Ambush Bugs (Phymata americana) Seven Photographs
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These bugs attack almost all insects, including ones much larger than they are. Their large claws are part of their weaponry. As their name suggests they sit waiting for prey. Their tiny size explains one of the challenges of photographing them, they are 8-10mm long (1/4-1/8th of an inch). I have found them when they are hiding in goldenrod, and as you can see the camouflage is excellent. This collection should help people identify them more easily from a distance (more on my SmugMug site). They are true bugs and hence inject their prey with a killing solution. I am told it is quite painful to humans. Aside from looking so weird, it is worth noting that they kill off many unwelcome garden insects. Every time I have photographed one of these bugs, they do not fly off, instead they turn around. Basically they want to stay hidden in plain sight. With small insects like this, significant cropping is required and you need great light to able to see the details; their claws, for example, are the same color as the goldenrod. When I visited an entomological collection I asked to see their specimens. A tray was brought out and while I could see some resemblance to what I had photographed, under the magnifying glass the pinned specimens were nowhere near as impressive as the live subjects. The only thing the specimens showed was how remarkably small these creatures are. I expect to post more ambush bugs later this year.