I need info on Vesbius pupureus, is it harmful?
Dear Bugman,
Hi, I wrote to you several times before about this red bug (Vesbius purpureus) I found crawling in my room. I still can’t find any information about it on the net. Last night I spotted this guy crawling near a crack (where it lives). It had babies a couple of weeks ago and they scooted back into the crack whenever they saw me coming. I live in a wooded area and there are ants in my room. A few week ago, red ants invaded my room and I saw the bug family happily sitting by an ant trail, sticking out their long proboscis (freaking me out) and impaling and sucking ants. Do these bugs drink human blood? I’m grateful to them for ending my ant problem but seeing them eat is scary!! Where do they get their red coloring from? Do they actually have a "family unit"? Thank you!!

Where in the world are you???

Dear Daniel,
I’m from the philippines! Thanks very much!

Hi Martin,
First we want to apologize for not responding to your previous requests, but it is actually a physical impossibility for us to respond to every letter. Second, we are very curious how you got a scientific name without any additional information. It is also noteworthy that you neglected to include a letter “r” in the species name of Vesbius purpupeus. Your insect is most definitely an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and the feeding habits support that. We did a google search of “Reduviidae”, “Philippines” and “Vesbius” but the only thing we could locate was a stamp issued in 1988. We also located a mention of the genus Vesbius in an Integrated Pest Management report that discussed it as a possible biological control for potential insect pests. We then found a website on the biodiversity of Indian Assassin Bugs, which indicates the genus Vesbius is in the subfamily Harpactorinae. Most relevent to your questions, perhaps, was a site that discussed Hemipterans that prey on insects that infest stored products, and this list included Vesbius purpureus. We found more images here. There were many Chinese websites that mention Vesbius purpureus. Assassin Bugs do have piercing mouth parts that they use on prey, and they will bite people if provoked, but few species actually feed off human blood. The Cone-Nosed Bugs in the genus Triatoma are an exception. The communal behavior you describe is not something normally associated with Assassin Bugs, though we just posted an image of a pack of Australian Assassin bugs attacking a Millipede, so communal behavior is a possibility. In closing, we do not believe your Assassin Bugs pose a threat to you, and if they are eating ants, we say “Let them be.”

Dear Daniel,
I knew the scientific name from my gradeschool stamp club. I had the stamp with the insect on it. Yes, I will leave them be. I have NO ants left in my room and sadly, I have not seen any of these cute little bugs. Thanks,

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6 Responses to Assassin Bug from the Philippines

  1. drswanny says:

    The habitus, particularly the eyes near the front of the head, does instantly suggest Vesbius, and I have no real reason to doubt the species ID since it is probably a comparatively common species in the region.

  2. Nazario says:

    Hi have found this also in our house near ant trails. interesting! it looks like DEADPOOL 🙂

  3. Jet63 says:

    Are these philippine assassin bugs dangerous because i’m scared. I just researched about the diseases they carry and i’m afraid of it. Please respond quickly because i’m terrified to death right now.

  4. Brandon Thorpe says:

    I’ve been studying the communal habits of Harpactorinae assassins in Kentucky (USA) I’ve seen evidence of them living together and even sharing meals at immature stages into 4th and 5th instar. Zelus longipes, Arilus cristatus only seem to do this in immature stages in the wild, however they seem to thrive in controlled conditions in groups throughout their entire life cycle.(I’m raising a 2nd captive bread generation of both right now, documenting the life cycle.) Pselliopus barberi, Pselliopus cinctus are solitary as nymphs, but will gather as adults to hibernate behind pine bark during the winter, they also mate in big clusters which I have observed once and too can be kept communally at around 3rd instar. Sinea diadema is one of the few I’ve observed who have to be kept individually. That’s just Harpactorinae, it seems like Reduviinae are even more tolerant of communal living, seen some others in an Assassin bug group on facebook posting pictures of groups of corsairs together under the same bark, then of course the Platymeris. sp. I’ve not been able to find any information online explaining this behaviour, I’ve tried asking the EKU Entomology department, but they couldn’t find anymore than I could. I’d love to know more about their social behaviour. I understand in China assassins from the genus sycanus are found together throughout different life stages. It must be far more common than people realize. Same is true of Ambush bugs, communal in captivity, mate in large groups in the wild. If anyone knows of any research info documenting some of these things, I’d love to see it. I have so many questions, haha.

  5. Anne says:

    Hi there are lots of red orange insects with two black dots on their flat abdomen with feelers and the colony are sucking our kalamansi fruits. I wonder what are they.

    • Rick says:

      Those sound like Orange Okra bugs. Google that and I’m sure you’ll find images that look like the bugs you describe, especially the two black spots on their back.

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