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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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