Part of the “true bug” group, this insect comes from a family known as shield bugs or, sometimes, parent bugs. That’s because some species provide parental care—which is uncommon in insects. After laying clusters of eggs, females may stay with them, trying to keep away predatory ants by shielding the eggs with their bodies. Some also protect nymphs under the sides of their bodies, like mother hens, kicking and fanning their wings at attackers.
Living in the forests of eastern North America, these small herbivores have a primary host plant in the genus Aralia, on which they feed and lay their eggs. These woodland plants grow at the edges of broad-leaved, moist forests. But since many forests in this area have been lost to development, and wet areas drained, the bug is also in decline.

Aralia shield bug
Elasmostethus atricornis
Up to 0.4 inches (1 cm)
Vulnerable (natureserve)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00263559
Tennessee, U.S.