While many of us refer to all insects as “bugs,” to entomologists only a select group are “true bugs.” True bugs suck out fluids from their food sources—whether insects, vertebrates or plants—using piercing, straw-like mouthparts. Small and quite delicate, plant bugs like this one make up the largest family, Miridae, within the true bug group.

With a small, patchy distribution in the western U.S. and Canada, thick-horned plant bugs feed only on wild currant shrubs. Researchers have found that a majority of plant bugs, including this one, rely on just one or two host plants. For these specialists, climate change poses particular threats. If higher temperatures or changing precipitation patterns push the insect’s favored plants farther north, or the plants otherwise decline, these insects will also decline. Small population sizes also put the species at risk.

Thick-horned plant bug
Pronotocrepis clavicornis
About 0.25 inches (5–6 mm)
Imperiled (natureserve)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_PBI 00058377 and AMNH_PBI 00058442
California, U.S.