Currently viewing the category: "Ambush Bugs"

Bug Love Meets Where’s Waldo
Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 7:49 PM
My son Sam took this picture of what he thought was an assassin bug on a flower. Later when we looked back at it we noticed that it was actually two bugs mating. If you can zoom in it’s really a pretty amazing picture. We are wondering now if they are assassin bugs since they don’t seem much like the others on this site. In any case, it’s one for your Bug Love. Any ideas? Thanks, as always, for your great great site!
Sam and Daddy Jim
Suburban backyard, 35 miles west of Chicago

Mating Ambush Bugs

Mating Ambush Bugs

Hi Sam and Daddy Jim,
Though they are sometimes mistaken for Assassin Bugs, Ambush Bugs are in a different family, Phymatidae.  Your pair are Jagged Ambush Bugs in the genus Phymata, and you can see more images on BugGuide.

ambush bug with flesh fly
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on your site in recent months, trying to identify arthropods of all kinds. One I’ve found especially fascinating is the ambush bug–what a formidable hunter!! Several days ago, I was astonished to find one with a Silver-spotted Skipper, quite a large catch for such a small bug. Today, spotted one with a flesh fly. My goal was a good photo of the ambush bug, not the flesh fly; unfortunately, the near constant breezes of the last week are not conducive to ultra-sharp pictures. I almost deleted the picture, but then something caught my attention. The fly, in her death throes, had given birth. Just yesterday, in thumbing through my new Kaufman’s “Field Guide to Insects of N.A., read that some flies, including flesh flies, are viviparous. If you like, you may post the attached picture. Thanks for all you do. Between your site, BugGuide & my new Kaufman’s, I’m happily IDing most of my arthropod photographs. Sincerely,

Hi Linda,
Your photograph is quite wonderful, even though your primary objective is not as visible as you might hope. Try to remember that the excellent camouflage of the Ambush Bug is key to its success as a predator. We will be archiving your image on numerous pages, including flies, maggots, true bugs and food chain.

two buggy things
First off, I’m now totally hooked! Many of the killer bad bugs have been ID’d and we can breathe easier knowing they are not killer bugs after all. My kids and I have had the camera with us now whenever we go out because we never know when we’ll get a good shot. OK, the first one is of two tiny mantis looking bugs. They are maybe 1/2 inch long, can fly, and have those praying type of front legs. We were wondering if the mantis looking bugs were in fact tiny mantis critters (hope pic is clear enough).We live in SE CT.
Thanks so much,

Hi Erika,
Your mantis bugs are Ambush Bugs, Family Phymatidae, and they are mating. They wait on flowers to ambush nectar seeking insects.

Not a nice bug
This morning (8/3/04) I had an ugly encounter with this bug. It bit me on the back of the neck. I think it might be an assassin bug because it resembles the pictures of the other assassin bugs on your site. However, the colors on it are very bright yellows and neon greens on black. The first set of legs are thick and curved; the rest are thin and straight. It has the mouth parts of an assassin. Its bite felt like a BAD bee sting. I thought that I would share and see if you could confirm what it is. I have it displayed on the bulletin board for my fifth grade class and I would love to be able to tell them with certainty what it is.
Thank You,
Meredith Barthel

Hi Meredith,
You have an Ambush Bug, Family Phymatidae. These are True Bugs and closely related to Assasin Bugs, hence the similarity in appearance. According to Borror and Delong: “The Phymatids are small stout-bodied bugs with raptorial front legs. … Most of the Ambush Bugs are about 1/2 inch in length or less, yet they are able to capture insects as large as fair-sized bumble bees. they lie in wait for their prey on flowers, particularly goldenrod, where they are excellently concealed by their greenish yellow color. They feed principally on relatively large bees, wasps, and flies.” They do have venom, hence the pain in your bite. As you know, their bite is painful, but not dangerous. I believe your species is Phymata erosa.