damsel bug

(Nabis americolimbatus)

Conservation Status
damsel bug (Nabis americolimbatus)
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Nabis americolimbatus is a small, predatory, damsel bug. It occurs throughout Canada and in the northern United States from New York to Minnesota. It is found low in vegetation in fields and gardens.

Adults are soft-bodied, elongated, slender, cone-shaped, ¼ to (6 to 9 mm) in length, and less than wide. They are tan and mottled with shades of reddish-brown and gray.

The head is small, cone-shaped, and much narrower than the thorax. At the front of the head there is a rounded lobe (tylus) that projects forward. The tylus is dark along the sides. The neck is very short. There are two large compound eyes and two small simple eyes (ocelli). The compound eyes are bulging. At the top of the head there are two converging pale lines with a dark, hairy, V-shaped area between them. The ocelli are large and positioned at the back (posterior) ends of the pale lines. The antennae are exposed, conspicuous, and long, much longer than the head but not quite as long as the body. They have four segments. The first segment (scape) is longer than the width of the head through the eyes. The mouth parts are optimized for piercing and sucking. They take the form of a long, prominent, 4-segmented beak that extends along the underside of the body between the legs when not used. The beak is slender and much longer than the head. The abdomen is much wider than the thorax.

The sides of the abdomen are broadly rounded. There are two pairs of wings, and they are held flat over the body when at rest. The small triangular plate between the wing bases (scutellum) has conspicuous, depressed, semicircular, shiny spots on each basal angle. Adults with long, fully developed wings are rare. Most adults have short wings that do not extend beyond the third abdominal segment. When fully developed, the forewings (hemelytra) are longer than the body and completely cover the sides of the body. They have a thickened section at the base and a thin membranous section at the tip with a clear dividing line between the two. The thickened basal part is comprised of a narrow area (clavus) behind the scutellum when the wings are closed, and the remaining, broad, marginal area (corium). At the end of the corium there is a small but distinct triangular area (cuneus). There is one unbranched vein through the clavus, and two long veins in the corium, one of them split in the middle forming a diamond-shaped cell. A long submarginal vein in the membranous section separates an inner row of long closed cells and an outer (marginal) row of short open cells. The hindwings are thin, membranous, and concealed under the forewings.

The legs are long, stilt-like, and yellowish-tan. The third segment (femur) and fourth segment (tibia) of each leg is heavily spotted above. The femurs on all legs have heavy dark spotting above. On the front leg they are thickened. On the front and middle legs they have a row of small, stiff bristles below. On the front legs they have double row of black teeth along the inner edge. On the middle legs they have a double row of black spines. The end part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has only 3 segments. The tip of each segment is dark.




Total Length: ¼ to (6 to 9 mm)


Similar Species


Fields and gardens




One generation, early May to early October




Adults are usually found on grass or low on vegetation.


Life Cycle


Adults females probably overwinter after mating and deposit eggs in the spring. Nymphs pass through five stages (instars) before emerging as adults.


Nymph Food




Adult Food


Small insects, insect nymphs, and insect eggs, including aphids, mites, and caterpillars.


Distribution Map



24, 29, 30, 82, 83.




Uncommon in Minnesota



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


Heteroptera (true bugs)  


Cimicomorpha (thaumastocorid bugs)  




Nabidae (damsel bugs)  






  Subgenus Dolichonabis  



Dolichonabis americolimbatus

Nabicula americolimbata


Common Names


This species has no common name. The common name of the Family Nabidae is damsel bugs, and is applied here for convenience.









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.



The thickened basal portion of the front wing that lies between the clavus and the membrane of insects in the family Hemiptera.



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



The forewing of true bugs (Order Hemiptera), thickened at the base and membranous at the tip. Plural: hemelytra.



The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.



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



On plants: An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster. On insects: The basal segment of the antenna.



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.



The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).






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Alfredo Colon
  damsel bug (Nabis americolimbatus)    
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Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

damsel bug (Nabis americolimbatus)

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Created: 11/29/2020

Last Updated:

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