Common name: Australasian shield bug/ New Zealand vegetable bug
Order: Hemiptera Family: Pentatomidae
Size: 13-18 mm
This native shield bug can be found throughout the North Island and the northern areas of the South Island of New Zealand, as well as in Australia, New Guinea and Timor. Like all the “true bugs” (Hemiptera), the Australasian shield bug has mouthparts that are modified to pierce and suck, which this species uses to feed on plant sap and berries. It can be found on a variety of native and introduced trees and shrubs, including various Coprosma species.
The Australasian shield bug looks quite similar to the green vegetable bug, Nezara viridula, but you can tell them apart by looking for three tiny white spots in a line on the surface of the body where the wings start. These white spots are absent on the Australasian shield bug.
Many New Zealander’s will know these bugs by their other common name: stink bugs! This species and others in the family Pentatomidae get their common name from the very strong smell that they give off when handled. The noxious smell is produced by a set of glands on the abdomen of nymphs or the base of the legs on adults, and are used to as an anti-predator defence.