched at least nine nymphs in various stages of development on the Stachys plant. Nymphs are green and black or pinkish and black. All the nymph photos were taken today. 
An early instar nymph. The object near it are seeds of Circaea luthethiana
A group of Wounwort shieldbugs with a green shieldbug nymph.
A last instar nymph. They can be recognised by their black wing buds
A mating pair on Stachys bizantina (11/5/11)
UPDATE 25/08/11. Replaced a photo with the early instar one.

4 comments:

Ray said...

After you first mentioned about this, I searched and searched but didn't find a single shieldbug on Lambs Ears.

Did you find any Woundwort Shieldbug eggs on the Lambs ears?

Ray

Blackbird said...

I have never seen eggs from this species. Where are they normally laid in the plant?

Ray said...

On Hedge Woundwort they are laid on the underside of the sepals - the small leaves that surround the flower head.
http://flic.kr/p/9WCakA
__
*I have some evidence that Hairy Shieldbugs ( Dolycoris baccarum ) sometimes mimic this behaviour.


I have however recently seen one batch in my garden where they were laid in a calix directly on top of mature seeds.

http://flic.kr/p/a6ZQSk
&
http://flic.kr/p/a9rd5D
These were laid post-cop of 10 July - mating continues long after May is out. :)
-------------
Were you aware of this: http://flic.kr/p/adiL61

Ray

Blackbird said...

Wow Ray, those are such good photos, well observed. I will keep an eye on those eggs - next year I guess. I checked my Hedge Woundwort and couldn't find any, but I had the plants there only one year. I didn't know about the other species. They are quite similar.