Damsel Bugs are long, slender-legged insects. They are carnivorous, feeding on a range of insects with their four segmented rostrum. Both adults and their nymphs, will often be a familiar sight to many naturalists, but yet there has been little general interest in them over a number of years.
However, invertebrate surveys undertaken at several Sherwood Forest sites, do give us some indication of their true Nottinghamshire distribution, even though this is far from being complete or accurate.
Known Nottinghamshire species
The UK currently has 12 known species of Damsel Bug (Nabidae), ten of which are known to occur in Nottinghamshire. Most species do have regularly used common names, which we have included here.
Species recorded from Nottinghamshire are: Himacerus boops, Grey Damsel Bug Himacerus major, Ant Damsel Bug Himacerus mirmicoides, Tree Damsel Bug Himacerus apterus, Field Damsel Bug Nabis ferus, Heath Damsel Bug Nabis ericetorum, Broad Damsel Bug Nabis flavomarginatus, Marsh Damsel Bug Nabis limbatus, Reed Damsel Bug Nabis lineatus and Common Damsel Bug Nabis rugosus.
Nabis brevis (RDB3) and Nabis pseudoferus (Nb) are both largely coastal species of southern parts of the UK. Neither of which are known from Nottinghamshire.
|Himacerus boops (Schiødte, 1870)|
species found in dry habitats such as heathland. It is
rare in Nottinghamshire, but we are aware of records for
Sherwood Heath in 2006 and Budby South Forest in 2011.
Identification: Length 6.5 - 7.0mm. A brachypterous Damsel Bug with large eyes There are three dark longitudinal stripes on the pronotum, which help to distinguish it from all other species, with the exception of Himacerus major.
|Grey Damsel Bug Himacerus major (A. Costa, 1842)|
being common in the UK, but seemingly not in
Nottinghamshire. It is a Damsel Bug of heathland and
other dry grassy sites.
The only records we can trace are both from the Sherwood Forest area (including Sherwood Heath SSSI in 2006) but we recently found this elusive species in set-aside at Market Warsop in October 2015.
Identification: Length 7.5mm - 9.0mm. Himacerus major is macropterus (fully-winged) and has distinctive part of the hind femur coloured black, a feature it shares with the previous species.
|Ant Damsel Bug Himacerus mirmicoides (O. Costa, 1834)|
species of the southern UK, usually found on low
vegetation. Young nymphs are amazingly ant like in
appearence, gradually becoming more typical Damsel Bug in
shape as they grow and are more commonly found than the
Identification: Length 7.0mm - 8.0mm. Not as large as Himacerus apterus, with the wings slightly longer and the antennae are shorter, although these can often be difficult to discern without a direct comparison.
|Tree Damsel Bug Himacerus apterus (Fabricius, 1798)|
found, this is the only Damsel Bug which is consistantly
found on trees or tall scrub. It's UK distribution shows
a distinct southerly bias, becoming more scarce further
north, but it appears to be common in a wide range of
habitats in Nottinghamshire. Regularly found as both
nymphs and adults, especially by beating the lower
branches of deciduous trees.
Identification: Length 8.0 - 11.0mm. This large species is almost always micropterous, with the wings reaching about half way down the length of the abdomen. Males are much slimmer than females.
|Field Damsel Bug Nabis ferus (Linnaeus, 1758)|
|The Field Damsel Bug is a common species of
grassy areas. It is best found by sweeping areas of long
grass, or carefully hand searching vegetation along field
Identification: Length 8.0mm - 8.5mm. Not as large or as obvious as some other species, the Field Damsel Bug is fully-winged, with the wings extending beyond the end of the abdomen. The densely hairy forewings help to separate Nabis ferus from fully-winged forms of N. rugosus and N. ericetorum.
|Heath Damsel Bug Nabis ericetorum (Scholtz, 1847)|
species and generally quite restricted in
Nottinghamshire. Often best looked for by sweeping areas
of grass and Heather, but be aware that several other
species (including Nabis rugosus, N.
boops and H. major) can also be found in
the same habitat.
Identification: Length 6.5mm - 7.0mm. It can be difficult to identify as other species can be very similar, but the brachypterous wings just about cover the abdomen and there is usually a reddish colouration to both adults and nymphs.
|Broad Damsel Bug Nabis flavomarginatus (Scholtz, 1847)|
|Despite being described as common over much
of the UK, this is not a Damsel Bug we have found too often. It
favours rough grassy areas, edges of fields and woodlands
Identification: Length 7.0mm - 9.0mm. N. flavomarginatus is a large and distinctive species, with short wings reaching to around half the length of the abdomen. The upper surface of the abdomen is densely covered in short golden hair, but this is not always obvious in the field.
|Marsh Damsel Bug Nabis limbatus (Dahlbom, 1851)|
quite common and probably found across much of the
county, although this is not a Damsel Bug we have found
with any kind of regularity. Typically a species of damp
grassland and wet meadows, best looked for by using a
Identification: Length 7.5mm - 9.0mm. This species is always micropterous, with the forewings being shorter than those of the more robustly built N. flavomarginatus, almost covering the third abdominal section.
|Common Damsel Bug Nabis rugosus (Linnaeus, 1758)|
Damsel Bug which is common in grassy areas and the edges
of woodland across much of Nottinghamshire. Easily found
by sweeping vegetation during the late Summer.
Identification: Length 6.5mm - 7.5mm. This species is usually brachypterous, with the wings virtually reaching the end of the abdomen. This helps identification to a large degree, but fully-winged forms do occur.
The following distribution maps are sourced from the records of the following list of individuals and organisations/survey results and are as accurate as can be (as of October 2016) with the records and data we have at our disposal. We have again refrained from using historical records listed in J.W. Carr's book 'The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire' in any of the maps, in order to keep the distribution consistant with current knowledge.
|Himacerus boops (Schiødte, 1870)||Himacerus major (A. Costa, 1842)|
|Himacerus mirmicoides (O. Costa, 1834)||Himacerus apterus (Fabricius, 1798)|
|Nabis ferus (Linnaeus, 1758)||Nabis ericetorum (Scholtz, 1847)|
|Nabis flavomarginatus (Scholtz, 1847)||Nabis limbatus (Dahlbom, 1851)|
|Nabis rugosus (Linnaeus, 1758)|