Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Nabidae - Damsel Bugs

damsel bug nymph or a wingless adult? - Hoplistoscelis pallescens damsel bug? - Nabis subcoleoptratus Nabis roseipennis - male Damsel Bug - Nabis Assassin bug - Metatropiphorus belfragii - female Mystery Bug - Nabis Damsel Bug - Nabis Nabis americoferus? - Nabis americoferus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Heteroptera (True Bugs)
Infraorder Cimicomorpha
Family Nabidae (Damsel Bugs)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
some workers treat this family in Cimicoidea
several taxa traditionally treated as separate genera (e.g. in(1)(2)(3)) have been recently demoted back to subgenera of Nabis(4)
Explanation of Names
Nabidae Costa 1853
40 spp. in 9 genera of 2 subfamilies in our area(4), ca. 400 spp. in >30 genera worldwide(5)
Overview of our faunaTaxa not yet in the guide are marked (*)
Family Nabidae
Subfamily Nabinae
Subfamily Prostemminae
Tribe Phorticini Phorticus
3-12 mm
slender, light to dark brown or black with 4-segmented beak; resemble assassin bugs due to the slightly enlarged (raptorial) front femora; a series of elongated cells around the front wing membrane; some species have reduced wings
key to MI spp. in(6)
worldwide and throughout NA
Common in eastern forests. Occurs in large numbers under decaying undergrowth. (7)
most common in warmer months but may be found at any time of year
soft-bodied insects
Life Cycle
adults overwinter in leaf litter; 1-5 generations per year, depending on location
Print References
Works Cited
1.How to Know the True Bugs
Slater, James A., and Baranowski, Richard M. 1978. Wm. C. Brown Company.
2.Catalog of the Heteroptera, or True Bugs of Canada and the Continental United States
Thomas J. Henry, Richard C. Froeschner. 1988. Brill Academic Publishers.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
4.Three new species, notes and new records of poorly known species, and an updated checklist for the North American Nabidae...
Kerzhner I.M., Henry T.J. 2008. Proc. Ent Soc. Wash. 110: 988–1011.
5.Australian Faunal Directory
6.A synopsis of the damsel bugs (Heteroptera: Nabidae) of Michigan
Swanson D.R. 2012. The Great Lakes Entomologist 45: 40-55.
7.Eastern Forest Insects
Whiteford L. Baker. 1972. U.S. Department of Agriculture · Forest Service.
8.A monographic study of the hemipterous family Nabidae as it occurs in North America
Harris, H.M. 1928. Entomologica Americana, 9: 1-97.