Assassin Bugs, Capsid Bugs, and related Mirids of Columbia County, Oregon

Assassin Bugs, Capsid Bugs, and the rest of the insects on this page are all members of Cimicomorpha, an infraorder of True Bugs (order Hemiptera). They are most closely related to Pentatomomorpha, the Stink Bugs and Shield Bugs, and are somewhat more distantly related to Water Bugs and Water Striders.

Like all true bugs, the members of this group have piercing/sucking mouthparts. Many of these species are predators that hunt down other insects, injecting a chemical that liquifies their insides and then sucking out the fluids, while others use those mouthparts to suck plant sap. They have a hard exoskeleton.

Note on identifications – in the “nymph” stage, many of these bugs go through several color phases quite different from those of their parents. As it would be too cumbersome to show every possible nymph stage for every species, I’ve chosen to only focus on adults. If you wish to identify a nymph you will have to look up the individual species or post to Bugguide or iNaturalist.

Assassin and Ambush Bugs (Reduviidae)

Members of the family Reduviidae are great predators, reflected in their violent names. They tend to have a sleek body, long neck/head, and extended proboscis with which they stab their prey. In most cases they hunt by ambush, waiting in flowers or other hidden areas for their unsuspecting prey to approach. They can deliver a painful bite to the hands if captured.

Leafhopper Assassin Bug Zelus renardii columbia county northwest oregon
Leafhopper Assassin Bug (Zelus renardii) – 0.4-0.6″. Long body with a cylindrical head, yellow-brown above and greenish-yellow below, with reddish corium. Found in variety of habitats. Eats insects. (photo © Patricia)
Four-spurred Assassin Bug Zelus tetracanthus columbia county northwest oregon
Four-spurred Assassin Bug (Zelus tetracanthus) – To 0.65″. Gray to brown, slender body with long legs. Distinctly has pair of spikes on each “shoulder” rather than just one each. Found on shrubs and trees in natural areas. (photo © Steve Wells)
Thorn-necked Assassin Bug Pselliopus spinicollis columbia county northwest oregon
Thorn-necked Assassin Bug (Pselliopus spinicollis) – To 0.5″. Robust, with grayish head and thorax, reddish abdomen, striking white legs with black bars and speckles. Pronotum is covered in spikes. (photo © James Bailey)
American Jagged Ambush Bug Phymata americana columbia county northwest oregon
American Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata americana) -To 0.5″. Yellow body with jagged black markings and bulky front legs that act as pinchers. (photo © Howard Bruner)
red-spotted thread-legged bug Empicoris rubromaculatus columbia county northwest oregon
Thread-legged Bugs (Empicoris sp.) -To 0.25″. Very slender brown bugs with four thread-like legs to walk and two pincher-like legs to attack prey. (photo © Alex Bairstow)

Damsel Bugs (Nabidae)

Quite similar to Assassin Bugs, the Damsel Bugs are predators, hunting insects among plants and on the ground. Many Damsel Bugs use their front legs as pinchers to grasp their prey.

Wood-grained Damsel Bug Nabis roseipennis columbia county northwest oregon
Wood-grained Damsel Bug (Nabis roseipennis) – To 0.4″. Various shades of brown richly veined. Head black below. Moderate in girth. Found in crops and gardens, though also hides in leaf litter or under bark. (photo © Jason Michael Crockwell)

Western Damsel Bug Nabis alternatus columbia county northwest oregon
Western Damsel Bug (Nabis alternatus) – To 0.35″. A slender damsel bug, grayish to grayish-brown in color. Scutellum dark brown with two small isolated yellow spots. Legs lightly speckled. Can be found in crops. (photo © Ken-ichi Ueda)
Gray Damsel Bug Himacerus major columbia county northwest oregon
Gray Damsel Bug (Himacerus major) – To 0.35″. Grayish-brown with black dorsal line and some black spotting on thorax. Dark on upper legs. Found in grassland habitats, especially near shorelines. (photo © bazwal)

Minute Pirate Bugs (Nabidae)

Also known as “Flower Bugs”, these are very small bugs, often colored in black and white. They are tiny predators that hide waiting inside of flowers and galls. In many cases they are released by gardeners and farmers in an attempt to control aphids, thrips, plant lice, spider mites, caterpillar eggs, and other small pests.

smokey flower bug Orius tristicolor columbia county northwest oregon
Smoky Flower Bug (Orius tristicolor) – 0.1″. Very deep black head and thorax with three distinct transparent patches on the wings that give cloudy white impression. Entire scutellum is deep black. Found in orchards, crops, and gardens. (photo © K Schneider)

Insidious Flower Bug Orius insidiosus columbia county northwest oregon
Insidious Flower Bug (Orius insidiosus) – 0.1″. Deep black, with a yellowish-brown patch on each wing which invades into the scutellum and a transparent-white patch on the end. Introduced from Europe for pest control. (photo © Robby Deans)
Thicket Pirate Bug Anthocoris nemoralis colubmia county northwest oregon
Thicket Pirate Bug (Anthocoris nemoralis) – 0.15″. Richly patterned in brown, black, white and gray, difficult to distinguish from related species but no others appear established in our region. Introduced from Europe to control pests in orchards. (photo © Rasmus Allesoee)

Capsid Bugs (Miridae)

Also known as Mirid Bugs, Leaf Bugs, Plant Bugs, or Grass Bugs, some of these species are predatory but many are plant eaters, using their mouthparts to suck sap from leaves, stems, or seeds.

Long Thin Plant Bug Megaloceroea recticornis columbia county oregon
Long Thin Plant Bug (Megaloceroea recticornis) – to 0.4″. Elongate, green to straw with extremely long antennae. Furrow between eyes. Hind legs very long. Found in grassland and meadows, where it feeds on grasses. (photo © Harsi Parker)

Common Green Capsid Bug Lygocoris pabulinus columbia county northwest oregon
Common Green Capsid (Lygocoris pabulinus) – 0.25″. Bright green with smooth pronotum, tiny brown spines on tibia. Feeds on many plants and fruit trees. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Harsi Paker)
Delicate Apple Capsid Bug Malacocoris chlorizans columbia county northwest oregon
Delicate Apple Capsid (Malacocoris chlorizans) – 0.15″. Pale green head with forward-set eyes, transparent wings mottled in green. Found on deciduous trees where it feeds on mites and aphids. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Nicolas Martens)
Linden Mirid Bug Phytocoris tiliae columbia county northwest oregon
 Linden Mirid (Phytocoris tiliae) – 0.25″. Gray-mottled green with black markings. Pronotum lime-green. Named after the linden tree, also found on birch, willow, pear, and hazel. Feeds on other insects. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Eric Carlsen)

Dichrooscytus columbia county northwest oregon
Red-winged Conifer Mirids (Dichrooscytus sp.) – 0.1-0.2″. Greenish bugs with reddish-brown wings. Round on conifers, possibly Noble Fir in our area. Feeds on new growth and young cones. (photo © Jeffrey Lee)
Potato Mirid Closterotomus norwegicus columbia county northwest oregon
Potato Mirid (Closterotomus norwegicus) – 0.25-0.3″. Green with striped reddish-brown highlights on wings. Two black dots on pronotum. Feeds on flowers and buds of potatoes, nettles, clover, and marijuana. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Rodamu)
Two-spotted Grass Bug Stenotus binotatus columbia county northwest oregon
 Two-spotted Grass Bug (Stenotus binotatus) – to 0.3″. Light greenish/yellowish, two large black spots on pronotum with black streaks behind. Wing membranes dark in rear. Found in meadows, feeding on grasses. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Sam Kieschnick)

Meadow Plant Bug Leptopterna dolabrata columbia county northwest oregon
Meadow Plant Bug (Leptopterna dolabrata) – to 0.4″. Yellow with distinct black streaks on thorax. Brownish wings. Antennae are long. Feeds on grasses. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Chris Mallory)
Campyloneura virgula columbia county oregon
Parthenogenic Twig Bug (Campyloneura virgula) – 0.15-0.2″. Brown with black head, yellow scutellum, and transparent wings. Long red-banded antennae. Preys on insects in trees. Introduced from Europe. Reproduces without mating. (photo © Lee Cain)
Three-spined Grass Bug Stenodema trispinosum columbia county northwest oregon
 Three-spined Grass Bug (Stenodema trispinosum) – 0.25″. A slender bug, tan or rarely green, with distinct venal lining. Furrow between eyes. Three spines on the rear portion of the hind femur. Feeds on grains. (photo © Harsi Parker)

Neurocolpus columbia county northwest oregon
Milky Brown Plant Bugs (Neurocolpus sp.) – to 0.35″. Most species are clouded/mottled brown, sometimes with a hint of green. Feed on fruit and flowers of many plants. (photo © David Anderson)
Nonlygus nubilatus columbia county northwest oregon
Red-flecked Clouded Plant Bug (Nonlygus nubilatus) – 0.15″. Clouded milky appearance with large brown markings. Scutellum white with thin red lines. Feeds on ocean spray and similar bushes. (photo © Jesse Rorabaugh)
North American Tarnished Plant Bug Lygus lineolaris columbia county northwest oregon
 North American Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris) – to 0.25″. Brown with lined look, pale yellow V on scutellum. Found in fields and gardens where it feeds on many plants. (photo © Mya T)

Northwest Predaceous Predatory Mirid Bug Deraeocoris brevis columbia county northwest oregon
Northwest Predaceous Mirid (Deraeocoris brevis) – 0.15-0.25″. Dark brown-black body with transparent bronze spots, especially towards rear. Found in orchards and woodlands. Preys on smaller insects. (photo © Rita Clare)
Tiny Predaceous Mirid Bugs Ceratocapsus sp. columbia county northwest oregon
Tiny Predaceous Mirids (Ceratocapsus sp.) – 0.1-0.15″. Very small drab bugs. One species in our area is light brown with much darker markings, but no lines. Tend to be predators on mites and aphids. (photo © Eric Carlson)
Bright-collared Plant Bugs Prepops columbia county northwest oregon
Bright-collared Plant Bugs (Prepops sp.) – to 0.6″. Long black plant bugs, most of which have red, orange, or yellow on the pronotum, scutellum and/or head. Found in woodlands and wooded edges. (photo © Karl Kroeker)

Black Grass Bugs Irbisia columbia county northwest oregon
Black Grass Bugs (Irbisia sp.) – 0.3-0.6″. These bugs are dark, often black. They feed on the juice of grasses and are typically found in open woodland or chaparral. (photo © Briana Lindh)
Flat-horned Mirid Bug Heterotoma planicornis columbia county northwest oregon
Flat-horned Mirid (Heterotoma planicornis) – 0.2″. Slender black bug with green legs. Second antennae segment is broad and flat. Feeds on both insects and plant buds. Introduced from Europe. (photo © Philipp Wickey)

Lace Bugs (Tingidae)

These small bugs get their name from the lace-like pattern of veins on their forewings. They are leaf eaters, most often sucking sap from the underside of leaves on trees or shrubs. Some species are quite similar to each other and noting what type of tree/plant they are eating is a major part of identification.

Azalea Lace Bug Stephanitis pyrioides columbia county northwest oregon
Azalea Lace Bug (Stephanitis pyrioides) – 0.1-0.15″. Translucent cream with characteristic broad dark line down body that extends horizontally in two places. Found on azaleas. Introduced from Japan. (photo © David Anderson)

Chrysanthemum Lace Bug Corythucha marmorata columbia county northwest oregon
Chrysanthemum Lace Bug (Corythucha marmorata) – 0.1-0.15″. Opaque white with vague, ill-defined tan spots all over. Found on flowers including goldenrod, daisy, ragweed, sunflowers, thistles, and chrysanthemums. (photo © molanic)
Oak Lace Bug (Corythucha arcuata) – 0.1-0.15″. Opaque white with dark thorax, double pairs of dark spots in middle, sometimes inverse V towards rear. Primarily on oak, though also maple, apple, chestnut, and roses. (photo © mihajlo)
Moss Bugs Acalypta sp. columbia county northwest oregon
Moss Bugs (Acalypta sp.) – 0.1″. These tiny oval-shaped bugs tend to be plain dark in color, but have the same lace-structure to their wings. Found on moss. (photo © Tobi)

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