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SCUTELLERIDAE Shield-backed Bugs

Scutelleridae are known as shield-backed bugs, as the shield hiding the wings (scutellum) is continuous, not divided. Because they are usually brightly colored, they are also known as Jewel Bugs. These insects are plant suckers, closely related to stink bugs and may also produce offensive odours when disturbed.

Tectocoris diophthalmus (Cotton Harlequin Bug)

Cotton Harlequin Bugs feed on many plants in the hibiscus family (MALVACEAE), including ornamental hibiscus species and cotton. The bug feeds mostly on young shoots, piercing the stems and sucking the sugar-rich juices intended for shoot growth. Common during summer in gardens and parks.

Hibiscus Jewel Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Tectocoris diophthalmus (Cotton Harlequin Bug) adult from above

Hibiscus Jewel Bug
Photo: Mark Crocker

Tectocoris diophthalmus female guarding eggs


Hibiscus Jewel Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Tectocoris diophthalmus clustering nymphs


Clustering behaviour is an advantage to survival. The individual bugs have bad smelling scent glands and when it is emitted in one it triggers others in the group, multiplying the bad smell. Predators avoid bad-smelling, bad-tasting prey until they themselves evolve to deal with the smell, the taste and the toxins.

Hibiscus Jewel Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Tectocoris diophthalmus spent egg cases


Hibiscus Jewel Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Scutiphora pedicellata (nymphs)


Metallic shield bug, Scutiphora pedicellata, is commonly found sheltering in groups of 1020 in leaf litter or under bark, particularly around the bases of native trees. It feeds on vegetative growth, as well as on fruits.

Scutellerid Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Cantao parentum (Parent Bug)


Parent Bug is a 12 mm long jewel bug, orange with black splotches. This one is on its food plant, Mallotus claoxyloides (Smell of the Bush) resting on the ripe fruit.

Cantao parentum
Photo: Robert Whyte

Cantao parentum adult guarding eggs


Cantao parentum
Photo: Robert Whyte

Cantao parentum guarding young


Mallotus Harlequin Bug
Photo: Derek Boddington

Cantao parentum is so named because adults remain with their offspring for several weeks after they hatch to protect them from predators This is "relatively" rare behaviour in the insect world. The young in this image are about five days old.

Cantao parentum Nymphs


These nymphs are well developed - it won't be too long before they develop into adults. They react to disturbance reluctantly, eventually seeking refuge along the stems of the plant if contually disturbed, but return to clustering on leaves if they are left alone.

Cantao parentum
Photo: Robert Whyte

Lampromicra senator (adult)


Lampromicra senator is a bug whose food plant is Breynia oblongifolia (False Coffee Bush) a common plant in the Enoggera area. This photo shows Lampromicra senator sheltering on the undersides of a leaf of its food plant. Adults are capable of flying, which this one did. These sap sucking bugs form non-feeding clusters during hot dry periods, spreading out to feed again when conditions improve. In dry times they also congregate along creeks where the feeding is better.

Lampromicra senator
Photo: Robert Whyte