22 August, 2009


This week the Jagged Ambush Bugs (genus Phymata) came out on the Blackeyed Susans and Coneflowers. They are small little critters (less than 1/2 inch) with lots of attitude.

The one below was posing with its lobster claw-like modified forelegs held at the ready. These modifed legs are characteristic of all ambush bugs and differentiate them from assassin bugs and other true bugs. The club-like antennae also separate them from the assassin bugs.

This individual is resting on its modified forelegs (reminds me of Popeye's forearms). This perspective gives you an idea of how small the heads are relative to the rest of their bodies. This one has its antennae swept back.

Here you can see how flared the abdomen is. It is wider than the little stubby wings are. And again - look at that little head with the simple eyes.

As I was assembling these shots and inserting the commentary, I asked Dennis if I should finish with the image of a mating pair or meal-time. His reply was "In my observation and experience, you should always feed them first." ;-) Hearing the universal truth in his reasoning, I have put a shot of an individual (probably a female) eating a small beetle below. Its right foreleg is grasping one of the beetle's legs and its rostrum has pierced the beetle's abdomen. It liquifies the innards and slurps out the resulting smoothie. Yum ...

The final shot shows a mating pair. The male is much darker than the female, but they are similar in size. Both have salmon-pink eyes, although the eye color shows in better contrast against the male's darker coloring.

These are facinating little bugs. I like that they sit still waiting for prey, which makes the photography much easier. The hardest part about photographing them is their small size; even with the autofocus on my camera set for center, they are too small to focus on accurately. Out of every 10 shots, I probably kept just 1. Another reason to love digital; I use that "erase" button frequently.


  1. Amazing insects brilliantly captured, Wilma - I wonder if we get those here? Might not do much for smoothies sales, though - liquefied beetle innards? Nice.
    The acronym JAB seems very apt.

  2. Wilma
    They look like aliens from another planet!The second photo reminds me of the monster in the japanese series Ultraman. Wonderful captures.

  3. Great captures of a fascinating insect Wilma.
    Love that reference to 'Popeye's forearms' lol Very appropriate.

  4. Rob, Madi, and Keith,

    thanks for the visits and the comments. I like the "JAB" acronym; very apt indeed, Rob. I will have to check out Ultraman, Madi. They are good models for monsters or even robots (monster robots?). This bug certainly has plenty of features, including cartoons, to make it memorable and worth seeking out.


  5. Hi Wilma. Lovely set of photo's. You certainly have an eye for it. A very talented lady.

  6. This is a fascinating report. I'd not heard of these creatures previously. They certainly do have attitude. Great picture taking too. Like you, I take lots of pictures and end up with one or two good ones. But it's so much easier than the old days when every one of 36 slides from a film might need to be disgarded.

  7. Outstanding Photography,love the Macro work.
    Spot on.

  8. Hi Wilma,

    Awsome looking Aliens you have over there....Beetle soup, highly recommended er not.

    The Macro photographs are just superb. Not sure what camera/lense you use but it is just great work.

    Well done.



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