Damsel Bugs

(Family name Nabidae)

Damsel Bugs:

These slender, tan-colored bugs resemble small, smooth-looking assassin bugs or other plant bugs that feed on crops.

This small family of generalist predators is commonly found in many crop and garden situations.

Some other species of Damsels are black, but these are less common in agriculture.

These bugs feed on many types of insects.

They are predators of aphids, moth eggs, and small caterpillars, including corn earworm, European corn borer, imported cabbageworm and some armyworms.

damsel bug

Other prey may include leafhoppers (including beet and potato leafhoppers), small sawfly larvae, mites, tarnished plant bug nymphs.

Asparagus beetle and Colorado potato beetle eggs and nymphs are on the menu as well.

However, these bugs also feeds on other predators, like assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, and big-eyed bugs.

In fact, all of these predators feed on one another, a phenomenon called "intraguild predation" by scientists.

If no other prey is available they will turn to cannibalism.

This beneficial bug is more commonly found in field crops such as alfalfa and soybean than in row crops or orchards.

Grassy fields tend to have more bugs than do broadleaf weed or weed-free fields.

these beneficial insects are also commonly found in home gardens, where they prefer to take shelter in low growing grasses and ground covers.

Maintaining such environments will encourage these predators.

Although the impact of this bug in vegetable crops is not known just yet.


After mating, eggs are deposited in soft plant tissues where they are so difficult to find.

Nymphs resemble adults and develop through 5 nymphal stages in about 50 days.

Adults are tiny, about 2-4 mm long, with slender bodies and tan, yellowish or gray or reddish-brown in color.

Damsel Bug Nymph

They have piercing-sucking mouthparts, much like assassin bugs.

A 4-segmented beak, elongated heads, and 4 long segmented antennae.

Damsels can fly, but seem to prefer to run as they are fast runners (in the bug world) with long slender back legs and enlarged forelegs for grasping prey.

They are commonly found in most agricultural crops, especially legumes, throughout the year.

Adults begin laying eggs soon after emergence.


No concerns.

They prefer to live in soybeans, grassy fields, and alfalfa.

You can collect some of these bugs in alfalfa fields and release them around your garden.

Damsel Bug

Fun Facts:

Damsel bugs may not seem like a good name for a predatory insect.

Damsels are so-called because they hold their front legs up, almost as though they were lifting a skirt hem for a spin around the dance floor.

Although many bugs resemble the ones shown on this page, some closely resemble ants.

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