Subject: Is this an assassin bug?
Location: Big Bend of Texas, Chihuahuan Desert
July 27, 2014 6:08 am
Thanks for all you folks do! I’m hoping you can help me identify what bug has been invading my house for the past couple weeks. We live in the Chihuahuan Desert, on the southwest edge of Texas. We have lots of interesting bugs, including the kissing bug called the conenose which can carry the parasite T. cruzi (causes Chagas disease).
The small bug that has been “blooming” lately resembles the conenose, but the body shape isn’t quite right and the sides are solid red, instead of striped. I’m hoping you will be able to identify this bug — and I’m also hoping it isn’t an assassin bug! We have been sweeping them up and tossing them outside daily, but it feels like bailing out the ocean!
The Red Shouldered Bug, Jadera haematoloma, is a Scentless Plant Bug in the family Rhopalidae, not an Assassin Bug, so you do not have to worry about bites. Though they are benign, they do have the habit of entering homes, sometimes in great numbers. According to BugGuide, they are also called Goldenrain Tree Bugs, and perhaps you have a tree in your garden that is attracting them. BugGuide states: “Adults and larvae tend to feed in groups, and favor developing seeds and fruits of their favored hosts, but will also suck sap from foliage, flowers, buds, or oozing stems. They feed on a variety of plants primarily in and related to the family Sapindaceae. Favorites include Balloonvine (Cardiospermum species) and Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria sp.), both in Sapindaceae, and they regularly use Soapberry (Sapindus sp.; Sapindaceae) and Maple/Boxelder (Acer sp.; Aceraceae). Additionally, reported on a variety of other plants, especially feeding on fruit, including Chinaberry (Melia azedarach; Meliaceae), Fig (Ficus spp.; Moraceae), Althaea (Malvaceae), Plum, Cherry, & Peach (Prunus sp.; Rosaceae), Apple (Malus sp.; Rosaceae), Grape (Vitis sp.; Vitaceae), Ash (Fraxinus sp.; Oleaceae), etc. Adults sometimes gather around human food leftovers and other smashed insects to feed as well.”