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Ambush Bug (Phymata spp)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Ambush Bug.

 Updated: 10/23/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Ambush Bugs truly live up to their name, waiting patiently for unsuspecting insects to get just close enough to become lunch.



Perfectly camouflaged on sunflowers, and decently so among other blooms, Ambush Bugs are efficient insect predators. They are members of the Assassin Bug family and they are not picky eaters. Any insect that gets too close to an Ambush Bug is quickly grabbed with its strong front legs and held. A sharp beak is jabbed into the victim and its insides are sucked out. This insect can be helpful in protecting the plant from sap-sucking insects, but its non-discriminatory nature may result in the loss of some friendly pollinators as well. Ambush Bugs are known to take on insects much larger than themselves... and win.They can sit still for hours while waiting for a meal to approach.

Ambush bugs can vary slightly in color. Some are golden yellow and brown, while others are more green. The sides of the body are raised and the pronotum (shoulder plate) looks rigid and bumpy. Males are physically smaller than females and can often be seen riding on their mate's back (an example is shown in the photo gallery). Females will lay bunches of fertilized eggs on plant stems and cover them in a frothy coating, which may offer protection from desiccation as well as predation.

Look for Ambush Bugs in the center or perimeter of yellow flowers like Black-Eyed Susans and sunflowers. White daisies and colorful asters are also popular blossoms for this insect. They don't mind urban gardens, suburban backyards or meadows; any area with flowers and insects is a good place to search for them.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Reduviidae
          Genus: Phymata
            Species: spp
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Phymata spp
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 10mm (0.31in to 0.39in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, brown, green
Descriptors: spotted, flower, flying, helpful, flared, raised, sides, banded, bumpy
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.