jagged ambush bug

(Phymata americana)

Conservation Status
jagged ambush bug (americana)
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

 
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

There are 17 species of jagged ambush bugs (genus Phymata) that occur in North America north of Mexico. Only two species have been recorded in Minnesota.

Jagged ambush bug is a small, well-camouflaged, ambush bug. It occurs throughout the United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico. It is very common in Minnesota. It is found on flowers in open and semi-open areas, including forest edges, farms, meadows, and gardens.

Adults are 5 16 to ½ (7.5 to 12 mm) in length and light colored with dark markings. The light color may be yellow, yellowish-white, yellowish-green, greenish-yellow, or any combination of these. The dark markings are usually dark brown to almost black but are sometimes medium brown, brownish-orange, or brownish-yellow. Males tend to be darker than females.

There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head, and two simple eyes (ocelli) on the top of the head (vertex). The antennae have four segments. The last segment is only slightly enlarged (clubbed). The collection of protruding mouthparts (beak) is short, has three segments, and is optimized for sucking.

The exoskeletal plate covering the thorax (pronotum) has jagged, spiny, rear corners. This feature gives the genus its common name. The pronotum usually has four alternating bands, two light and two dark. These may be obscure or appear as a pair of light spots on each side. The plate between the bases of the wings (scutellum) is triangular and shorter than the pronotum.

The abdomen has a flattened, greatly enlarged margin (connexivum). It is more or less diamond-shaped, widest in the middle, with smooth, rounded lateral sides and a broadly rounded tip (apex). It is pale with a broad dark band across the widest part. The segments of the connexivum are not dilated and the sides are not notched.

The wings at rest are held folded over the back. They cover only the middle portion of the abdomen, leaving the sides exposed.

The legs are pale. On the front legs the third segment (femur) is greatly enlarged, optimized for grasping large prey. When the front legs are folded, the fourth segment (tibia) fits into a groove on the bottom of the femur. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has three segments.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 5 16 to ½ (7.5 to 12 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Pennsylvania ambush bug (Phymata pennsylvanica) connexivum is distinctly notched at the widest part. The segments of the connexivum are dilated. It is present in Minnesota but rare.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open and semi-open areas, including forest edges, farms, meadows, and gardens.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

 

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults prefer yellow or blue flowers where their camouflage is most effective. They may have the ability to change their colors somewhat in response to their environment. They can capture prey up to ten times their own size.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Nymph Food

 
 

Small insects

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Bees, butterflies, flies, day-flying moths, and other true bugs.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 29, 30.

 
  9/26/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common and widespread

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Hemiptera (true bugs, cicadas, hoppers, aphids and allies)  
 

Suborder

Sternorrhyncha (plant-parasitic hemipterans)  
 

Infraorder

Cimicomorpha (thaumastocorid bugs)  
 

Superfamily

Reduvioidea  
 

Family

Reduviidae (assassin bugs)  
 

Subfamily

Phymatinae (ambush bugs)  
 

Tribe

Phymatini  
 

Genus

Phymata (jagged ambush bugs)  
  Subgenus Phymata  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

jagged ambush bug (Phymata americana americana)

jagged ambush bug (Phymata americana coloradensis)

jagged ambush bug (Phymata americana metcalfi)

jagged ambush bug (Phymata americana obscura)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
  jagged ambush bug  
     
 

The common name of this species is the same as the common name of the genus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Beak

On plants: A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds. On insects: The protruding, tubular mouthpart of a sucking insect.

 

Femur

On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Pronotum

The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.

 

Scutellum

The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.

 

Tarsus

On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.

 

Tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.

 

Vertex

The upper surface of an insect’s head.

 

 

 

 

 

           
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Greg Watson

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
           
 

jagged ambush bug

I took these two pictures of a Jagged Ambush Bug at Eagles Bluff Park in La Crescent, MN on 9 September 2021.

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
 

Maureen Burkle

 
 

Phymata Americana on Wild Quinine

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
 

Luciearl

 
  Picked a bouquet of asters from the ditch and found this bug on it a few days later. I put it on a piece of paper and brought it outside, but couldn't get it off the paper, so I brought the bouquet outside. Brought the bug on the paper over to the asters and it climbed back on. It really loved the asters!   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
        jagged ambush bug (americana)  
 

Chris

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
           
  This is a very interesting photo. The female ambush bug is feeding on a bee while the male is mating with her........   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
 

Dan W. Andree

 
 

Ambush Bug on a flower.....

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
 

Bill Reynolds

 
 

Ambush Bug

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)   jagged ambush bug (americana)  
           
 

Ambush Bug and Red-blue Checkered Beetle

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
           
 

Juvenile Ambush Bug

 
    jagged ambush bug (americana)      
           
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           

 

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slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata americana americana)
Nature in Motion
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 20, 2016

Guest appearances by two spiders and two wasps.

Music: Big Sky

True Bugs (Heteroptera) » Cimicomorpha » Assassin Bugs (Reduviidae) » Ambush Bugs (Phymatinae) » Jagged Ambush Bugs (Phymata) » Phymata americana » Phymata americana americana

 
  Ambush Bug Bonanza
Lang Elliott
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 27, 2015

This video features an ambush bug consuming a honeybee nearly twice its size. The Ambush Bug, Phymata americana, is a member of the Assassin Bug family. Adults hang out on leaf heads of goldenrods, asters, etc., awaiting prey. When a small insect approaches, the Ambush Bug shoots out its chunky, scissor-like forelegs to secure the prey, which is then immobilized by injecting poison through its piercing mouthpart.

 
  Another Jagged Ambush Bug - Phymata sp.
adamitshelanu
 
   
 
About

Published on Nov 7, 2014

Another Jagged Ambush Bug - Phymata sp.

Uncle Steve finds a Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata sp.) on a goldenrod plant in his yard.

It most likely is:
P. pennsylvanica
or
P. americana

Date: 18 SEPTEMBER 2014

[vado-g3 avidemux]

 

 

Camcorder

           
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Greg Watson
9/23/2021

Location: Apple Blossom Overlook, near La Crescent, MN

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Greg Watson
9/9/2021

Location: Eagles Bluff Park, La Crescent, MN

I took these two pictures of a Jagged Ambush Bug at Eagles Bluff Park in La Crescent, MN on 9 September 2021.

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Luciearl
9/20/2020

Location: Cass County

Picked a bouquet of asters from the ditch and found this bug on it a few days later. I put it on a piece of paper and brought it outside, but couldn't get it off the paper, so I brought the bouquet outside. Brought the bug on the paper over to the asters and it climbed back on. It really loved the asters!

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
8/2 to 8/8/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
Summer 2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Chris
9/1/2019

Location: Apple Valley MN

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
8/29/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
8/15/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

This is a very interesting photo. The female ambush bug is feeding on a bee while the male is mating with her........

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
8/12/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
8/8/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Dan W. Andree
Summer 2018

Location: rural Norman Co. MN

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Bill Reynolds
7/23/2017

Location: Pennington Co MN

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
  Alfredo Colon
October 2017

Location: Woodbury, MN

jagged ambush bug (americana)

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Created: 7/27/2017

Last Updated:

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