I went on the DSPS Day Out to Monkswood on 3rd August, hoping to photograph some butterflies. There weren’t so many of them around, so I started to look for other interesting subjects.
One of them appeared to be, to my relatively untrained eye, a yellow shieldbug. Although I’ve seen various types of shieldbug in my garden, I’d never seen a yellow one before, so this struck me as unusual. When I returned home, I couldn’t find anything like it in any of my field guides and a search on the Internet also drew a blank. So, I contacted somebody at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust (who own Monkwood) and he passed me on to one of the experts in the County. To summarise his reply:
“This one is a gem. It’s the rare xanthochroistic form of Palomena prasina which I’ve never seen but which is known (from few individuals?) from England. The spines are unusual but Palomena prasina is inherently variable with some well-marked forms. The finder should return to the area and see whether this very striking colour-form extends more widely. So that is a good find there! If you do find any more then do let us know!”
Well, I didn’t understand all of that but it turns out that xanthochroistic means an unusually yellow pigmentation in an animal which is often associated with the lack of usual red pigmentation and its replacement with yellow, and Palomena prasina is the Common Green Shieldbug.
As it happens, somebody I know at Worcester Camera Club had also been to Monkwood earlier the same day and had seen a similar (maybe the same?) bug and had been equally mystified.
So, you never know what you might end up seeing on a DSPS Day Out!!