The tiny Jagged Ambush Bug

My favorite bug, probably

This full grown jagged is sitting on a tansy blossom; it’s only about 1/4 inch long. I love the expression on its face and the sparkly texture. Here are some portraits from years gone by. You may have spotted one at some point, but we often really have to look to find them. I love the last one in the following group – the phlox bud looks like an insect Dairy Queen to me!

Cute as they are (my opinion) they are also ferocious hunters. I once got really depressed seeing a dead honey bee just hanging from a branch, but the next day I looked more carefully and realized it had been dinner for a Jagged! Here are a couple of other conquests. The Jaggeds suck out the insides with their spear-like rostrum.

Mostly I see them just waiting for prey to come by. Often they hunt in pairs. At first I thought they must be mating, but no, they mate on their side, not one on top of the other. In the first picture they remind me of two old people on a walk wearing backpacks. The last one shows how small they are in comparison to that fairly small butterfly.

I’ve even seen 3 of them hunt together, as with this green bee they had caught. I’m not sure of the Jagged protocol, but eventually they all got to feed on the bee.

These have all been fully grown bugs. The young are white and look very different. I think part of their survival strategy is that, although they can fly, they actually rarely move from the spot they have chosen. I often go back a couple of days in a row to see whether or not a specific insect has had a meal.

And that is just what I did when I first saw this young white one in my sister’s garden. I was really relieved to finally see it eat a couple of days later, although it may well have eaten in between my visits. Funny how invested I became in its survival!

This year I have only seen a few adults. The first was sharing a hunting spot with a crab spider. I would have thought either one of them could have happily made a meal of the other, but apparently not! However, the next day, only the crab spider was still there. Hmm…? But looking at that picture I am reminded how the Jagged (seen from above or behind) often remind me of a tiny man in the Louis XIV era. I can imagine these two as an insect caricature of two people going to a ball at Versailles! She with her smooth white arms and him with his fancy cape on. See if you agree!

The motivation for writing this post comes from my discovery this week of several new hatchlings. I can hardly describe how tiny they are except to say that at least 15 of them would fit on the nail of my little finger. And yet, look how perfect they are! Translucent and already sparkling when seen in the right light! My bet is on #3 who, tiny as he is, had already found himself a smaller fly and knew exactly what to do with it!

I keep checking up and now and then I see one of them again. Maybe there will be more posts to come on these funny little bugs.

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