Sidney the Shield Bug

Today a shield bug came to join our garden teddy bear's picnic (at which there were three elephants, and two Tiggers but no teddy bears and no food!).  The shield bug was really quite large, maybe 15mm long. Subsequent Googling suggests it was a Common Green Shield Bug.  It wasn't overly perturbed by the attention of an over-enthusiastic toddler, and it was given the name Sidney.

After Sidney went for a stroll around the picnic rug, and three people's hands and arms, we had a closer look.  I pointed out its feet, six legs, eyes and antennae to try and encourage some careful observation.   We counted his six legs and I explained that he was an insect.  I gently showed one of the things Sidney's antennae could do by letting Sidney bump into my fingers and turn around to avoid the obstacle (they also provide a sense of smell, so are also the bug's nose).

After initially trying to pick Sidney up with a pincer grip (and therefore squash him, which we stopped quickly), the small boy was surprisingly gentle in touching Sidney's antennae and he grew quite fond of him, watching Sidney climb up the climbing frame and down again.

I took some photos of Sidney and enlarged them on my camera so he could see him more closely and his eyes were much more visible when magnified.  We returned to have a look at Sidney himself and the small boy showed me where his eyes were and explained to his brother about his antennae.  His baby brother was keen to touch Sidney but I doubted that Sidney would fare well from such an encounter so he observed from a distance!

'Sidney' ascending the climbing frame

We speculated about whether Sidney had wings; the small boy was unsure as he'd only seen Sidney walking.  However, the shield bug proved he did when they popped out of his shield-shaped body and he took flight across the garden!

He didn't respond to requests to return, so sadly we had to turn our attention to a black ladybird with red spots instead.  It was less straightforward to see its shorter legs and antenna but we discussed how they were both insects and had six legs and compared to spiders (including his favourite literary spider, Spinderella!) which have eight.

It was a nice chance encounter with a friendly shield bug on a sunny day which gave us a lovely opportunity to talk about insects..