I think of shield bugs (stink bugs) as mainly being sap suckers. So I was surprised yesterday when I saw this strikingly coloured bug sucking the living daylights out of a caterpillar of the large white butterfly.
The bug was very alert and not at all keen to have its photograph taken: as I snapped, it tried to drag its caterpillar prey to the underside of the leaf; then it decided to move onto the red nasturtium flower – perhaps thinking it would be better hidden.
I couldn’t find the bug in my books, but via Google and the British Bugs website, I think it is a bronze shield bug (Troilus luridus). One of only four species of predatory/carnivorous shield bugs in the UK.
The bug is still on that patch of nasturtiums today and has moved on to an even bigger caterpillar.
This is a juvenile stage of the bug, but it will soon be mature and then it will have the more classical “shield” shape and will be a much duller (and bronzey) looking bug altogether.
Incidentally, most everything is at least a fortnight “late” in the garden this year: the main influx of butterflies (and hence eggs and caterpillars) only really arrived at the start of September