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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Field Guides & Natural History  Insects & other Invertebrates  Insects  Bugs (Hemiptera - Homoptera & Heteroptera)


Identification Key Monograph
Series: New Naturalist Series Volume: 147
By: Richard Jones(Author)
452 pages, 142 colour photos and ccolour & b/w illustration
Shieldbugs provides an accessible and well-illustrated general natural history to this insect species and is a welcome addition given the predominance of technical literature on this group.
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  • Shieldbugs ISBN: 9780008334918 Paperback Jul 2023 In stock
  • Shieldbugs ISBN: 9780008334895 Hardback Jul 2023 In stock
    £46.99 £64.99
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles
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About this book

*We will have a very limited number of bookplates signed by Richard for this edition, available while stocks last

Shieldbugs are lovely. Why else would we give them such an elegant heroic heraldic name? They are chunky, glossy, often large and strongly coloured and many are suitably shield-shaped. They walk with a friendly clockwork waddle or take to the air with a calm and confident buzz. Some give off a mild, oily almond scent if handled, but they do not bite, and even the few with prominent, sharp shoulder thorns are not considered dangerous. Though a couple of species might take an occasional liking to the broad beans growing at the back of the garden, most are seen as harmless and non-threatening. What's not to like?

Shieldbugs belong to the diverse insect order Hemiptera — a huge group of perhaps 100,000 species worldwide, which also includes aphids, whiteffies, scale insects, leafhoppers, froghoppers, spittlebugs, cicadas, lanternflies, capsids, bedbugs, water scorpions, water boatmen, backswimmers and water-skaters. Among this daunting biodiversity, large, bright shieldbugs offer themselves easily to the general field naturalist – part of a burgeoning array of stepping-stone insect groups like dragonflies, grasshoppers, bees and hoverflies. They are slightly more difficult to identify than butterflies and moths, but not as tricky as fleas or flea beetles. There are roughly 80 species recorded from the British Isles; many of them can be identified from a photo, or under a hand lens, when held gently between finger and thumb. Nevertheless, they offer a bright window through which to study nature, the environment, conservation and ecology.

As well as being an identification guide to Britain's shieldbugs (and others which might colonise in the near future), Richard Jones’ groundbreaking New Naturalist volume on shieldbugs encourages those enthusiasts who would otherwise be put off by the, to date, rather technical literature that has dominated the field, providing a comprehensive natural history of this fascinating and beautiful group of insects.


Editor's preface   vii
Author's foreword and acknowledgements   viii

1. What is a Shieldbug?   1
2. Shieldbug Structure   25
3. Life Histories: Breeding and Feeding   55
4. Dangers and Defences   93
5. Evolution of Shieldbugs and a History of British Species   123
6. History of Shieldbug Study   145
7. Key to British Shieldbug Species   187
8. British Shieldbug Species   225
9. How to Study Shieldbugs   371

Appendix 1: Selected British and Irish Shieldbug Foodplants   395
Appendix 2: Shieldbug-related Websites and Apps   400
Glossary   401
References   409
Picture Credits   420
Species Index   424
General Index   436

Customer Reviews (1)

  • A great book on shieldbugs
    By Keith 25 Aug 2023 Written for Paperback
    It always impresses me how the Collins New Naturalist team finds new subjects that it has not dealt with in the previous 146 volumes issued. These have appeared over a span of nearly 80 years, and although shieldbugs have been mentioned before, they have not been in the spotlight. Richard Jones has brought together much of what is known about the group in an excellent volume that takes a similar approach to his acclaimed NN title Beetles, published in 2018.

    This book deals with 79 shieldbug species in mainland Britain with a further eleven in the Channel Islands. This is a group of insects that prefers slightly warmer climates, so several species are at or close to the northern edge of their range in Britain. In fact, there are just 12 species in Scotland, while a further 16 species are potential colonisers from Europe as a result of our warming climate. Because Britain is isolated there are a few species that have not been seen for many years and may be extinct here.

    British interest in them started with the early pioneer naturalists who tackled insect groups with amazing dedication. This interest grew particularly after the publication of Land and Water Bugs of the British Isles in 1959 in the Warne Nature series. This is still widely respected but copies are in short supply. More recently, in 2005, Martin Evans and Roger Edmondson wrote A Photographic Guide to the Shieldbugs and Squashbugs of the British Isles and Bernard Nau created a laminated field chart Guide To Shieldbugs of The British Isles in the brilliant Field Studies Council fold-out chart series.

    Now we have this book which (like Jones’s book on Beetles) steps away from the standard NN format of texts with photos, to bring in a 37-page identification key and also detailed species accounts for all of our British species (and those that are predicted to arrive soon) – covering 145 pages. There are also chapters outlining shieldbug life, discussing their annual cycle, threats and their own defences. Shieldbugs have sucking mouthparts that allow them to extract sap from plants, but some species are predatory on the larvae of other insect species. In North America, they are generally known as Stinkbugs because of their ability to give off an odour when handled. This is not necessarily an offensive smell and can be quite sweet – a bit like marzipan. There is also a chapter on how to study shieldbugs and what kind of information to collect and two appendices help, providing details of foodplants that are preferred and extra resources to check, including websites and apps.

    I think shieldbugs are great – they are often colourful and easily spotted, and although they have two sets of wings they often stay put rather than fly away unless provoked. Unlike some of the more specialist insect groups, most of those in Britain have common names. In North America, some species of shieldbug are considered agricultural pests, but in Britain, that is not the case, and given that some feed on harmful insects they are to be welcomed.
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Richard Jones is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a past president of the British Entomological Society and author of several books on insects, wildlife and gardening. He also contributes articles on insects and the environment to several high-profile newspapers and magazines (including the Guardian, BBC Wildlife and Gardener's World Magazine), and appears regularly on radio and television.

Identification Key Monograph
Series: New Naturalist Series Volume: 147
By: Richard Jones(Author)
452 pages, 142 colour photos and ccolour & b/w illustration
Shieldbugs provides an accessible and well-illustrated general natural history to this insect species and is a welcome addition given the predominance of technical literature on this group.
Media reviews

"Shieldbugs have a long history of being ignored, and have almost no history before the 17th century [...] In the latest New Naturalist title, Richard Jones sets out to change all that, and put shieldbugs on the map. [...] Jones is my kind of author; he doesn't take either himself or his subject too seriously. The result is a book that is always engaging, consistently entertaining and occasionally downright hilarious. [...] In short, popular science of the highest order. Buy, read and enjoy."
– Ken Thompson, The Niche 55(2), summer 2024

"[...] This is probably the first time all these species have been described and illustrated so accessibly in one volume, and for this reason alone the book is worth owning, as a spur to recording shieldbugs – there is advice on how best to do that, too. [...] it will give shieldbugs their well-deserved place in the sun and inspire beginners and experienced entomologists alike to study and appreciate them."
– Brett Westwood, British Wildlife 35(5), April 2024

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