One of the more noticeable features of a “true bug” (order Hemiptera) is a triangular piece of the thorax, called the scutellum. Maybe you’ve seen this triangle on the familiar Western Boxelder Bug. A Shield-backed Bug’s scutellum is not a triangle, instead it covers the entire back of the insect, concealing four membranous wings. If it wants to fly, it has to lift it like the trunk of a car to allow the wings to expand. Shield-backed Bugs feed on plants and seeds and are often found in dry, grassy, or shrubby habitats. There are five species in this genus in North America, with recorded host plants in the grass, sedge, rush, aster, verbena, heath, and rose families.
Photo by: Jen Marangelo on 8/16/21 near Condon, MT