Description of Families
of Flower-Visiting Plant Bugs
Lygaeidae (Lygaeid Bugs, Seed Bugs)
These are medium-sized insects with an angular oval body. Their wings overlap, creating an "X" pattern on the back. They are variably colored brown, red and black, etc. Lygaeid bugs feed on seeds or the sap of grasses. Sometimes they obtain nectar at flowers. A typical example is Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug). It is bright red and black, probably a warning to potential predators of its toxicity.
Miridae (Plant Bugs)
Plant Bugs are a large family of small insects that are somewhat angular or oval in shape. Their overlapping wings often create an "X" or "V" shape along the back. Some plant bugs are colorful combinations of red, yellow, or black, while others are dull brown. They have long slender antennae. Plant bugs insert their eggs in plant stems and suck plant juices. Many species are considered pests, but they also suck nectar from wildflowers. Some species are host-specific, while others feed on a wide variety of plants.
Pentatomidae (Stink Bugs)
Stinkbugs are medium-sized insects, rather rectangular-shaped, with overlapping wings on the back. They are often dull brown or green. Some species suck juices from plants, while others prey upon other insects, usually caterpillars or beetle larvae, sucking their bodily juices. The predatory stink bugs are commonly observed on various wildflowers, where they suck nectar. Predatory stinkbugs can be distinguished from other stinkbugs by the presence of blunt spines on each side of the thorax behind the head. They are called "Spined Soldier Bugs."
Phymatidae (Ambush Bugs)
These small to medium-sized insects are stocky, angular, and variably colored, often some combination of yellow and brown. The head is rather large, and the front pair of legs are thick, powerful, and crab-like: designed for grabbing and holding prey, rather than for walking. Ambush bugs frequently lurk near flowers, and are capable of taking prey much larger than themselves. They inject a digestive fluid, and then suck the bodily juices of their victims.
Reduviidae (Assassin Bugs)
Assassin Bugs are medium-sized insects. They have an oval-shaped abdominal area, over which is superimposed overlapping wings that create the appearance of an "X" on the back. They are variously colored, and have a small narrow head that projects outward from the body. The front two pairs of legs are longer and more powerful than the hind legs: they are used to grab and hold insect prey. Assassin bugs actively hunt and feed on a variety of insects, sucking out their bodily juices. They occasionally lurk near flowers to feed on bees and other insects.
Rhopalidae (Scentless Plant Bugs)
These insects are medium-sized, oval-shaped, with overlapping wings. They are pale brown or grey, red and black, or other colors. The antennae are rather long and four-segmented. Scentless Plant Bugs feed on the juices of wildflowers, grasses, and some trees. Unlike some of the other families of True Bugs, they do not emit a fluid with an unpleasant scent when disturbed. Sometimes they seek nectar from flowers, but they are not common visitors.
Thyreocoridae (Negro Bugs)
These are very small dark brown or black bugs. They are shiny and spheroid-shaped like Lady Beetles, but smaller. Negro Bugs are either completely absent, or appear in large numbers on flowers, where they suck nectar. They are selective in the flowers they visit; Pycnanthemum spp. (Mountain Mints) and Solidago spp. (Goldenrods) are preferred sources of nectar.