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Some might think the Hawthorn Shield Bug has a rather unfortunate scientific name, Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale, but it’s really quite descriptive: acantho is from the ancient Greek for thorn, soma means body, and haemorrhoida derives from the Greek for discharging blood or bleeding, so this bug has a thorn-like body with red patterning that looks like bleeding. The common name is also appropriate: it has a body shaped like the shields of knights of olden times, and the food of choice for its larvae is the hawthorn berry (though they will also eat the berries of rowan, cotoneaster and whitebeam).

160125 Hawthorn Shieldbug (3)

Growing up to 17mm (0.67in) long, the Hawthorn Shield Bug is the largest and most common of the five types of shield bug found in Britain, and is also found throughout Europe, in woodlands, parks and gardens. Its colouring means it is usually very well camouflaged and I only found these three bugs by chance today – my eye was attracted to their leaf and they were inside when I uncurled it. The adult bugs usually hibernate during the winter months but often emerge to snack on the leaves during milder weather. I curled them back up in their leaf after taking these photographs so they could continue their snooze.

160125 Hawthorn Shieldbug (2)160125 Hawthorn Shieldbug (1)