What is this insect? Does she do any harm?

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  • 'Harm' in what sense? Hurting people, damaging plants, causing mild irritation? – Pharap Aug 19 at 6:17
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is a stink bug, possibly Southern Green Stink Bug (Nezara viridula); for reference see Field Guide to Stink Bugs thumbnail Sec1:2 for photo close to this one. Since it is listed in this guide it is an insect that can do harm, however I have seen stink bugs feeding on Colorado Potato Beetle larvae so it is all a matter of context. Do your own reading now that you have a starter.

It is certainly Nezara viridula, and it's a 5th instar version - it will turn brown for winter. This one is native to the UK and Europe. These are interesting insects because their appearance changes quite dramatically over time, see images in this Wikipedia article.

Known as stink bugs in the USA (although the true 'stink bug' is actually a different shield bug, [Halymorpha halys), but commonly called shield bugs in the UK, they are sometimes parasitized by a particular wasp. They are generally only a pest on agricultural crops and don't seem to cause much damage in mainly decorative home gardens, though if you grow a lot of legumes, they may be a problem.

  • You may also want to mention exactly why Americans call them stink bugs. From Wikipedia: "The stink bug derives its name from an unpleasant scent from a glandular substance released from pores in the thorax when disturbed. The chemicals involved include aldehydes, making the smell similar to that of coriander. In some species, the liquid contains cyanide compounds and a rancid almond scent, used to protect themselves and discourage predators." – Pharap Aug 19 at 6:24
  • @Pharap - I did not mention the 'stink' and its explanation because I suspect the OP is in Europe somewhere - Nezara viridula is native to Europe and the UK, and is not known to make a stink, as you put it. The one that does is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halymorpha halys) which is the primary one causing that sort of problem in parts of the States. Luckily, so far, that particular shield bug has not made it to the UK in any numbers - its probably only a matter of time, given climate change, but so far, only 2 have been recorded which did not survive in the UK. – Bamboo Aug 19 at 9:16

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