To the naked eye the miniscule insects looked like bits of dead leaf caught on a growing plant.
But a magnifying lens and a post to Bugguide.net helped me identify them as Jagged Ambush Bugs. The name is apt, as their bodies are strange conglomerations of abrupt, protruding angles. The genus is Phymata--but the different species of Phymata are hard to identify.
"Phymata" means "swollen" and refers to the bulbous front legs.
| Those bloated femurs|
look like crab claws! These bugs are
on Daisy Fleabane in the Creek Field, April 2017.
|Creek Field, April 2017.|
The front legs are so different from the other four!
|Phymata on Golden Alexander in the Creek Field, April 2017.|
Note how different the front legs are from the back ones.
The out-sized, muscular front legs help grab a prey.
Though I first saw these bugs in the Creek Field in the early spring, I also found them in the wetlands in the fall:
|Phymata on Hairy Aster, September 2017.|
|A Jagged Ambush Bug holds a fly with its|
swollen front leg. Swamp Milkweed
Wetlands, September 2017.
The restorations are growing up!