Parent Bug

Elasmucha grisea

About

Also largely tied to Silver Birch, the peculiar Parent Bug looks much like the Birch Shield Bug at first glance. But closer examination of the flanks will show that where the Birch Shield Bug is pale green, the Parent Bug is banded with black and cream. The real difference, however, can be seen in their behaviour. Whilst the other shield bugs lay their eggs and then leave their young to fend for themselves, the Parent Bug is a dedicated mother. She lays her eggs in a tight cluster on the underside of a Birch leaf, and then she broods her clutch, sitting protectively over the eggs until they hatch. She stays with her family until the young finally become adults.

How to identify

The Parent Bug is only likely to be confused with the Birch Shield Bug, which also feeds on Birch catkins. The Birch Shield Bug is more brightly coloured, with plain green sides to the body, whereas the Parent Bug is duller in colour, with a black- and cream-chequered pattern along its sides.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Since the 1930s, we have lost almost half of our woodland to intensive agricultural practices and development, resulting in a dramatic loss of habitat for the creatures that live in dead and decaying wood. But you can help our minibeasts: by simply providing a small pile of logs in your garden, you'll make a refuge for everything from shield bugs to wood wasps, and a hunting ground for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

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Species information

Common name
Parent Bug
Latin name
Elasmucha grisea
Category
Invertebrates
Bugs
Statistics
Length: 7-9mm
Conservation status
Common.