Yesterday I noticed the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Asclepiadaceae) were flowering here in a southeast Michigan floodplain forest, so I took a closer look. There was a lot of insect activity on these plants, and one thing that caught my attention was the large number of mating pairs of jagged ambush bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Phymata sp.).
As the name implies these insects ambush their insect prey, usually while hiding among flowers. This is the same strategy used by flower crab spiders. They sit near flowers, well-camouflaged, and when pollinators approach they jump them.
The red-and-green coloration of these ambush bugs seemed to provide good camouflage among the milkweed blossoms. Last August I found some other ambush bugs (probably a different species) preying on insects while hiding in goldenrod. Those insects were yellow and black, which was perfect camouflage for hiding in goldenrod. The individuals shown here seemed to be temporarily more interested in reproduction than feeding, however. I didn’t notice any with prey.