Is this bug dangerous?
July 6, 2010
We found this bug on a sunflower this summer. We have other bugs shaped like it but they are black with a small amount of reddish orange on the tips of their wings or backs (they seem to be flightless). Since this one was colored in this very unusual way we were concerned it could possibly be dangerous, as many insects with these types of color schemes are.
Thanks for your help! Heather in Mesa
Mesa, Arizona (the Sonoran Desert)
The coloration of this Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin, Apiomerus flaviventris, could well be warning coloration as it will bite, and the bite can be painful. Usually, such warning coloration is used to ward off predators, and it is a topic to ponder when that warning coloration is sported by a predatory species, like the Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin, since it might also warn prospective prey. According the the genus information page on BugGuide: “It pounces on Honey Bees and other pollinating insects. It holds the captive in its powerful legs, thrusts its cutting beak into the victim’s back, injects an immobilizing digestive agent, then sucks out the body juices.“