Alberta, Canada
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Ambush Bug
Phymata erosa
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General Description

By Nora Bryan

Keep an eye out for the fascinating Ambush Bug on a summer’s day in the prairies of southeastern Alberta, especially amongst goldenrods.

The aptly named Ambush Bug is an overall yellowish colour with dark markings behind the head and in the middle of the abdomen, which helps to break its outline. Angular flanges on the ‘shoulder’ and in the middle of the ‘back’ help conceal it further. Although only about 9 mm (? in.) long this fearsome bug can tackle quite large prey, including Bumble Bees.

Once a meal is grasped with the strong front legs, the Ambush Bug pierces the prey and injects saliva which subdues the struggling lunch and liquefies the yummy internal organs which the Ambush Bug then sucks up at leisure. This style of feeding is very similar to that of spiders. Spiders are also predators lacking chewing mouthparts, and so must reduce their food to liquid before feeding. Instead of the ‘piercing-sucking’ mouthparts of predatory bugs, spiders have fangs.

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Where to find Ambush Bugs in Alberta   

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