Line Line
Striped Shield Bug Graphosoma italicum

The Striped Shieldbug is easily identified. It is a black bug with five distinct red lines on the pronotum. Or the other way around if you want... On the underside the Striped Shieldbug is red as well, but here it has black spots, not lines. Even though it is closely related to the Green Stinkbug and other foul smelling bugs, the Striped Shieldbug rather smells like apples. The taste however apparently appals all birds. In the Mediterranean there is another black and red species called Graphosoma semipunctatum. It is very similar except that on the pronotum it has 10 black dots, rather than lines. The larvae of the Striped Shieldbug are brownish and less conspicuous. Still it is not difficult to identify them, for a broad light line runs from the nose backwards to the end of the scutellum. The Striped Shieldbug is between 8 and 12mm long.

The eggs are being laid in spring. Larvae can be seen from June to September. In July the first adults may appear. This means that during most of summer and the beginning of autumn the animals may be seen in all stages of life, often in small groups. When the weather is bad as well as during hibernation the adults seek shelter, usually in crevices of trees. Both the larvae and the adults are fond of plants in the Carrot Family (Apiaceae), like the Wild Carrot and Chervils. Even though most of their food is obtained by sucking on plants, the nymphs will occasionally suck on larvae of other insects. The Striped Shield Bug is in hibernation for a rather long period of time: the animals are rarely seen from October to May.

The Striped Shieldbug is a Mediterranean species originally. In the eighties and nineties of the past century it suddenly moved northwards succesfully. Germany and Belgium were reached in the eighties, Holland and Denmark in the nineties. We do not know its current spreading in Britain. We do know though that it has reached the USA recently (New England). It favours dry, sandy soils.

In 2017 it was proven that actually there are two similar species of Striped Shield Bugs: Graphosoma italicum and Graphosoma lineatum. It was also proven that all Striped Shield Bugs in Europe are Graphosoma italicum. Graphosoma lineatum is an African species. Reason for the long lasting confusion was that Linnaeus described the species using museum stock of African origin. The name is also incorrectly spelled Graphosoma italica.