The Jewel Bug, also known as the Metallic Shield Bug, is a fascinating and colorful insect belonging to the Scutelleridae family. Its vibrant, iridescent exoskeleton makes it a highly attractive creature to observe in nature. These small critters can be found in various environments, from gardens to forests, depending on the specific species.
There are approximately 450 documented species of Jewel Bugs worldwide, each showcasing its unique metallic hues and intricate patterns. They primarily feed on plant sap, and some species are even considered agricultural pests due to their potential to damage crops.
As captivating as their appearance may be, Jewel Bugs also exhibit interesting behaviors. For example, when threatened, they emit a foul-smelling scent as a defense mechanism to deter predators. Additionally, their unique exoskeleton not only helps them blend in with their surroundings but also plays a crucial role in protecting them from potential threats.
Jewel Bug Basics
Jewel bugs (Scutelleridae) are a family of insects belonging to the Hemiptera order, and they are not to be confused with jewel beetles (Buprestidae). They are known for their brilliant, metallic colors and intricate patterns, which resemble precious jewels.
Determining factors of jewel bugs include:
- Bright, metallic colors (e.g., green, blue, red, and gold)
- Dome-shaped, convex bodies
- Shield-like shape, often oval or round
- Body length ranging from 5 to 20 mm
Jewel bugs inhabit various regions worldwide, mainly in the tropics. Some commonly found species include:
- Chrysocoris stolli in Asia
- Homaemus proteus in North America
- Calidea panaethiopica in Africa
The distribution of jewel bugs is heavily influenced by their host plants, as they are plant-sucking insects. They can be found on trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants.
Note: This table is a simplified representation and not a comprehensive list of all jewel bug species and their distribution.
Jewel bugs, also known as metallic shield bugs, belong to the family Scutelleridae. They are similar in size to shield bugs, with their body length ranging from 5 to 20 mm.
These insects have five-segmented antennae which they use for sensing their surroundings.
A prominent feature of jewel bugs is their enlarged scutellum, a triangular plate that covers the entire abdomen and wings.
The abdomen of jewel bugs is often hidden beneath the scutellum, and it plays a role in making these insects appear larger than they are.
The most striking feature of jewel bugs is their metallic shells. The reasons for these metallic colors include:
- Camouflage: Blending in with their environment to avoid predators
- Thermoregulation: Reflecting sunlight to maintain their body temperature
Some examples of jewel bugs include:
- Chrysocoris stolli – a vibrant green-colored species
- Scutiphora pedicellata – a species with a distinct golden hue
Comparison Table: Jewel Bugs vs. Shield Bugs
|Covers entire abdomen and wings
|Covers part of abdomen and wings
Behavior and Ecology
Jewel bugs, also known as Scutiphora pedicellata, belong to the family Pentatomidae within the order Heteroptera. These true bugs primarily feed on plant juices. Some examples of their preferred food sources include:
Jewel bugs undergo complete metamorphosis, which consists of four stages:
- Eggs: Laid on plants, often on the underside of leaves
- Nymphs: Hatch and start feeding on plant juices
- Pupae: Transition stage between nymph and adult
- Adults: Winged, colorful bugs that continue to feed on plants
Each stage plays a specific role in the life cycle of the Jewel bug.
|Small, round, often found on the underside of leaves
|Days to weeks
|Wingless, resemble small adults, molt multiple times
|Weeks to months
|Transition stage, dormant, protected by a cocoon
|Days to weeks
|Colorful, fully-grown bugs, capable of reproduction
|Months to years
Role in Ecosystem
Jewel bugs play several key roles within their ecosystems:
- They help control the population of their host plants by feeding on them
- As prey, they provide a food source for various predators such as birds and spiders
In summary, Jewel bugs contribute to the overall balance in their ecosystems, maintaining plant populations and supporting predator-prey relationships.
Jewel Bug Subfamilies
Elvisurinae is a subfamily of jewel bugs belonging to the family Scutelleridae. These tiny, metallic insects are often found in various colors, such as green, blue, and gold. Some notable features of Elvisurinae include:
- Small size
- Metallic appearance
- Vivid colors
Tectocorinae is another subfamily within the Scutelleridae family, also known for their vibrant colors and shining appearance. They may vary from Elvisurinae in certain aspects, such as size and shape. Tectocorinae’s characteristics are:
- Bright colors
- Shiny texture
- Slightly larger than Elvisurinae
These two subfamilies of jewel bugs not only fascinate bug enthusiasts but also researchers who study them for their unique features. Their colorful appearance and varying sizes make them distinguishable, attracting attention in the insect world.
Stink bugs are part of the Pentatomidae family. They are called stink bugs because they release a foul-smelling liquid when disturbed or crushed.
- Example: Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys)
- Shield-shaped body
- Produce a strong odor when threatened
- Can be a nuisance to farmers, damaging crops
Metallic Shield Bug
Metallic shield bugs are a type of shiny stink bug found in the Scutelleridae family. Like stink bugs, they sport a shield-like body shape.
- Example: Lychee shield bug (Chrysocoris stolli)
- Brilliant metallic colors
- Shield-shaped body
- Feed on leaves and flowers
Cotton Harlequin Bug
Cotton harlequin bugs, also known as Tectocoris diophthalmus, are part of the Scutelleridae family. They are commonly found in Australia.
- Example: Adult cotton harlequin bug
- Vibrant red, orange, or blue colors with black markings
- Shield-shaped body
- Can damage cotton plants
|Metallic Shield Bug
|Cotton Harlequin Bug
|Shiny stink bugs
|Vibrant Australian bugs
|Typical Body Shape
|Brown or green
|Red, orange, or blue
|Leaves and flowers
|Primarily cotton plants
These related bugs share common features like shield-shaped bodies, while differing in colors, geographic distribution, and feeding habits. By understanding their characteristics, you can better identify and manage them in your garden or agricultural setting.
Jewel beetles, often found in Australia, belong to the Family Buprestidae. They are known for their vibrant, metallic colors, making them visually attractive. Features of jewel beetles include:
- Metallic and colorful appearance
- Elongated, oval body shape
- Sizes ranging from small to large
One example of an Australian jewel beetle is the Chrysochroa fulgidissima, which showcases a strikingly bright, metallic green color.
Jewel beetle larvae play an essential role in the beetle’s life cycle. They typically:
- Feed on wood and plant materials
- Have elongated, flattened bodies
- Possess strong mandibles for chewing through wood
Larvae can cause damage to timber and trees, but they also contribute to the decomposition of dead plants. In this sense, jewel beetle larvae can be seen as both destructive and beneficial to their ecosystems.
|Found throughout the continent
|Found in various regions with diverse environments
Remember to always be cautious around insects, even if they appear colorful and friendly. Jewel beetles are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics, making them an intriguing subject for further study.
NGC 7027 is a young planetary nebula discovered by William Herschel in 1878. It is located approximately 3,000 light-years away from Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope has captured stunning images of this celestial object.
- Central star
- Bright, colorful gas clouds
- Highly compact structure
Example: A good example of a shedding star is the central star in the famous Ring Nebula.
A planetary nebula is a celestial object formed from the outer layers of a dying star. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with NGC 7027 being a compact and relatively young example.
- Short-lived (a few thousand years)
- Ejected gas and dust from the central star
- Often display a range of colors
Here’s a comparison table of NGC 7027 and another well-known planetary nebula, the Ring Nebula:
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Red Jewel Bug: Can This Species Fly???
Shiny mostly red beetle
Location: Serpentine Falls Park, WA Australia
December 20, 2010 2:22 am
We saw this bug on somebody’s shirt yesterday afternoon near Serpentine Falls WA Australia. None of us could identify it but I got a pretty decent photo. I was surprised to not see any visible split in the shell. Any idea what this might be?
True Bugs are often mistaken for beetles. Your insect is a Red Jewel Bug, Choerocoris paganus, in the Shield Bug Family Scutelleridae which we identified on the Insects of Brisbane website. The Indigenous Flora and Fauna website, which identifies this species as the Ground Shield Bug states: “The Shield bugs resemble beetles with their tortoise-like shell. However, whereas in beetles this is formed by the hardened and thickened forewings, in Shield bugs the shell is formed by the greatly enlarged scutellum (which is like a tiny triangular plate between the wings of other insects). The patterns on this species vary markedly depending on the stage of growth (‘instar’). Females are basically orange with metallic green spots while males are blood red with metallic green blotches but there are many variations. The bugs are commonly noticed in aggregations of dozens.“ We would love to find some information on the wing structure of this species, but our initial web searching has not provided any information on the phenomenon that you noted. You indicate that there is no visible split in the shell, and that would be an indication of a fused wing structure which would render this species flightless which might be why it is commonly called a Ground Shield Bug. We hope one of our readers is able to provide information regarding the probability that the Red Jewel Bug is flightless.
Letter 2 – Jewel Bug from Australia
What’s this bug?
Location: Cronulla 2230, NSW, Australia
February 16, 2012 3:14 am
Hi, this bug actually flew into my forehead! I live right on Cronulla beach south of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Currently summer but not the usual summer, averaging 27 degrees. Not hot.
Just curious as to what this is, have never seen anything like it before.
Your Jewel Bug Square is elegantly simple, diagonally dynamic, triadic in its color palatte and positively gorgeous. We need more time to try to research this comely member of the family Scutellaridae. Perhaps it is an atypically colored Cotton Harlequin Bug, Tectocoris diophthalmus, like the one pictured on Life Unseen, or perhaps it is the Hibiscus Harlequin Bug, Tectocoris diophthalmus, which is pictured on FlickR. The Ocean Wide Images website has some exquisite group photos of Tectocoris diophthalmus. We really want to adapt this simple, geometric and colorful pattern into a quilt square.
Letter 3 – Unknown Jewel Bug from the Philippines
Jewel bugs from the Philippines
Location: Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines
April 27, 2011 7:39 am
Hello, these were pictures I took of a scutellerid (jewel bug) from the Philippines. They were quite numerous.
Only thing I know about them is that they scutellerid, probably Scutellerinae. They were feeding on Jatropha in our backyard, which doesn’t help narrow it down, LOL. The exact locality I photographed them in is in Bukidnon, Mindanao Island.
I am currently improving Wikipedia’s article on Scutelleridae (yes, I’m a Wikipedian), and I would like to include my photo, haha. Only thing is, it would look a bit out of place being unidentified. Might be a new species *waggles eyebrows*, but then again color patterns can vary even between adults in Scutelleridae heh. Haven’t seen any nymphs sadly, adults are quite large, about an inch in length (excluding antennae) Photos are here:
In terms of body shape, it most resembles Australian Scutiphora. However closest coloration patterns I can find are also all from unidentified scutellerids from nearby islands. Dorsal coloration is predominantly red, with two bands of iridiscent green-gold on the scutellum. The head and anterior part of the thorax are greenish blue. A black strip runs longitudinally in the center of the head from the rostrum.
Photos are licensed under CC-BY so use them in any way you please. Hoping you guys can help, thanks in advance.
Signature: Obsidian Soul
Dear Obsidian Soul,
Though we do not recognize your species of Jewel Bug, the photos are quite lovely. Perhaps our readership can provide you with a comment to our posting to assist in your Wikipedia posting.
Letter 4 – Unknown Green Metallic Jewel Bug from India
Can you identify this green bug?
Location: Palakkad, Kerala, India
January 16, 2011 11:38 am
I spotted this bug on an Otaheite gooseberry. Green, shiny, metallic. Didn’t see it flying.
Shieldback Bugs in the family Scutellaridae are often called Jewel Bugs when they are as brilliantly colored as your specimen. Once, back in 2007, we posted a similarly colored, but morphologically different Jewel Bug from India that we never properly identified. We also have a photo of a Lychee Shield Bug from India we posted last year that looks very similar. PestNet has another similar looking Jewel Bug from Malaysia that is identified as Calidea dregei. We found a blog called Lifescapes Gallery that indicates that Jewel Bugs are known as “ponvandu” in India and states: “these dazzlers were prized finds for entire generations of children whose stock rose or dipped with the extent of their bug collection, and thus were guarded zealously.” The internet is full of similar looking Jewel Bugs, but we could not substantiate any exact species name. Additionally, many are incorrectly identified as beetles.
Letter 5 – Jewel Bug from South Korea: Poecilocoris splendidulus
Subject: Colorful beetle in South Korea
Location: South Korea
May 15, 2014 3:36 am
I saw this beetle the other day near my office on a college campus in South Korea (it’s currently mid-May). I’ve lived here for several years and have never seen an insect that looks anything like this. I asked around and nobody seems to know what it is. Any insights?
Signature: Jon Soderholm
This is not a beetle. It is a Jewel Bug in the family Scutelleridae, and our first matching images are on the What Went Wrong? blog, but the species is not correctly identified. Your individual looks similar to the Poecilocoris lewisi which is pictured on a postage stamp from Japan on the Asahi Net site, however other images of that species look quite different. At this time, we are unable to provide a species identification for you, but we are confident that it is a Jewel Bug in the family Scutelleridae.
Firstly, Thank you so much for a quick response… you guys are fast… Impressive! May I ask another question? It seems that this Jewel Bug resides in Japan normally. Nobody that I’ve talked to here in Korea seems to have seen one… How did it get here? and why…. (Korea and Japan have similar weather patterns) Or, is it always here, just rarely seen? As a scientist myself, I’m curious.
Based on the info that you gave me, I was able to find images on the web of bugs of the species poecilocoris splendidulus, that look just like what I saw… thanks once again!
Thanks Jon. We found an image of a mating pair of Poecilocoris splendidulus from Japan on AnimalsandEarth.
Letter 6 – Mystery of the Month solved thanks to Karl: Bellyache Bush Jewel Bug from Trinidad and Tobago
Shield Bugs apparent male and female?
April 4, 2010
These bugs where taken in October 09 on the north coast of Trinidad of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago, they were sparsely abundant feeding on a type of stinging nettle of sorts about 21/2 meters high.
Trinidad & Tobago
First, we are not certain what Hemipteran family these True bugs belong to, but our best amateur guess would be Bordered Plant Bugs in the family Largidae or Scentless Plant Bugs in the family Rhopalidae. Second, we are not certain if they are the same species or closely related species. We find it difficult to believe that there would be this degree of sexual dimorphism in a species, but it is possible that there might be drastically different color variations within the species. It is also difficult to ascertain if both individuals are winged, indicating adults and not nymphs. We would lean toward closely related species. We are tagging this as a Mystery of the Month so it will remain on the top of our homepage until we get some sort of response, or until it is replaced by a bigger mystery.
Thank you for taking of your valuable time to reply to my query so speedily, I am very grateful indeed. Why I leant towards the fact that these individuals might have been male and female was because I found a photo (attached) on the net a few weeks ago (No info was available with photo) of an identical striped one as in my photo mating with one very similar to the spotted one except the spots were barely visible if as in my photo! But I accept your opinion and I promise when I come across them again I will be much more thorough and and observe them longer next time. I do hope that you can get a fix on the species name etc. for me. May I send you other Bugs from time to time? I do not have a credit card, I would like to send a donation is there another way to send or would you be content with getting pics from time to time, please advise!
Best regards – Roger
Thanks so much for supplying this photo snatched from the internet. They do appear to be the same species you have photographed. We are very conscious of copyright infringement, which is why we only post images that were submitted by the authors, but in this case, we are making an exception. Do you recall where you found this image? We would much rather supply a link to it than to post the image on What’s That Bug? We recant our earlier suppositions, and we now agree that this Hemipteran either has an extremely developed sexual dimorphism, or there are multiple color morphs of the species that are not limited by sex. We won’t know the actual answer until we identify this elusive mystery. Generous contributions to our web site are always appreciated, but it is not a requirement for having photos and letters posted to our site.
I am delighted that this new image has been useful in narrowing the mystery to the actual ID of this rather lovely bug. I fully support and endorse your policy of copyright infringement, as such I have chosen to redeem our exception to the rule by searching my ‘history files’ to relocate the origins of the work. I am pleased to say that I have been able to locate the source, and perhaps the author may be of more assistance! The source link is; www.flickr.com/ photos/riomanso/ and the authors name is RN Riomanso. I have a few more bugs on flickr you may care to ID.
Could you advise me as to how I would title this species in an article, given the fact that the species and/or genus is not clear? In other words what is for sure? Sorry to sound so clueless!
Cheers – Roger
Thanks for the link. I would recommend giving this a few days to see if anyone writes in with an identification. The best thing for you to do is to provide a comment on the posting and then you will automatically be notified if anyone supplies a comment in the future.
Karl Solves the Mystery
Hi Daniel and Roger:
The species is Agonosoma trilineatum (Scutelleridae) and, somewhat curiously, the best information about it comes from Australia, where it is called the “Bellyache Bush Jewel Bug”. The Bellyache Bush, Jatropha gossypiifolia (Euphorbiaceae) is a toxic native plant of the tropical Americas and Caribbean that has become a serious invasive pest in northern Australia. Apparently, A. trilineatum is a natural enemy of the Bellyache Bush in its natural range, and it was released in Australia as a biological control agent in 2002. According to an Australian Department of Primary Industry Agnote, “The bug inserts its mouthparts into bellyache bush fruit and injects a liquid into the seed, which dissolves it. It then sucks up the liquid. This method of feeding destroys seeds before they develop.” The same paper also has a good image of the spotted female and striped male. Great stuff! Regards.
Dear Karl and Daniel:
Thanks awfully for putting me out of my misery, your identification and fascinating report were far more that I expected, it had me hopping in my seat with excitement reading this amazing account of the species… Wow! Wicked job guys. They really are quite attractive Bugs aren’t they?
Very best regards – Roger
P.s. If ever either of you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago, look me up for sure, we’ll do a sortie into the sticks and find some more Bugs!
Letter 7 – Immature Jewel Bug from South Korea
Subject: What is this jewel looking bug!
Location: South Korea
August 25, 2017 1:14 AM
Help with identityfing this bug
This is an immature Shield Bug in the family Scutellaridae, and interestingly, they are commonly called Jewel Bugs because of their bright, metallic coloration. Your individual resembles this individual posted to FlickRiver.
Letter 8 – Jewel Bug from Fiji
Subject: Metallic Green w/ black pattern
Geographic location of the bug: Taveuni, Fiji
Time: 05:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Is this a jewel beetle? It had landed on this floating seed pod and had not quite tucked his wing away. My underwater camera was already set up for macro so I wiped the lens and shot topside.
Roughly about 2 cm. Segmented antennae. Hard shell. Small thorax.
How you want your letter signed: Richard
This is not a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae. It is not a beetle at all. This is a Shield Bug in the family Scutelleridae, and because of their often bright, metallic colors, they are sometimes commonly called Jewel Bugs. So this is a Jewel Bug, not a Jewel Beetle. We have not had much luck identifying the species, but we did locate a matching image on The Organic Bunny blog, but you have to scroll down to see the unidentified image.
Thank you so much! You are the best!
Letter 9 – Jewel Bug from Mexico
Subject: Brown and Yellow Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug: Central Mexico
Time: 11:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi WTB! I’ve looked high and low trying to identify this beetle(?) but have had no luck so far. I saw many of them on the leaves of plants in the fields near my house in Mexico. This was taken in September a few years back. It was in a canyon in the desert if that helps. Any ideas? Thanks!
How you want your letter signed: Danny
Letter 10 – Jewel Bug from South Korea: Poecilocoris splendidulus
Subject: Large orange and green beetle in Korea
Location: South Korea
June 29, 2014 5:26 am
We saw this large beetle in late June in the mountains of South Korea. It flew onto my wife and hung out for a while before flying away. I’ve never seen anything like it.
This is actually a Jewel Bug in the family Scutelleridae, not a beetle. A few months ago, we correctly identified this species as Poecilocoris splendidulus.
Letter 11 – Metallic Jewel Bugs
Subject: Beetles in New South Wales
Location: Royal National Park, NSW, Australia
December 20, 2012 7:12 am
When walking a couple of days ago in rainforest near the coast in the Royal National Park (close to Sydney) this December I saw these fantastic looking beetles. I’ve never seen anything like them before.
Do you have any idea what they are?? Hope you can help! Thanks.
These are not beetles. They are Metallic Jewel Bugs, Scutiphora pedicellata, and they are True Bugs in the Shield Bug family Scutelleridae. You can find additional photos and information on the Brisbane Insect Website. A similar aggregation is pictured on the Brisbane Insect Website, and this information is provided: “On mid summer Dec 2008, Tracey in Sydney sent us the above photos and concerned about so many of those bugs on exposed roots and trunk of tree in her backyard. We know that for some insects, includes some shield bugs, females use Pheromone to attract males. Sometimes a number of males detect the smell of females and gather together around them. We never saw so many Metallic Jewel Bugs in one place and do not know why they were there.” We thought we had representatives of this species in our archive, but we cannot locate any.
Since we don’t seem to have any other images in our archives, we are moving in as close as possible in magnification to the one attached photo.
That’s really interesting. Thanks so much.
Letter 12 – Green Jewel Bug from India
Identify shiny blue bug in photo
May 4, 2010
I think this is a jewel bug. It was found at a height of about 1.5 m over the ground, on the leaf of a creeper. The area had lots of trees.
The bug was spotted on April 10th 2010, The winter had ended and hot summer was begining.
Evan John Philip, NISER
Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India.
We really don’t have time to track down the species, but this appears to be a Shield Bug and some species are called Jewel Bugs. Your photo is so gorgeous that we want to post it. Perhaps one of our readers will have time to post a comment with a correct identification before we return.
Update: December 7, 2016
Thanks Curious Girl for informing us that this is a Green Jewel Bug, Lampromicra senator.
Letter 13 – Red Jewel Bug from Australia
Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Secret Harbour Beach
February 3, 2017 8:17 pm
Can you please identify this bug? Thank youuuu
Signature: With an answer please
This appears to be a Red Jewel Bug, Choerocoris paganus.
Omg thank you so so much
Letter 14 – Unknown Jewel Bug from the Philippines
Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines
July 5, 2011 7:22 am
Found this very colorful bug today. Haven’t seen anything like this before.
Several months ago we posted some photos of the Jewel Bug, but despite our research, we have still not identified the species.