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What is this?

It is a true bug because it has a triangle shape in the middle of its back. Let's take a closer look.

It also has enlarged front legs for grasping prey. This is an ambush bug, Subfamily Phymatinae.

Check out those orange eyes.

Ambush bugs sit on flowers and wait for other insects or spiders to come by. When the unsuspecting prey gets too close, ambush bugs grab it with their front legs. They are a lot like praying mantids.

We've never featured ambush bugs for Bug of the Week before because they don't live in this part of Arizona. The photographs are from western New York.

If you have a minute, this video shows an ambush bug in action (Note:  Video is set to music). You can see the antennae have wider segments at the end, called a club. That is a characteristic of the group. You can also see the wings are part leathery and part membranous like all true bugs.

Did you see its short beak? True bugs have sucking mouthparts.

The ambush bug looks so clumsy and clunky, but it can strike fast.

Have you ever seen an ambush bug?

During a recent trip to western New York State, I tried once again to capture a photograph of a Japanese beetle.

It should be easy, right? After all, the adult beetles are common, numerous and large.

Yet, the photographs always seem to turn out blurry. What is going on?

While trying to capture this one, I got a clue. (By the way, notice the cool antennae?)

As I followed it down the leaf, it stuck its hind leg out. That's the blurry thing coming out of the abdominal area.

Japanese beetles react to potential predators (and photographers) by sticking their hind legs out.

How weird is that?

Guess these bugs have found a way to ward off paparazzi with a "keep your distance" pose.

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During a recent trip, my nephew pointed out a classic funnel web a spider had built in a bush. Funnel webs consist of flat sheets of webbing with a round tunnel that serves as a retreat.

A few hours later, he pointed out the spider.

 

Funnel web spiders look a lot like wolf spiders, but they have a different eye pattern (see BugGuide)

You can see a better photo of the web structure at Wikimedia.

If you are interested in spiders, I've read some great books lately. I found two new fiction children's picture books feature spiders as characters (reviewed at Wrapped in Foil) and also an adult nonfiction book, Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles (reviewed at Wild About Ants.)

Have you seen any cool spiders lately?