Is it not truly a marvel of Nature? As you see in the picture, it has 'attached' itself to the back of a leaf. It does so with suction in its tiny legs. More on suction later.
Notice its triangular head and the metallic shield on its back. This is what differentiates it from beetles.
I noticed this bug while watering the Karela करेला (Bitter gourd) creeper in our front yard. It seemed 'stuck' up side down on a leaf back. Probably to shield itself from hot sun with day temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius. It stayed there throughout the day. It seemed to have moved a bit as can be seen from the suction marks next day. See the next picture taken against back light.
During feeding, jewel bugs inject proteolytic enzymes in their saliva into plants, digesting plant matter into a liquid form which they then suck up. Our jewel bug stayed on that leaf for good three days defying gravity.
Jewel Bugs belong to the family Scutelleridae which is a family of true bugs. True bugs are those that have mouths that suck unlike 'Beetles' that have mouths that chomp. Closely related to stink bugs, they may also produce an offensive odour when disturbed. There are around 450 species worldwide. Jewel bugs have been sighted in India, Australia and USA. Readers may browse an interesting account of a jewel bug in Australia by clicking this link.
The jewel bug is not easy to spot as it hides itself under a leaf. See the picture below. The bug is under the Karela leaf in centre of the picture!
May be in summer months it is difficult to spot. But a zoology professor from Karimnagar (130 kms from Secunderabad) has shot a video of the bug on the move. Click this link for the video.
The belly of the bug has different colouration. Difficult to photograph without disturbing the bug, here is a side view.
Readers interested to learn more about the bugs may browse a site called TenRandomFacts.
After observing the bug for three hot days, I couldn't spot it in the evening. A thunder storm followed by light drizzle cooled that particular evening. As if on cue, the jewel seems to have disappeared. Perhaps relocated to another plant, another garden, somewhere.
If you have observed the jewel bug in your neighbourhood, do add a comment. It will enrich our knowledge of this tiny wonder of Nature.
Our previous stories on other tiny creatures can be browsed by clicking the links below:
Caterpillars and self-discipline
Mantis which looks like a Violin
When a Bumble-bee died because of heat stroke
Thanks for browsing.
Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 30th April 2016