Black Damsel Bugs: Sneaky & Predacious

Black Damsel Bugs ~ Nabicula subcoleoptera
I was looking for Monarch caterpillars this weekend on common milkweed when I spotted this Black Damsel Bug. A first sighting for me, it was in some low grass near the milkweed.

This shiny black bug with a yellow edged body and enlarged forelegs had in its grasp a Milkweed Bug.

As with all insects in the Bug order Hemiptera, they have long mouthparts (proboscis) for piercing and sucking. The Milkweed Bug uses theirs primarily to suck plant juices, but many bugs are predators and use these mouthparts to kill their prey.

This Black Damsel Bug had its proboscis inserted just below the Milkweed Bug's head and was using its oversized forelegs to grasp the prey and keep it in place.

"This shiny short-winged, native bug occurs in meadows across the country, where it is said to feed mostly on a common introduced bug, the Meadow Plant Bug (family Miridae)." (Insects, Their Natural History and Diversity)

Many predatory bugs are considered beneficial insects for agricultural crops, they seek out and kill crop damaging bugs and caterpillars.