Pennsylvania ambush bug

(Phymata pennsylvanica)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

Xxxxxxxxxx

NatureServe

not listed

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Rare in Minnesota

   
Flight/Season

Mid-July to late September

Photo by Mike Poeppe
Habitat

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

Size

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

 
 
Identification

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.

Pennsylvania ambush bug is a small, well-camouflaged, ambush bug. It occurs in the United States east of and just west of the Mississippi River and in adjacent Canadian Provinces. A disjunct population has been reported in Colorado. It is rare in Minnesota, where it is at the western extent of its range.

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, and a broadly rounded tip (apex). It is pale with a broad dark band across the widest part. The segments of the connexivum are dilated, though this is difficult to see in photos. The widest segment has angular sides with one corner that sticks out farther than the adjacent segments. This makes the overall shape of the connexivum look distinctly notched, not smooth.

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.

 
Similar
Species

Jagged ambush bug (Phymata americana) connexivum is smooth, not notched at the widest part. The segments of the connexivum are not dilated. It is much more common in Minnesota.

 
Nymphal Food

Small insects

 
Adult Food

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

 
Life Cycle

 

 
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.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.

 

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

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

 

No Rank:

Euhemiptera

 

No Rank:

Neohemiptera

 

No Rank:

Prosorrhyncha

 

Suborder:

Heteroptera (true bugs)

 

No Rank:

Euheteroptera

 

No Rank:

Neoheteroptera

 

No Rank:

Panheteroptera

 

Infraorder:

Cimicomorpha (thaumastocorid bugs)

 

Superfamily:

Reduvioidea

 

Family:

Reduviidae (assassin bugs)

 

Subfamily:

Phymatinae (ambush bugs)

 

Tribe:

Phymatini

 

Genus:

Phymata (jagged ambush bugs)

 

Subgenus:

Phymata (Phymata)

 

The genus Phymata was formerly placed in its own family, Phymatidae.

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

Pennsylvania ambush bug

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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  Pennsylvania ambush bug   Pennsylvania ambush bug
       
  Pennsylvania ambush bug   Pennsylvania ambush bug
       
  Pennsylvania ambush bug   Pennsylvania ambush bug
       
       
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About

Aug 23, 2020

Sorry for the shakeycam, breathing and verticality. Not everyone is a professional who set up their equipment for an hour under perfect conditions. Some people are just amateurs with a phone and a clip-on macro lens.

   
       

 

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Mike Poeppe
8/7/2020

Location: 1 mile west of Houston, MN

Pennsylvania ambush bug


Mike Poeppe
8/6/2020

Location: just west of Houston, MN

Pennsylvania ambush bug


     
     
 
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Created: 8/24/2020

Last Updated:

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