Ambush Bugs – Phymata spp.
Common Name: Jagged Ambush Bugs, Ambush Bugs.
Appearance: Ambush bugs are 8-11 mm long insects that are mostly seen among the flowers. Depending on the species, they have variable colors but generally have a cream color with dark markings (red, black, or dark brown). Males are usually darker than females and tend to be shorter. They have strong front legs modified to capture the prey. The abdomen is generally diamond-shaped, wider in the middle, and wings are held over the abdomen.
Host Plants or Food: Aphids, Butterflies, Moths, Bees, Flies, and other soft-bodied arthropods.
Territory: Throughout North America
Mode of Damage: They prey on different plant pests, so they are considered Beneficial Garden Insect
Habits and Life History:
- Ragged ambush bugs are mostly found in gardens, tree crops, forests, meadows, and anywhere flowers are present.
- They usually remain motionless and wait for the prey to come near instead of following it. When the prey comes pretty, they capture the prey very speedily with the help of their front legs. Therefore they are called ambush bugs.
- Adults have the ability to capture prey ten times larger than their body.
- Male gets mounted on the female, and mating occurs.
- Female lays eggs in masses on the leaves and twigs that get attached to them with sticky material and don’t fall.
- Ambush bugs overwinter as eggs and hatch during spring, and nymphs come out.
- They start feeding on small insects and develop through 5 instars before finally developing into adult ragged ambush bugs.
- Development from egg to adult usually takes 5 weeks to 3 months.