Summer is heating up and bug season is in full swing here and I don’t mean the mosquitoes. There are an estimated 85,000 species of bugs (Order Hemiptera meaning “half-winged”). Most go about their lives quietly and are seldom or not at all noticed by us. Some do get our attention if they are damaging crop or ornamental plants. This one in the above photo, the bronze shield-backed bug, Homaemus aenifrons, leads a very quiet life among the sedge and rush plants in marshes.
Homaemus aenifrons is a subtly colored northern member of an otherwise very colorful group of bugs known as shield-backed bugs (Family Scutelleridae).
Adult H. aenifrons is about 7 to 9 mm long and ovate in outline. The scutellum, a triangular shield-like segment of the thorax, nearly covers the abdomen. This and the rest of the thorax are dull to pale yellow with dark brown to black variegation. Pits, called punctures, on the lower thorax are fine and not numerous. The front basal corners (humeri) of the wings are round with entire (not toothed) margins. The lower abdomen is pale with irregularly placed coarse black punctures. The head is bronze-black and without pubescence or pale bands along the margin. There are numerous coarse pits on the heads surface.
H. aenifrons typical habitat is in marshes where it feeds on sedge (Carex) and rush (Juncus) but it can also be found in drier habitats of mixed upland prairie grasses. Like many northern species of shield-back bugs it overwinters as an adult.
Range and Distribution
H. aenifrons is a very common and widespread insect species found from Nova Scotia to Manitoba south to North Carolina and Nebraska. A subspecies, (H. a. ssp. consors), occurs from Alaska to Saskatchewan.
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera: (True Bugs including Cicadas, Leaf Hoppers, Aphids)
Suborder: Heteroptera (True Bugs)
Family: Scutelleridae (Shield-backed Bugs)
Genus and Species: Homaemus aeneifrons
Coming up soon another bug post. This one on the red-crossed shield bug (Elasmostethus cruciatus).
Bug Guide web page on Homaemus aeneifrons
McPherson, J. E. (1982). The Pentatomoidea (Hemiptera) of Northeastern North America. Southern Illinois University Press, 1982
Stoner, D. (1920). The Scutelleroidea of Iowa. University of Iowa Studies in Natural History. Vol. 8, No. 4:1-155.