04 July 2013

Little Parent Bugs without a Parent

Approximately two and half years ago, I blogged about planting some citrus seeds from fruits that we used in the Christmas punch. Those were mostly lemons, but that winter I also planted about fifty seeds from a single very seedy yellow grapefruit. Now those seeds are young plants (I gave away some, but I still have about thirty, so if you are in Prague and want a little grapefruit plant, let me know!!) and right now they reside on the outer windowsil of my room. Last week, I had to bring them in because of bad weather (a very windy storm woke me up around midnight and I was afraid the wind might knock some pots off the windowsill, so I took them back in). Two days later, I discovered a group of little creatures that probably just hatched, on the lower side of a leaf.

Twenty-two parent bug hatchlings found home on one of my grapefruit plants

According to the opinions of my entomological friends, the creature pictured is most likely a parent bug (Elasmucha grisea) - a shield bug with sucking mouthparts, females of which guard eggs and hatchlings for several weeks. According to this website (perfect detailed pictures, have a look!!), these insects feed on alder and birch. As there are definitely no birch trees around where I live (alder possibly, but when I looked for it for my class, I did not find one), I think that choosing grapefruits was probably an accident.

Elasmucha grisea (?)

And why is the mother missing?? Well, I have a hypothesis! think that the strong windduring the storm must have knocked her down and blown her away, so the little ones were left unguarded. I have never particularly liked shield bugs, but this little adventure will stay in my mind for a long time and has quite changed my relationship to the whole group. Little things like this show me again and again how wonderful and diverse nature is and how much I still have to learn about it. And I lovearning by these rare little experiences : )


  1. Wow! Crazy that they found your plant. I've never seen these bugs before. Pretty neat. I learned something new today, for sure. You took great shots!

    1. Thank you!! I enjoy learning like this myself :) And I have a new camera, so I am taking pictures like crazy too :D


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