Home Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

Click on arrows to show pull-down menus:


Archived-by-Date Pages

True Bugs (suborder Heteroptera, order Hemiptera, infraclass Neoptera, subclass Pterygota, class Insecta, subphylum Hexapoda, phylum Arthropoda, kingdom Animalia)


Identifying characteristics of True Bugs are 1) a versatile (piercing, injecting digestive enzymes, sucking) beak attached to a small head and 2) forewings that are half hardened (as are beetles' wing covers), and half membrane, the material best for flying.  True Bugs overwinter as adults here, hiding under fallen leaves.  But they often make their appearance late in the year on warm days, often on black surfaces, especially when leaves are raked.

Immature True Bugs are called "nymphs" because they experience incomplete metamorphosis.  This means that they don't become pupae: one molt changes a nymph into an adult.  However, nymphs go through usually five stages, distinguished by molts, called instars before they become adults.  This is where True Bug identification is most challenging, because their appearance undergoes major changes with these molts.  For example, although adult Green Stink Bugs are solid green as adults, they have elaborate red and black patterns as first-instar nymphs.

True bugs in North Carolina aren't dangerous unless handled.  Like all animals with natural weapons, they will fight back if attacked and if flight isn't an option.  I've never smelled a stink bug or been stabbed by the beak of an assassin bug, but I've heard complaints about these experiences.  However, the Triatoma genus (a member of the Reduviidae assassin bug family), endemic in tropical parts of Latin America, spreads a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, among mammals.   This parasite causes a serious and common infection (human American trypanosomiasis) originally named for its discoverer, Carlos Chagas, who used a revolutionary combination of study in the lab and in the field to give a complete account of the cause and course of the disease in 1910.  Although he is generally recognized today as deserving of the Nobel Prize, for which he was the only nominee in 1921, he was denied the prize because of these apparent political factors.

The validity of all classifications were checked against the contents of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.  All classifications are tentative, as they are on every page of this website.

Stink Bugs (family Pentatomidae, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Some stink bugs are predators (Aesopinae subfamily), while members of most species are herbivorous (Pentatominae subfamily).  The Spined Soldier Bug is an economically important predator; the Brown Stink Bug, the Green Stink Bug, the Southern Green Stink Bug and the Rice Stink Bug are all economically important crop pests.  This is not entirely related to sheer numbers: in Durham, NC, the Menecles insertus stink bug is by far the most common, but apparently gets along without eating crops.  Note the shoulder-like "pronotum" and the large triangular scutellum (the Latin word for "shield"), which characterize adults of this family. 

To see some Stink Bug predation (on Colorado Potato Beetle larvae) photos, see Mike Tetzlaff's page.

Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus), Aesopinae subfamily

Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus [Linnaeus, 1767]) nymph, Durham, NC, 6/10/09 Florida Predatory Stink Bug 5th instar (note the separate scutella and wing pads), Fort Fisher Recreational Area, New Hanover County, NC, 8/27/03. Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus [Linnaeus, 1767]) adult, Durham, NC, 6/26/10          

Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris), Aesopinae subfamily

Spined Soldier Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/27/12.  ID thanks to Ken Wolgemuth. Spined Soldier Bug nymph, with beak out.  Durham, NC, 6/11/19 Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris [Say, 1832]) adult, Durham, 6/18/05.  This is an especially important predator.  Notice how the membranous parts of the wings overlap at the rear, just behind the triangle-shaped "scutellum" in the front.  According to Podisus Online, this bug has proved its effectiveness in controlling the Southern Green Stink Bug, as well as the Colorado Potato Beetle and several Noctuidae family moth caterpillars.        

Green Stink Bug (Chinavia hilaris), Nezarini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

NOTE: There seems to be some controversy about whether the Acrosternum hilare species is found in America (as well as in Europe), and therefore whether American Green Stink Bugs should be named Chinavia hilaris.

Green Stink Bug nymph,  Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC, 8/11/05.  Apparently an early instar, i.e., stage of development in the immature insect, demarcated by a molt. Green Stink Bug nymph, Boone, Watauga County, 8/31/05.  ID according to Iowa State University's Entomology Image Gallery website.  This is apparently an early instar (2nd or 3rd), but later than the one on the left.  Order a product with this picture on it at our online store. Green Stink Bug nymph, Blue Ridge Parkway shoulder, between Boone and the Linn Cove Viaduct, NC, 8/17/15.  ID confirmed by Ken Wolgemuth. Green Stink Bug nymph, Sandy Creek Park, NC, 10/14/12 Green Stink bug nymph, appeared on San Antonio River bank.  San Antonio, Bexar County, TX, 5/28/10.  A later instar. Green Stink Bug nymph, Moses Cone Memorial Park, Watauga County, NC, 8/31/05.   ID according to the University of Kentucky Critter Files.  According to information at University of Missouri (at Columbia) Extension's stink bug (as soybean pest) page,  i.e., "pale, yellow-green color with black markings," this is probably a fourth or later instar. Green Stink Bug adult, Durham, NC, 1/4/17 Green Stink Bug adult, Durham, NC, 9/20/11  

Red-shouldered Stink Bug (Thyanta custator)

Red-shouldered Stink bug (Thyanta genus, Thyanta subgenus, custator species). Yes, the pink markings are characteristic of this species! Subgenus ID thanks to Andrew Meed. Species ID thanks to Vassily Belov.  

Rough (or Tree) Stink Bugs (Brochymena genus, Halyini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily)

Tree Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata), Durham, NC, 10/29/13 Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata) nymph, Durham, NC, 8/25/09 Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata) is apparently the most common species), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 11/14/07.  Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena arborea), Durham, NC, 11/9/10 Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena carolinensis), Durham, NC, 4/15/10 Rough Stink Bug nymph, Boone, NC, 8/4/08.  Seen in woods on Boone Green Way Trail.

Pentatomini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus genus)

Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus genus), Durham, NC, 6/7/12 Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus genus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 10/18/06.  Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus genus [Say, 1832]), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/25/07 Brown Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 5/29/08  Stink bug (Euschistus ictericus), Durham, NC, 8/21/06.  Seen on cattail in my neighborhood swamp.  ID thanks to v belov. Well-camouflaged Brown Stink Bug nymph, on a Common Dandelion seedhead. Brown Stink Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 6/11/09.  ID: Forestry Images image # 1242034

Menecles insertus [Say, 1832]

Stink bug (Menecles insertus), Durham, NC, 1/1/15 Stink bug (Menecles insertus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 2/9/06.   Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID.  These bugs are relatively common here in the Research Triangle area.  But their relative unimportance agriculturally has made them a very obscure species. Stink bug (Menecles insertus) nymph, Durham, NC, 5/16/08          

Mormidea lugens [Fabricius, 1775]

Stink bug (Mormidea lugens [Fabricius, 1775), Duke Forest, Korstian Division, Orange County, NC, 6/11/06.  This little critter was about ¼ inch long.. Stink Bug (Mormidea lugens, Carpocorini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily), appeared near the Visitor Center. Bug nymph (Mormidea lugens).  ID thanks to Brandon Woo. Durham, NC, 6/16/12          

Rice Stink Bugs (Oebalus pugnax [Fabricius, 1775])

Rice Stink Bugs mating, Durham, NC, 7/2/12 Rice Stink Bug, Durham, 6/27/09.  This bug attacks rice and sorghum, but lives as a nymph on wild grasses, including marsh vegetation, as shown here. Rice Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 4/25/08 Rice Stink Bugs: two mating pairs, Durham, NC, 6/19/13.         

Rice Stink Bug nymph, with wing pads, dorsal view, Durham, NC, 7/18/09.  Seen in a marsh.          

Banasa genus, Pentatomini tribe, Pentatominae subfamilyl

Stink bug (Banasa calva [Stal, 1860]), Durham, 3/2/06, 9:28 pm.  ID based on Marshall (2006), p. 112. Stink Bug (Banasa dimiata), Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 7/22/09          

Carpocorini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Stink bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana), McAfee's Knob, Roanoke, VA, 6/15/11

Unidentified Stink Bug Nymphs

An early-instar true bug nymph is apparently attacking a treehopper (Telamona decorata).  I am guessing that this nymph is a stink bug.  Durham, NC, 5/6/09. First-instar stink bug nymphs and eggs, Durham, NC, 5/19/15            

Acanthosomatid Bugs (Acanthosomatidae family, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Shield bug (Elasmucha genus), with parasitic mite attached.  Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 296), Caldwell County, NC, 8/5/08

Shield-backed Bugs (family Scutelleridae, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

The large scutellum of the adult bug takes up its entire back.  At first glance, though, it looks as though it lacks one altogether!

Shield-backed bug (Homaemus parvulus), Durham, NC, 7/27/08.  About 5 mm long. Shield-backed Pine Seed Bug (Tetyra bipunctata), Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area, New hanover County, NC, 12/3/12 Shield-backed bug, Durham, NC, 11/12/12 Shield-backed Bug, Durham, NC, 5/7/08

Burrower Bugs (family Cydnidae, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

These bugs burrow underground and live on plant roots, but apparently climb up on plants, too.  Their numbers are apparently not great enough for them to be considered pests.

Burrower Bug (Pangaeus bilineatus), Durham, 8/24/07.  This bug was about 5 mm long. Mating White-lined Burrower Bugs (Sehira cinctus), Daniel Boone Gardens, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/5/08. White-lined Burrower Bug  Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 3/17/06.  About ¼ inch long.  Not sure why a member of this family would be high up on a plant.  Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID.  This picture was included in Wezi G. Mhango's Field Guide Contribution for CSS 360, a Crop and Soil Science course at Michigan State University.   This guide explains the role of True Bugs in soil ecology. White-lined Burrower Bug nymph (Sehira cinctus), Durham, 5/18/05

Ebony Bugs (family Thyreocoridae, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Ebony Bug, Durham, NC, 6/8/09.  Probably a nymph; wing pads are visible. Most likely Corimelaena obscura because of its round shape and skinny legs.  

Kudzu Bugs or Bean Plataspid Bugs (Plataspidae family, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Kudzu Bugs, native to China and India, were first seen in northeastern Georgia in 2009, and entered North Carolina in 2011.

Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria), downtown Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC, 1/23/12 Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria), side view, Durham, NC, 8/1/19

Flat Bugs (family Aradidae, superfamily Aradoidea,infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Adult female flat bug (Aradus approximatus) , Durham, NC, 4/23/08. Thanks to Daniel Ryan Swanson for sex, genus and species ID and to  John R. Maxwell for family ID.    

Stilt Bugs (family Berytidae, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Stilt Bugs (Jalysus wickhami), Durham, NC, 7/1/07.  You can see the beak on the left one in the large image.  They showed up in the little marsh near a power line cut in my neighborhood.  They touched each other and seemed to be communicating. Stilt Bug, Penny's Bend, 10/15/05 Stilt Bug, Indian Creek Trail, a Jordan Lake Game Land, Chatham County, NC, 7/7/06 Stilt Bug, Durham, NC, 8/30/06

Chinch Bugs (family Blissidae, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

These are known corn pests, but they apparently can get along on cattails.

Chinch Bug (Blissus leucopterus) on a cattail leaf, about 2 mm long.  Durham, NC, 7/30/10 Chinch Bug (Blissus leucopterus), on the tip of an agave leaf.  About 1-2 mm long.  Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, MS, 10/16/10. Chinch Bug (Blissus leucopterus).  Cypress Gardens, Berkeley County, SC, 10/13/07.  Very tiny (2 mm long): it looked like a fly at first.

Big-Eyed Bugs (Family Geocoridae, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Big-eyed bug (Geocoris uliginosus), Durham, NC, 10/22/10, about 3 mm long Big-eyed bug (Geocoris uliginosus) on moss rose, Durham, NC, 8/3/14        

Seed Bugs (Family Lygaeidae, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Milkweed Bugs are similar to Monarch Butterflies in that they use the poisons from the milkweed plant as a defense against predators and warn of this danger to them with their coloring.

Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus, subfamily Lygaeinae)

Large Milkweed Bug(Oncopeltus fasciatus [Dallas, 1852]) on a milkweed pod, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, 10/4/07.  Note the fuzzy surface of the pod.

Large Milkweed Bug .  NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC, 7/8/05.   It appears to have lost its right forewing and the left one is unusually pale. Large Milkweed Bug, apparently a nymph.  Fort Fisher, New Hanover County, NC, 6/22/06 Large Milkweed Bug nymphs, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, 11/26/05 Large Milkweed Bug nymphs, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/11/04

Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii, subfamily Lygaeinae)

Small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmii [Stal, 1874]), Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 3/2/08. Small Milkweed Bug, NC Botanical Garden, 8/17/06. Same Small Milkweed Bug, NC Botanical Garden, 8/17/06.

White-crossed Seed Bugs (Neacoryphus bicrucis, subfamily Lygaeinae)

White-crossed Seed Bug (Neacoryphus bicrucis [Say, 1825], subfamily Lygaeinae), Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 5/23/06

Sycamore Seed Bugs (Belonochilus numenius, subfamily Orsillinae)

Sycamore Seed Bug, about 15 mm long.  ID thanks to Vassily Belov.

Pachygronthidae family, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Bug (Oedancala dorsalis), Durham, NC, 7/29/07.  This bug was about 8 mm long.  Found in a power line cut near a small marsh in my neighborhood. Bug (Oedancala dorsalis), Durham, NC, 6/29/09 Bug (Oedancala genus) nymph on sedge.  ID thanks to Brandon Woo.  

Rhyparochromid Seed Bugs (Rhyparochromidae family, superfamily Lygaeoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Rhyparochromic (true) bug, which looked very much like an ant when scurrying over this sidewalk in Durham, NC on 9/21/11.  About 3 mm long. Rhyparochromid seed bug (Ozophora picturata), Durham, NC, 7/21/11.  Photo taken at night.  Very lively, apparently attracted by light. Rhychromid seed bug (Pseudopachybrachius basalis, Myodochini tribe, Rhyparochrominae subfamily,  Rhyparochromidae family, Lygaeoidea superfamily), on cattail leaf.  Rhyparochromid Seed Bug nymph (Myodochini tribe, possibly Slaterobius genus.)  ID thanks to Vassily Belov.  Durham, NC, 5/14/11          

Largid Bugs (family Largidae, superfamily Pyrrhocoroidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Largus succinctus [Linnaeus, 1763], Goose Creek State Park, Beaufort County, NC, 11/6/07.

Squash Bugs and Leaffooted Bugs (family Coreidae, superfamily Coreoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

These are very large insects, often reaching two inches in length including antennae.  They are mostly crop pests.  They overwinter in my area and make frequent appearances on warm days late in the year. 

Squash Bug (Anasa tristis)

Squash Bug (Anasa tristis) nymph at Johnson Farm, Peaks of Otter, Bedford County, 8/22/18.  ID thanks to Yurika Alexander.  

Orange-tipped Leaffooted Bug (Acanthocephala terminalis)

Adult Orange-tipped Leaffooted Bug (Acanthocephala terminalis), Durham, 7/4/05. Orange-tipped Leaffooted Bug, Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 6/4/06          

Leaffooted Bugs (Leptoglossus genus)

Leaffooted bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis), 10/27/10.  Photo by Greg Cogswell.  Alas, I neglected to ask Greg where the photo was taken, but this species is most commonly found in the western US and Canada. A species of adult Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus [Linnaeus, 1767]), Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC, 6/9/06.  Here you can see the characteristic light dorsal double dash.  ID based on Featured Creatures information. Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus phyllopolus), Durham, 10/18/06 Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus oppositus [Say, 1832]),  Asheboro, Randolph County, NC, 11/13/05.  This is the predominant Leptoglossus species where I live.        

Leaffooted Bug Nymphs

There are many instars, and probably at least two species represented in these photos.  However, they are probably all members of the Leptoglossus genus, to judge from their antennae colors.

Leaffooted Bug nymphs, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill access, Durham County, NC, 6/15/06.  Very early instars. Even more Leaffooted Bug nymphs!  Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 5/31/07 Leaffooted bug nymphs, Ft. Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, NC, 10/15/09.  They were moving very fast, looked like fire ants at first. Leaffooted Bug  nymph, Durham, 6/6/05.  This bug appeared on my car for no apparent reason.  An early instar.

Leaffooted Bug nymph, middle instar, Durham, NC, 6/14/13 Leaffooted bug nymph, Durham, NC, 6/10/12 Leaffooted Bug nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/23/05 Leaffooted Bug nymph, 7/14/06.  Much smaller than adults: only about a half inch long.  I found this one in the street and moved it to a plant on my lawn. Leaffooted bug nymph, Linn Cove Viaduct Visitors Center trail, Avery County, NC, 7/8/11          

Leaffooted Bug nymph, Durham, 7/4/06, on a Scuppernong grape vine.  A later instar: wing pads are still very small. Later-instar Leaffooted Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 8/1/08.  Wing pads are small, Durham, NC, 8/1/08. Leaffooted bug nymph, late instar, Durham, NC, 6/26/09 Late-instar leaffooted bug nymph, American Tobacco Trail (~Mile 5), 6/24/10 Leaffooted bug nymph, Durham, NC, 7/21/18 Late-instar Leaffooted Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 8/16/08.  Wing pads are fairly large. Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus genus) nymph, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 9/15/06.  This late-instar nymph was about 3/4 inch long.

Scentless Plant Bugs (family Rhopalidae, superfamily Coreoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Rhopalinae subfamily 

Rhopalid bug, Durham, NC, 8/24/07.  Found in the same power line cut. Rhopalid bug (Niesthrea genus, Niesthreini tribe), Durham, NC, 10/9/10 Rhopalid bug (Niesthrea genus, Niesthreini tribe), Durham, 6/17/06 Rhopalid bug (Harmostes reflexulus, Harmostini tribe), Penny's Bend, Durham, NC, 5/24/08 Rhopalid plant bug (Harmostes reflexulus), 5/22/15, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC.  ID thanks to Ken Wolgemuth.  

Serinethinae subfamily 

Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata), Durham, NC, 11/18/07 Boxelder Bug, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC, 7/31/06.  This bug apparently had been attacked, and had lost its right wings. Boxelder Bug nymph (taken on city path leading to Old Salem) Boxelder Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/6/09 Boxelder Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/15/09

Mating Boxelder Bugs, two of dozens, maybe hundreds, where the trail first came beside Sandy Creek.  Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC, 3/19/10          

Red-shouldered Bug  nymph (Jadera haematoloma), Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC, 6/9/06.  Adult Red-shouldered Bug, Raulston Arboretum, 6/9/06.  Maybe a nymph of the same species as that on the left, found in the same small area in the Asian plants section. ID made referring to Georgia state Boxelder Bugs factsheet.        

Broad-headed Bugs (family Alydidae, superfamily Coreoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Broad-headed Bug (Alydus eurinus), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/21/06 Broad-headed Bug (Alydus eurinus), Flat River Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/4/10 Broad-headed Bug (Alydus eurinus), Durham, NC, 10/27/07 Broad-headed Bug (Alydus eurinus), Indian Creek Trail, a Jordan Lake Game Land, Chatham County, NC, 7/7/06

Assassin Bugs  (family Reduviidae, superfamily Reduvoidea, infraorder Cimicomorpha)

Assassin bugs are reputed to have inflict pain on humans with their beaks if mishandled by them.  They are not known to be dangerous in the US.  However, in tropical areas of the New World those of the Triatoma genus are known to transmit Chagas Disease to humans.

Harpactorinae subfamily

Wheel Bugs (Arilus cristatus [Linnaeus, 1763])

These are relatively large predaceous insects that eat a wide range of other insects, including moths, beetles, and stink bugs.   Unlike other species of Assassin Bugs, e.g., genus Sinea, these bugs do not have spines on their legs.

Wheel Bug with damselfly prey, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 10/5/19 Wheel Bug with one antennae on an aphid (on goldenrod), American Tobacco Trail, Durham, NC, 10/6/19 Mating Wheel Bugs, Durham, NC, 10/26/09 Wheel Bug, Durham, NC, 11/20/07 Wheel Bug, Durham, NC, 11/1/07 with Bumblebee prey.  Note the bug's long red beak.

Wheel Bug Nymphs

Nymphs in the first row are early instars; the second, late instars.

Sixteen Wheel Bug nymphs, Catawba County, NC, 4/3/11.  Appeared on clothing in a wooded area, perhaps by contact with vegetation.  Photo taken by Randy Miller, who said they were about half a centimeter long (5 mm). Wheel Bug nymph, Durham, 6/2/06.  This bug, not so well-fed, has its beak inserted in a flower.  Predatory insects also seek nectar as a rule. Wheel bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/26/19 Very well-fed Wheel Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/10/08 Wheel Bug, Durham, NC, 5/26/19 Wheel Bug nymph, Korstian Division, Duke Forest, Orange County, NC, 6/11/06


Wheel Bug nymph (late instar) with prey, perhaps Flatid Planthopper nymphs.  Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 6/23/05. Wheel Bug nymph (late instar) with prey (apparently some kind of ladybug beetle larva), Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/15/06. Wheel Bug nymph, late instar, Durham, NC, 6/13/09 Wheel Bug late-instar nymph, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 6/25/09 This Wheel Bug nymph had just completed a molt, discarding a dark exuvia.   

Zelus Genus Assassin Bugs

Milkweed Assassin Bug (Zelus longipes), Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/11/09 Maybe a Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph (foreshortened), Durham, NC, 8/18/19 Assassin bug (Zelus luridus), Durham, NC, 8/10/13 Assassin bug (Zelus luridus), Durham, NC, 8/7/19 Assassin bug (Zelus luridus) nymph, Durham, NC, 9/20/14 Assassin bug (Zelus luridus) nymph, Durham, NC, 8/1/09 Assassin bug (Zelus luridus), Durham, NC, 8/11/14 Assassin bug, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 11/16/05.  I found this bug in a grassy field.  The very long antennae are truncated.

Bee Assassins (Apiomerus crassipes)

Bee Assassin (Apiomerus crassipes [Fabricius, 1803], subfamily Apiomerinae), NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/29/05.  ID based on U. of Florida's Stink Bug Trap page. Bee Assassin, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Rd. access, Orange County, NC, 6/15/06

Ringed Assassin Bug (Pselliopus cinctus)

[Fabricius, 1776], subfamily Harpactorinae, Durham, 1/11/06.It has parasites, a kind of tachinid fly: Yonke and Medler, 1970.

Ringed Assassin Bug (Pselliopus cinctus) nymph with two acanaloniid planthopper nymphs, Jordan Lake Gamelands, Chathma County, NC, 7/12/15 Ringed Assassin Bug (Pselliopus cinctus) with caterpillar prey, Durham, NC, 9/14/19 Pselliopus cinctus, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 9/16/16 Assassin bug (Pselliopus cinctus) nymph on Marsh Fleabane with hopper prey, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/6/15 Pselliopus cinctus assassin bug, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/12/12 Pselliopus cinctus, Durham, NC, 11/28/12.  Appeared on a wall of my house.  

Pselliopus cinctus nymphs

Note the similarity to the adults of this species just above.  Unlike adults, however, they lack wings and have lots of abdominal spines.

Pselliopus Cinctus nymph, American Tobacco Trail (Miles 4-6), Durham, NC, 7/8/10 Pselliopus cinctus nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/23/05

Spined Assassin Bugs (Sinea diadema, subfamily Harpactorinae)

These nymphs have spiky forelegs, which seems to be unusual for adult Assassin Bugs in this part of the country.  The  second and third nymphs from the left were similar in size (about ⅛ inch long), although their colors are different; the leftmost nymph was larger.   In the second picture, the insect's elongated head (with one prominent antenna) blocks part of the view of the right foreleg.   Thanks to Eric R. Eaton for ID.

Spined Assassin Bug nymph (Sinea diadema), Durham, NC, 6/17/07.  This bug was about 3 mm long. Spined Assassin Bug(Sinea diadema) nymph, Durham, NC, 5/28/09.   A very early instar, about 3 mm long. Spined Assassin Bug(Sinea diadema) nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/23/05.  Also very tiny, and it's a good thing, too!

Spined Assassin Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 7/4/08.  A later instar. Spined Assassin Bug nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Rd. access, 8/17/08.  A later instar.  

Emesinae subfamily

Bugs of the below species wiggle constantly when they walk, and researchers have proposed an explanation: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/10/26/the-strumming-assassin-that-hunts-spiders-on-their-own-webs/#more-2924

A thread-legged bug (Stenolemus bituberus), photographed at night in Durham, NC, 7/26/12 Thread-legged Bug (Stenolemus  bituberus), Durham, 8/11/06.  ID thanks to Lynette Elliott.  This photo was taken at night.

Ectrichodiinae subfamily

Assassin Bug (Rhiginia cruciata), Tanawha Trail, near Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 305, Avery County, North Carolina, USA
7/7/16. ID thanks to Ross Hill.

Ambush Bugs (subfamily Phymatinae, family Reduviidae, superfamily Reduvoidea, intraorder Cimicomorpha)

These are predaceous insects that station themselves on flowers in brushy areas to ambush smaller insects.   They often hide in sprays of goldenrod flowers, and can be retrieved during some summers by running one's hand through them.  Their camouflage is effective but not perfect, though! 

Ambush bug, American Tobacco Trail, Durham, NC, 10/6/19 Ambush bug, Durham, NC, 8/28/18 Ambush bug (well-camouflaged on an aster), North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/29/14 Ambush Bug(Phymata genus) Durham, 7/15/05, awaits a weevil on a Queen Anne's lace flower. Ambush Bug, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/5/08 Ambush Bug, on goldenrod.  Cypress Gardens, Berkeley County, SC, 10/13/07. Ambush Bug,Little River Regional Park, Orange County, NC, 10/20/07

Ambush bug nymph, Durham, NC, 7/24/15 Ambush Bug nymph, about 2 mm long, Durham, NC, 6/30/08 Ambush Bug, Durham, NC, 8/23/08 Ambush Bug, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/17/08    

Plant Bugs (family Miridae, superfamily Miroidea, infraorder Cimicomorpha)

This herbivorous family comprises about 300 documented genera and about 10,000 species.   However, very few have agricultural importance in North Carolina.   The bugs shown below appeared in brush, wetlands and on undeveloped property and were small enough to be overlooked by most people (with the possible exception of Yucca Plant Bugs, which appear by the dozen on agave plants).   Identification of most of these insects below the family level is a special form of torture for all but specialists in this area.

Mirinae subfamily

Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris)

Here is an informative link:


Tarnished Plant Bug on wild onion, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 6/7/14 Tarnished Plant Bug on Daisy Fleabane, Durham, NC, 5/23/15 Crab spider with Tarnished Plant Bug prey and flies, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/22/15 Tarnished Plant Bug on Spotted Jewelweed flower, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/6/08

Tarnished Plant Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 6/9/14 Tarnished Plant Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/31/18 Tarnished Plant Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/29/15 Tarnished Plant Bug nymph sipping nectar from a Black-eyed Susan flower, Durham, NC, 5/31/15 Tiny Tarnished Plant Bug nymph, watched by an ambush bug, Durham, NC, 9/30/18        

Clouded Plant Bug (Neurocolpus nubilus)

Plant bug (Neurocolpus genus), Durham, NC, 8/4/18 Plant bug (Neurocolpus genus, tribe Mirini), about 3 mm long.  It landed on this leaf after flying.  The red is natural, not an artifact of using the flash: it was red in flight in the shade. Plant bug (Neurocolpus genus), Durham, NC, 6/29/09.  Found in local marsh.

No common name (Tropidosteptes genus)

Plant bug, Tropidosteptes genus, Miridae family.  This one was about 2 mm long and hopping around in the street.  I thought it was a gnat at first.  ID thanks to Vassily Belov.          

Four-lined Plant Bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus)

Four-lined Plant Bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus), Wind Rock, Giles County, VA, 6/16/11          

No common name (Orthops scutellaris)

Plant bug (Orthops scutellatus).  ID thanks to WonGun Kim.          

No common name (Polymerus basalis)

Plant bug (Polymerus basalis).  ID thanks to Yurika Alexander.  

No common name (Taedia multisignata)

Plant bug (Taedia multisignata).  Genus ID thanks to WonGun Kim. Species ID thanks to Jason Botz.    


Bryocorinae subfamily

Yucca Plant Bug (Halticotoma valida), on agave plant at NC Botanical Garden, 11/21/07 Yucca Plant Bug nymph, less than 1 mm long.  Seen in neighborhood garden, Durham, NC, 6/29/09.  

Lopidea genus, Orthotylini tribe, Orthotylinae subfamily

Mirid bug nymph, Asheville, NC, 7/7/05.  A nymph, possibly of this family, with small wing pads.  Thanks to Eric Eaton for family ID. Mirid bug nymph, Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 5/5/06.  This bug was about ¼ inch long without the antennae. Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID. Mirid bug (Lopidea genus), Durham, NC, 4/30/19 Mirid Bug (Lopidea genus), Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 5/24/08 Mirid bug (Lopidea genus), North Carolina Museum of Art outdoor trail, Wake County, NC, 5/8/07

Phylinae subfamily (maybe)

Mirid Bug, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake  County, NC, 9/30/07, about 4 mm long.  Might be a member of subfamily Phylinae.

Other Miridae

Mirid Bug? Duke Gardens, 10/20/07 Mirid Bug, Durham, 9/19/05.  This bug appeared in a marsh in my neighborhood.  Mirid Bug, Durham, NC, 5/23/09 Plant bug, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 6/26/14      

Mirid bug nymph, Durham, NC, 11/9/07.  Mystery True Bug nymph, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Wake County, NC, 10/28/07.  This 12 mm long insect was scurrying up a tree trunk.  The antennae suggest that it's a Miridae family nymph.        

Lace Bugs (family Tingidae, infraorder Cimicomorpha)

Chrysanthemum Lace Bug, Durham, 6/30/14 Lace bug (Tingidae family), Durham, NC, 7/27/08 Lace bug (Teleonemia genus), Riverside Nature Center, Kerrville, Kerr County, TX, 5/27/10, 2 or 3 mm long.  I'd guess the species was nigrina.    

Damsel Bugs (family Nabidae, superfamily Cimicoidea, infraorder Cimicomorpha)

Damsel bug (Nabis genus), Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 6/25/11   Damsel bug (Lasiomerus annulatus, Nabidae family), Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 6/24/09 Damsel bug, Durham, 7/27/05. This picture was taken at night.   

Water Measurers (family Hydrometridae, superfamily Hydrometroidea, infraorder Gerromorpha)

The Gerromorpha are "semi-aquatic" bugs. 

Water measurer, (Hydrometra genus).  In same infraorder as water treaders (Gerromorpha).  About 12 mm long.  San Antonio Botanical Garden, Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10          

Water Striders (family Gerridae, superfamily Gerroidea, infraorder Gerromorpha)

To read about experimental work on the physics of water striding, see MIT strider study page.

Common Water Strider (Gerris remigis [Say, 1832]), Durham, 4/15/05.  Family info provided by Josh Rose.  Mating Common Water Striders, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 5/29/05.  You can see their wings if you look closely. Mating Common Water Striders, Eno River SP, Orange County, NC, 4/28/06.  They are on the Eno River, which was unusually high after two days of heavy rain.

Water strider (Trepobates genus?) nymph, about an inch long, the biggest I've ever seen. NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/9/11 Water strider (Trepobates subnitidus) nymph, Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, VA, 7/9/09.  Seen in artificial pool. Water strider, (Trepobates subnitidus) nymph, Haw River State Park, Rockingham County, NC, 5/30/08.   One of many in a pond.      

Broad-shouldered Water Treaders (family Veliidae, superfamily Gerroidea, infraorder Gerromorpha)

These aquatic insects probably represent different stages in the life cycle of members of this family, possibly all members of the Microvelia americana species.

Adult Broad-shouldered Water Treader (Microvelia genus), Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 8/2/07.  This bug was less than 2 mm long. Broad-shouldered Water Treader nymph: wing pads seem to be evident.  Durham, NC, 12/15/08 Broad-shouldered water treader nymph, about 2 mm long.  Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 9/3/08 Broad-shouldered water treader nymph, about 1 mm long.  It's so tiny it doesn't make an impression on the water at all!  Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 9/3/08 Broad-shouldered water treader (Microvelia americana), Durham, NC, 9/22/05.  Maybe a very early instar.

Broad-shouldered Water Treaders (Rhagovelia obesa).  These tiny insects, no more than 1 mm long, were in frantic motion at Bobbitt Hole at the Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 4/24/10.      

Shore Bugs (family Saldidae, superfamily Leptopodoidea, infraorder Leptopodomorpha)

Chiloxanthinae subfamily

Shore bug (Pentacora ligata), Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 7/8/14 Shore bug (Pentacora ligata), Dismal Falls, Giles County, VA, 6/14/11

Saldinae subfamily

Shore Bug (Saldula pallipes), Durham, 4/9/06.  Seen in a large marsh bordering on a swamp.  This bug was about ⅛ inch long.  These are scavengers. Shore bug (Salda lugubris), seen in a drainage conduit to a pond, Durham, NC, 5/6/17. ID thanks to Vassily Belov.          

(Eyed) Toad Bugs (Gelastocoris oculatus [Fabricius, 1798], family Gelastocoridae, superfamily Gelastocoroidea, infraorder Nepomorpha)

The Nepomorpha are "semi-aquatic" bugs.   I found some not far from a swamp in my neighborhood, one on a lake shore, and one on the banks of a river.

There are two subspecies of Gelastocoris oculatus.  Gelastocoris oculatus oculatus is more studied in the US, but I am not jumping to any conclusions.

Toad Bug scooting across the water surface of a small stream, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 10/26/11 Toad bug swimming, in a puddle that was an extension of overflowing Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 10/14/16.  This was on the west side of Highway 751, after a tropical storm brought water into a cornfield. Toad bug lying in shallow water. Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 10/14/16.  Same location as bug on left. Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 6/15/17 Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 9/26/16 Another Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 9/26/16 Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 8/30/15.  Perhaps a nymph. Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 5/22/15.  Toad Bug, Durham, NC, 4/17/09, which was hopping wildly on a walkway near a creek. Toad bug, Jordan Lake east of the NC-751 bridge, Chatham County, NC, 10/28/17   Mating  toad bugs, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Eno River SP, 6/16/12 Toad Bug, Jordan Lake shore, Chatham County, NC, 10/16/05

Backswimmers (family Notonectidae, superfamily Notonectoidea, infraorder Nepomorpha)

Common Backswimmer (Notonecta glauca, tribe Notonectini, subfamily Notonectinae), in a drainage ditch, Durham, NC, 5/18/08 Backswimmer.  This bug showed up on the edge of a dried-up drainage ditch in a heavily wooded area in Durham on 6/11/08. Backswimmer, another view of the Backswimmer on the left (retreating, in reverse), Durham, NC, 6/11/08  See other true bugs.

Water Boatmen (family Corixidae, superfamily Corixoidea, infraorder Nepomorpha)

No True Bugs can get oxygen from water and, as is the case for all aquatic bugs, have to come to the surface to do it.   And yes, according to Marshall (2006), p. 99, they do get to use their wings: they fly to other bodies of water sometimes.  Unfortunately for bug photographers, it's an unusual event!  These animals are rarely more than 2 mm long.

Water boatman nymph (best one!), Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC 3/20/17 A single Water Boatman nymphat the lake's edge at  a Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 11/3/11.  You can see its oarlike appendages. Four Water Boatman nymphs with a tiny leaf (also submerged), a Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 11/3/11.  These and many others appeared in the shallowest waters of Jordan Lake, near large mudflats.


Adult water boatman, Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 2/8/17 Adult water boatman, Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 1/13/17 Another adult water boatman with mysterious circular motion, Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC 6/15/17 Adult Water Boatman (possibly Arctocoriza genus), Jordan Lake Game Land, 12/17/06.  This bug showed up on the bottom of a rather muddy puddle, hence the necessity for image processing.  It scooted around the puddle using oar-like legs.          

Giant Water Bugs (family Belostomatidae, superfamily Nepoidea, infraorder Nepomorpha)

As is the case with all true bugs, these insects have wings as adults and sometimes fly from bodies of water in search of others.

Giant water bug (Belostoma flumineum), on the bank of Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 9/1/16 Giant Water Bug (Belostoma flumineum) in shallow water, Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC  7/8/14 Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus genus, Lethocerinae subfamily), Minnesota Twins Ballpark canopy roof, Minneapolis, MN, 10/19/09.  Photo by Paul Leskovac, lead project architect for this newly built ballpark; he described the bug as being 1.5-2 inches long and flying away with a loud, startling buzz.  The temperature at the time was about 40° F. This shows where the Giant Water Bug was spotted, about 90 feet off the ground, and where it flew (shown with red arrows).  Paul Leskovac took this photo too.  This photo was taken on 11/15/09.    

Copyright © 2018 by Dorothy E. Pugh.  All rights reserved.  Please contact for rights to use photos.