A few weeks ago the goldenrod (Solidago sp., Asteraceae) started to bloom here in southeast Michigan. Goldenrod is insect-pollinated not wind-pollinated, and therefore not an allergen as many people think. This is evidenced by the sheer number of insects these plants attract. I love these plants because they host so many interesting insects, both pollinators and the predators that feed on them.
While visiting nearby Waterloo State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan, I spent some time examining a few of the goldenrod plants I found. As is often the case, I found a number of jagged ambush bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Phymata sp.) hiding among the flowers.
These ambush predators sit in wait on particular plants until insect pollinators come close enough to capture. They use their raptorial front legs to grab their prey and hold it securely while they suck their juices (true bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts and don’t chew).