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Reply to Compost Queen and Anne
I got into trouble with a reader of a certain gardening magazine a few years ago. I blithely wrote that green shieldbugs were harmless in the garden, because even though they sucked plant sap, they mainly chose wild plants and never really caused a problem. I got a stinging letter from someone telling me that the bugs had destroyed her bean crop. I still maintain they are not pests...unless of course, they reach pest proportions. They are lovely things and certainly not worth persecuting.
Reply to Ros
Green shieldbugs smell too. I think it's a nice smell, sort of rancid marzepan. But take care not to put it into your mouth because a marzepan or almond smell means Prussic acid, cyanide in other words. It really is a bitter taste and a good defence against birds trying to eat them.
Every year I run a bug hunt at Nunhead Cemetery in south-east London (17 May this year plug plug) and the children regularly bring a smaller relative, the bronze shieldbug. I put them into the palm of my hand and tap they to make them eject their scent then hold my cupped hand out for the kids to sniff. Some like the smell others don't. But by the end of the day my hand is stained brown.
And that reminds me of another time...in the rainforests of Costa Rica a huge brown shieldbug came buzzing out of the sky and I caught it in my bare hands. It promptly ejected its cyanide defense. The smell didn't bother me, but the brown stain on my fingers took a fortnight to wear off. Powerful stuff.