Poor pollinators! They have to contend with dangerous creatures hiding among the petals of the flowers, not just crab spiders but also sinister ambush bugs. The name is well deserved. These bugs are very good at hiding and waiting patiently until a bee, a fly or some other flower visitor comes near. Then, swift as lightning, they impale their victims with their sharp beaks loaded with fast acting venom. In addition to this form of attack, they have powerful spiny, enlarged front legs that spring into action catching the hapless victim. Just like crab spiders they don’t chew their preys, they drink the fluids and drop the dried up husk down when done feeding.
Ambush bugs are usually smaller than many bees and bumble bees, which doesn’t prevent them from catching them. They have a very unusual shape, with protruding, pointy parts. The rear end is wider than the front. The color pattern is broken. All this makes it hard to see their contour and contribute to their camouflage.
The males are considerably smaller than the females. Sometimes they ride on a female, when mating and don’t hesitate to take food from them.
Habitat. Practically all the habitats visited by all the flower visitors mentioned in this guide. Everywhere where there are flowers.
Season. Most common from July to October. In southern states, also found from February to December
Flowers. A vast array of flowers, usually those grouped in clusters likely to attract many visitors; they like flower heads with many florets that makes it easy for them to hide: goldenrod, asters, queen Anne’s lace, sunflowers.