Dear Readers, one of the advantages of being a lover of invertebrates is that, during this hot weather, all manner of creatures have flown into the house. The house flies and green bottles are something of a nuisance, but then there are animals like this tiny bug with its very impressive red and black patterning. I rather think that it looks like an impressive African mask.
This is a Cinnamon bug, or Black and Red Squash Bug (Corizus hyoscyami), also known as a ‘scentless plant bug’ to distinguish it from the more commonly-seen stink or shield bugs. It was a very relaxed creature, allowing me to gently prod it into a glass once I’d taken its portrait, and ambling onto a plant once I’d taken it into the garden. None of that manic buzzing that many insects indulge in when trapped! Historically this insect was found in coastal areas but (and here I feel a bit like a stuck record) it is moving north as our climate changes. It also favours dry environments, which might also help to explain the increase in its range.
The Cinnamon bug belongs to the Rhopalid family, all of which are plant-feeders, though none are thought to be pests. It overwinters as an adult, and new bugs emerge from August to October. What I haven’t found is any convincing reason for the creature to be named after cinnamon. One theory is that it emits a spicy smell if handled, but I’m having trouble squaring that with it belonging to the scentless bug family. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of various trees, so I’m thinking that this little chap doesn’t have the jaws necessary to feast on it. Who knows? If you have any ideas, let me know. I’m just really impressed with his red and black livery, and easy-going nature. Who knows what other insects will fly in? I shall keep you posted.