Meet one of five species of shield-backed bugs in the genus Homaemus: this is Homaemus proteus, notable for those two lovely spots on its scutellum (although not all individuals have the spots, and some have much bigger spots — I wonder if this might be a nymph rather than a color morph, but this is another victim of Wikipedia Stub Syndrome, and unless I want to buy $500 worth of reference material, or hunt down someone working with the species, I guess I’ll never know. It looks like an adult to me, but what do I know?).
Shield-backed bugs are members of the family Scutelleridae, sucking the juices out of plants with a long proboscis. Some members of the family are beautiful iridescent or neon colors, giving the family its alternate name — jewel bugs. The Scutelleridae are named for the extension of the scutellum, a triangular piece of the thorax, which in this family extends over the entire back of the insect. It does conceal wings — if the insect wants to fly, it has to lift its scutellum up “like the trunk of a car” to allow the wings to function.
Shield-backed bugs will, like the stink bugs they resemble, emit a noxious odor to deter predators if disturbed.
Shield-backed bug, Homaemus proteus. Shield-backed bug, Homaemus proteus.