Leaf-footed Bugs (Family Coreidae)

Leaf-footed Bugs are darkish, mid-to-large sized bugs (¾” to 1”), and many (but not all) have what is described as a leaf-shaped “flange” on the lower part of the back leg (tibia). The males of some species are armed with massive, spiked (often battle-scarred) thighs (femurs) that they whack each other with when in combat over females. L-fBs have a lot of parallel veins on the membranous part of the front wing. Most are herbivores, using their impressive mouthparts to pierce plant parts and suck out the juices.

Assassin Bug (Family Reduviidae)

Assassin bugs are true bugs. The genus Zelus is a small one (about 60 species) that is more common south of the border. Only about a half-dozen species reside in the U.S., and they mostly live in the south and southwest. They are describe them as “slender, lanky assassins, occurring on foliage” (the assassins that frequent flowers are hard on honeybee populations).

Milkweed Bug (Family Lygaedidae)

Milkweed Bugs are in the Seed Bug bunch (family Lygaedidae), which get their name because they suck juice from seeds. MBs of one kind or another are found on milkweeds across the U.S. and southern Canada, and they are most common in the Southeast. Unlike most insects, MBs are reported to feed on some nectar, and when food is scarce, MBs may eat other milkweed parts and live or dead invertebrates.

Box Elder Bug Revisited (Family Rhopalidae)

Box Elder Bugs, as you would expect, feed on/suck sap from the tender parts of box elder trees, especially from the seed pods (some municipalities ban female box elders for this reason). They have been observed eating other maples, ash, and a few species of fruit trees, plus grapes and strawberries, and their feeding may scar fruits. They can fly several city blocks, or up to a few miles looking for food.

Spittlebug (Family Cercopidae)

“Snake spit,” “Cuckoo Spit,” and “Frog spit” are names for these bubbly masses of foam that are seen on grasses, wildflowers, and even in trees. They are manufactured by the nymph (immature form) of a critter called a froghopper or Spittlebug, a bug whose immature stage is better known than its adult. Spittlebugs overwinter as eggs and hatch in spring.

Ambush Bugs (Family Reduviidae)

Ambush bugs wear the name “bug” proudly and legitimately, which means that their forewings have two different textures—the proximal half (closest to the body) is leathery, and the distal half (away from the body) is membranous, like a fly’s wing. They have a “beak” for sucking, and this beak is tucked in under its “chin.” What they do well is predation, and to that end, ambush bugs are equipped with a few adaptations that allow them to prey on insects much, much larger than they are:

Milkweed Critters Revisited

This week’s BOTW is another of those retreads from the olden days when BOTW was brand new. If you are a Charter BugFan, you’ll note that exciting new species, pictures and information have been added.

Water Boatmen, Backswimmers

Backswimmers are piercer-predators that kill and suck the bodily fluids out of any prey they can subdue—invertebrate and vertebrate—including tiny fish fry and tadpoles. In their choice of food, they compete with small fish. Water Boatmen swim head down along the bottom in search of food. Lacking the standard piercing beak issued to other aquatic true bugs, they ingest living material—diatoms, algae, protozoa, and nematodes.

Giant Water Bug (Family Belostomatidae)

Giant Water Bugs are true bugs. They are large, brownish, flat, roughly oval insects with impressive front legs. GWBs are “climber-swimmers” that live in quiet, shallow waters with plenty of vegetation. Like most other aquatic true bugs are classified as “piercer-predators.” They grab their prey, stab it with a short, sharp beak, and inject poisonous enzymes (produced in salivary glands near the beak) that immobilize it and then liquefy its innards

Masked Hunter (Family Reduviidae)

The adult Masked Hunter is a striking, shiny, black bug about 3/4” long. The immature (nymph) has a sticky “finish” that attracts lint and dust; in short, stuff sticks to Junior, earning it the nickname “dustbug.” MHs are insect-feeders, untiring consumers of bedbugs, a pest that is staging a comeback in big cities everywhere thanks to the ease of world travel. If you have the predator, perhaps you should check for the prey.