Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata sp.), Newark DE. Au…

Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata sp.), Newark DE. August 2017.

As the name implies, ambush bugs are predators who specialize in surprise attacks on their prey, usually hiding near or on flowering plants and awaiting an insect to visit for nectar. Many species of ambush are patterned or shaped to help them blend into flower petals or adjacent plant parts, but even if they aren’t easily hidden, the large, raptorial front legs allow them to quickly latch onto prey (and have the strength to take prey twice their size). A large, syringe-like beak serves as its mouth, draining insect prey of precious fluids. 

Phymata is by far the most common group of ambush bugs to be found in the eastern US, although identifications are difficult and many species remain undescribed. Multiple generations are possible in a single summer.