Assassin Bug Life Cycle

In this article, we look at the Assassin bug life cycle, where these bugs live, and where they come from

Assassin Bugs, as the name suggests, are interesting species that stab their prey before consuming it. 

They’re voracious insect predators that can help keep your garden free from pests.

Pests Destroying Your Garden? Learn the secrets to eliminating pests in your yard or garden in the most earth friendly way possible.

Found in many shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to recognize them due to the wide variety of body shapes they come in. 

As nymphs, too, they are very visually similar to those other insects. 

The only difference is that these bugs can deliver a nasty bite if disturbed. Let’s dive more into this species. 

Assassin Bug Life Cycle
Immature Zelus Assassin Bug

What Are Assassin Bugs? 

Assassin bugs are “true” bugs belonging to the family of Reduviidae that prey on other, smaller bugs.

Containing a wide variety of species, the names of these bugs come from the type of method they use to assassinate or kill their prey. 

North America alone is home to over 150 of these. 

Some common types of assassin bugs are the ambush bug or the wheel bug. 

The various species have distinct bodies, but all of them have narrow heads and curved proboscis, which they use to stab their prey, inject a toxin and finally paralyze them. 

Pests Destroying Your Garden? Learn the secrets to eliminating pests in your yard or garden in the most earth friendly way possible.

Some species of assassin bugs are known to be carriers of diseases such as Chagas disease, which can be transmitted to humans and other animals through their bites.

It’s worth noting, however, that while they feed on insect pests.

Therefore, they are an overall beneficial species; they are not considered important biological pests like some other species (the minute pirate bugs, for example). 

They are general feeders and will also eat bees, which could help pollinate your garden. 

Assassin Bug

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Types of Assassin Bugs

Some common types of assassin bugs are:

Ambush bugs 

As the name signifies, these assassin bugs kill their prey by lying in wait for an unsuspecting insect to get too close. 

They have stout, chunky bodies with well-defined, large forelegs that are hooked in front.

They can vary in color from green to yellow, tan, dark brown, and sometimes patchy (like the Spined assassin bug). 

This helps them effectively blend in with the flowers and stems on which they lie in wait. North America boasts around 30 species of ambush bugs. 

Wheel Bugs

This is the most common species of assassin bug, comprising around 150 species in the family. 

Their name comes from a spiky wheel or cog-like structure that is present on top of the insect’s thorax. 

Wheel bugs are grey in color and feed on bees, caterpillars, aphids, and other insects. 

Milkweed Assassin Bug

Kissing bugs

Kissing bugs are one insect you should stay away from! This species feeds on the blood of mammals, including humans and pets. 

They mostly bite people in and around their mouths, giving them their names.

While the bite is not painful, it can transmit parasites such as Trypanosoma cruzi, which cause Chagas disease.

Where Do They Live?

Assassin bugs are primarily tropical insects, but due to global warming, their habitat area has expanded to include some previously colder regions as well.

They are currently found in North and South America, all the way from Canada to parts of Latin America. 

While no species have been found in Europe, favorable conditions do exist, and many people have suffered from diseases typically carried by the kissing bug. 

They are generally found in vegetative areas. Some species of assassin bugs live in the soil. 

Others can be found on plants, under bark, or in crevices in rocks. They can occasionally crawl indoors as well or in other farm structures like chicken coops. 

What Do They Eat? 

Assassin bugs feed on either of the two: either they are predators of invertebrates, or they are parasites of vertebrates.

Under the former, we have assassin bugs that eat caterpillars, soft-bodied insects, insect eggs, bees, thrips, aphids, and sometimes even lizards!

Under the latter, we have kissing bugs that feed exclusively on blood. 

Common Assassin Bug

Assassin Bug Lifecycle 

Assassin bugs are true bugs and hence go through 3 stages in their life. These are:

The egg stage

Female assassin bugs lay eggs on leaves, stems, or in soil crevices. The eggs hatch into wingless nymphs. 

The nymph stage

The nymph stage goes through 5 instars. As an instar, the insect is still immature. 

Nymphs will resemble the adults, but be smaller in size and, with each molt, develop more adult organs and features.

The adult stage

After the immature stages of wingless nymphs, the final molt results in a fully-frown adult assassin bug with dual wings. 

There is no pupal stage. 

Usually, they go through one or two generations in a year. For adults, overwintering depends on the species. 

The Zelus regarding, for example, will go into overwintering as an adult. The Sinea diadema can overwinter in the egg stage. 

Assassin Bug nymph

Can Assassin Bugs Fly? 

Some species of assassin bugs, such as the ambush bugs, possess dual wings and can fly. 

However, they are poor fliers and generally do not engage in flight.

They rely on swift movement and their bite as defense mechanisms. Most adult assassin bugs will not fly and, instead, walk rapidly if disturbed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does assassin bugs live for?

Assassin bugs typically live for between one and three years, depending on their environment.
They reach adult size after about six months and will spend the rest of their lives searching for prey.
In captivity, they can live up to three years if cared for properly.
Generally speaking, assassin bugs in the wild don’t survive as long due to predators, lack of food sources, and other more hostile elements that reduce their lifespan significantly.

Where do assassin bugs lay eggs?

Assassin bugs lay eggs in the soil or in other plants and debris.
Usually, the female assassin bug will deposit her eggs on the leaves or stems of nearby plants.
Some species of assassin bugs are known to hide their eggs at the base of thorns.
It is believed that predators like birds struggle when they try to reach these areas and look for an easier food source, protecting the assassin bug eggs from becoming a snack.

How fast do assassin bugs grow?

Assassin bugs grow very quickly, reaching full adulthood in only two weeks after hatching. The lifespan of an assassin bug is very short, usually lasting just a few months.
During this time frame, their growth rate is accelerated, and they can reach up to 15mm in length.
They feed both on invertebrate prey and also on nectar from flowers. As they grow, assassin bugs molt their exoskeleton several times during each stage of development.

What kills assassin bugs?

Several animals, including spiders, birds, praying mantises, rodents, smaller mammals, lizards, frogs, and snakes, feed on assassin bugs.
However, assassin bugs are a diverse group, with over 7,000 known species and 120 found in North America. So there are no single predators that can be pointed out.
Generally, these insects range from 0.2 to 1.2 inches long, meaning they will struggle against larger predators such as birds and mammals.

Wrap Up

While they are beneficial insects in the garden, an assassin bug adult can deliver painful bites if mishandled. 

And their bites can be quite painful (unless it’s the kissing bug) and even cause allergic reactions! 

You can easily distinguish these insects from others (such as the Leaf-footed bugs) through their elongated head and sharp beaks. 

In their earlier stages, some might even be brightly colored to warn predators of their toxicity.

Thank you for reading. 

Reader Emails

Given the vast variety of assassin bugs in the world, we have received several inquiries about these insects.

One of the most frequent questions is regarding their lifecycle and what they look like in their larval or nymph stages.

Please go through some of the exchanges we have had with readers over the years.

Letter 1 – Plague of less than Biblical Proportions: Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Help us
We are being plagued by this bug. This is the third one I’ve seen and I’d like to know what it is. Thanks in advance,
Brandon

Hi Brandon,
We are used to exageration. Many times people imagine that insects are much bigger than they really are. We are definitely amused that three of anything is considered a plague. This is an immature Assassin Bug, a beneficial insect in the garden.

Letter 2 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

What is this thing?
FOund this after taking the photo of the flowers. A granddaddy long legs was a few inches from it. Have never seen one before. Whis the picture was better, but didn’t know it was there. I SAw it one other time on the fence and it was gone after I got the camera. Any info would be heplful. Thanks
Craig

Hi Craig,
You have sent in a photograph of an Assassin Bug nymph, probably an immature Wheel Bug, though it is difficult to be certain due to the angle. They are beneficial predators in the garden, but can bite painfully.

Letter 3 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Nasty Little Bug!
Dear What’s that Bug,
I don’t know what this little rascal is, but this afternoon I picked up my dog to bring her inside and all of a sudden I felt this incredible pain on my little finger. The pain was worse than a wasp sting or any fire ant bite I have ever had. Maybe I am just a wus, but damn it hurt. I have tried to find the bug all over the web but was not able to locate it. I have never seen one before. The pictures are not to good since I took the pain out on him/her. It has six legs with two tentacles. It has an almost transparent orange body. I think the stinger is in its tail, because when I flicked it off of the dog and on to the floor it poised itself like a scorpion. By the way I am from NW Florida area. If you could give me some insight as to what he heck this little booger is.
Thank you,
Jason

Hi Jason,
You were bitten by an Assassin Bug nymph, and though the bite is nasty, they are beneficial to gardeners because of the vast numbers of pests they kill.

Letter 4 – Leaf Footed Bug Nymph

 

Found these guys, 4 of them, crawling around on top of my trash can. Haven’t seen ‘em before. 6 legs, orange, spotted on the back, no pincers, long thin “tail” or stinger. Very aggressive.
Ideas?
Thanks
Ben in Austin

Hi Ben,
We got a second opinion from Eric before writing back to you. He agrees that it is probably an Assassin Nymph. He writes: “Sure. Reminds me of a Zelus sp. of assassin, but photo is not detailed enough to rule out coreids, which would be my other guess:-)”

Correction:  April 27, 2013
Thanks to a comment from Dan, we now know that this is more likely a Leaf Footed Bug nymph.

Letter 5 – Blurry Assassin Bug, probably a Wheel Bug Nymph

 

I was out pulling weeds in the garden and something stung me or bit me and this is what we found any Ideals as to what it is? Conserned for my grandchildren is it dangerous?
Mary Thank for your time.



Hi Mary,
It is a species of Assassin Bug, but I can’t tell which because of the poor focus. They give a painful bite, but are actually harmless. They are good in the garden because they will eat other insects that damage plants. Just learn to treat them with respect and you won’t be bitten again. Teach your grandchildren not to handle them and they won’t be bitten, but again, they are harmless.

Letter 6 – Wheel Bug Nymphs

 

Help with identifying these bugs would be appreciated. They are on a neighbor’s pecan tree. I’ve looked at web sites that discuss pecan pests and nothing looked like this. In the first email I forgot to state that we are in the Dallas/Ft.Worth Texas area.

Dear Ft. Worth,
We checked with out resident expert at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, and he agreed that you have Assassin Bug Nymphs, newly hatched. You are not finding them on the pecan pest site because they are not pests. They are predators who will help rid the trees of aphids and other destructive insects. They are beneficial, though when they are grown, they can inflict a painful bite to humans if carelessly handled.

Daniel,
A million thanks for the quick response. You are providing a wonderful service with a great web site. Keep up the fantastic work!
Richard L Parker

Letter 7 – Zelus Assassin Bug Nymph

 

This may help
Dear Bugman,
I sent an e-mail yesterday asking for a bug identification. I noticed on your site today that you posted a picture from Stephanie from Austin, Tx. The picutre was kinda blurry but the bugs looked a lot like the pic I took. I will send it again for you and hope this clears it up for Stephanie and myself. Thanks,
Brent

Hi Brent,
Before we contacted Eric Eaton, we suspected Stephanie’s creatures might be Zelus Assassin Bug hatchlings. Eric dispelled that suspicion by pointing out that Assassin Bugs do not lay eggs in rows. Eric believes the hatchlings are Coreid Bugs. Your photo is of a Zelus Assassin nymph, the original suspicion we had about Stephanie’s hatchlings. Your specimen is Zelus longipes, the Milkweed Assassin Bug.

Letter 8 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

beautiful assassin bug
Hi Bugman,
Here are some pics of a nymph assassin bug. I kept it for a few days feeding it stink bugs and small caterpillars. These are very interesting to observe.
Thanks,
Rachel

Hi Rachel,
Thank you for sending in your excellent photo of an immature Assassin Bug. We believe it is the Milkweed Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus.

Letter 9 – Zelus Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Assassin?
This bug was on a Camillia in my back yard now his image is my desktop image. Is this shy little guy an Assassin Bug? I can’t see a stinger.

This is an immature Assassin Bug Nymph in the genus Zelus. It doesn’t have a stinger, but it does have a piercing mouthpart.

Letter 10 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

What’s This Bug?
~HarrysAllOut

Hi HarrysAllOut,
We must say we are curious what you are out about. We are also glad that all of our contributors aren’t as thrifty with words as you are of we would not have much of a site. This is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph.

Letter 11 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

creepy little red bug
Hey Bugman-
What is this thing called? I think it’s an assassin bug nymph, but I’m not sure what kind. They love my herb garden, and I’ve read that they are beneficial. I’ve been on the receiving end of that nasty proboscis, but if they eat aphids, I guess they can stay! Thought you might like this picture- you can zoom in even closer if you want to- then he looks really creepy!! Love your website!
Samantha
San Antonio, Texas

Hi Samantha,
After attempting to open your photo file five times, we succeeded. This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. It is probably Zelus longipes, the Milkweed Assassin Bug, that is common in Texas. While Assassin Bugs are beneficial predators in the garden, they will deliver a nasty bite to the unwary.

Letter 12 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Northern Lower Peninsula Michigan 11/15/2008 Friendly Bug
Sat, Nov 15, 2008 at 2:19 PM
Hi, Love the site! This curious (seemingly) friendly little fellow is the second one I have found in my house in the past week (Nov. 8-15). The first one was all green and they were both found around my computer. The first one I took outside but the weather cooled down and I couldn’t leave this one outside (he stood motionless in the same spot for an hour), so I brought him back in and I have been keeping him in a jar…he doesn’t seem to mind too much. The first photo is a side view and I included a dime in the picture for comparison. The second photo is a top view . I’d just like to know what he is so I can get him some food for the winter before it snows…I’ll let him go in the spring. He is rather interesting to watch. Keep up the great work!
Thank you! Kim
northern lower peninsula (Lewiston) of Michigan…purtineer the tip of the mitten :o)

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Kim,
This looks like an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus to us.

Letter 13 – Milkweed Assassin Bug: nymph and adult

 

Orange Bug
Sun, May 10, 2009 at 8:34 AMMany immature and adults seen on podocarpus in central Florida. This shrub has had a problem with aphids. The adults flew readily when approached. The immature just crawled around. Adults are about 3/4 inch long.
Eric
Central Florida

Milkweed Assassin Bug
Milkweed Assassin Bug

Hi Eric,
This is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug and it is a beneficial predator. The fact that the podocarpus has Aphids is a good indication that the Milkweed Assassin Bugs are feeding on the Aphids. Adult Milkweed Assassin Bugs have wings.  We are very happy to have images of both immature and adult Milkweed Assassin Bugs to post with your letter.  Handle Milkweed Assassin Bugs with care as they are capable of biting and will do so if mishandled.

Milkweed Assassin Bug
Milkweed Assassin Bug

Letter 14 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Tiny, spiky bug
July 30, 2009
This little guy came inside with some flowers and I almost missed him as he was crawling around on my furniture. He was truly minute; my camera didn’t even pick up on him so the picture quality is bad. As a size reference, he literally had to climb up onto the white placemat in the picture. You’ll be happy to know I took his picture and then carefully carried him back outside on a leaf and put him back on the flowers.
As cute as he was, he probably would have been pretty scary looking if he had been bigger. You can see he is covered in spikes and he had a pretty severe proboscis. I don’t even know where to start looking as far as how to identify him. Thank you for you help.
Lisa
East Central Missouri

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Lisa,
This is an immature nymph of one of the spiny Assassin Bugs in the genus Sinea that is well represented on BugGuide.  It sounds like you are a gardener, so you will be happy to know that Assassin Bugs are important predators, but they must be handled with caution as they will bite and certain species are reported to have very painful bites.

Letter 15 – Milkweed Assassin Bug: Adult and Nymph

 

Predatory Orange Bug
November 1, 2009
These bugs are everywhere in my butterfly garden! They rapidly consume the caterpillars, and the favorite food seems to be the Cloudless Sulphur cats. Getting these photos was difficult as they kept flying away, but I finally got a few….
Any ideas on what these might be?
Thanks so much!
Houston, TX

Milkweed Assassin Bug
Milkweed Assassin Bug

Because of its resemblance to the Milkweed Bug, your insect, Zelus longipes, is known as a Milkweed Assassin Bug, though it is not typically associated with Milkweed.  Both wingless nymphs and winged adults feed on soft bodied insects like caterpillars, and they are generally thought of as beneficial in the garden where they feed on armyworms and cucumber beetle larvae.  If carelessly handled, Milkweed Assassin Bugs might bite and the bite is reported to be painful.

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph
Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

Thanks so much! I really appreciate yall’s site. The Unnecessary
Carnage page was definitely my favorite – please ignore the Nasty
Readers 🙂

Letter 16 – Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Brown bug beachside
November 20, 2009
I took this at a beachside campground in the South Carolina LowCountry. He was not quite a half inch long.He was very content and did not mind my presence.Could you tell me what it is?
macroguru62
South Carolina LowCountry

Immature spiny Assassin Bug
Immature spiny Assassin Bug

Dear macroguru62,
This is a spiny Assassin Bug nymph in the genus Sinea.  BugGuide has many images of this genus.  Your photo is wonderful.

Letter 17 – Assassin Bug: Nymph and Adult

 

Mantid? Stick insect?
April 19, 2010
Hello again,
I’m sorry to send these in again, but this guy continues to puzzle me with his strange shape and patterning. The closest thing I found to it was a juvenile walkingstick, but I’ve never seen an adult walkingstick anywhere around my house, and I’ve seen more than a few of these. One of them (not this one) waved his front legs at me (like a mantis?) when I bothered him trying to get a picture a few years ago.
Stephen C
North Carolina

Assassin Bug Nymph

Assassin Bug Nymph

Thank you very much!  I would never have guessed that!  Funnily enough, just a moment ago I saw him (or one like him), apparently advanced to a later state of growth, looking much more like an assassin bug with wings and coloring and whatnot.  Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t right for a good shot, but I did get a few pics.  A very handsome insect.

Assassin Bug

Hi again Stephen,
Our original answer to you was quite brief because we feebly attempt to answer as many letters as possible, and some just get names as responses.  Since you took the time to send a followup report, we have pieced together your emails and posted what we believe to be Zelus Assassin Bugs.

Letter 18 – Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Varigated Vampire-Lobster-Ant?
Location:  Thomson, GA, USA
August 2, 2010 10:22 am
I like that name until you provide a more accurate one. This image was captured July 31, 2010 in my wife’s garden in Thomson, GA. The plant is a Black & Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica) and the insect is perhaps a centimeter long, minus antennae.
Cliff in Thomson

Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Cliff,
One of the ways we select letters to post is if they have an interesting subject line.  You had us going from the second word.  When we get a colorful description with a pop culture tone to it, we immediately try to guess what insect the person is trying to describe.  We have a decent track record in that arena, but your description had us totally stumped, but we were nonetheless intrigued.  Your insect is an immature Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, but at that point, our memory not being quite as keen as that of most people we know, we needed to turn to internet research.  We know where to research NOrth American insects and spiders.  That is BugGuide.  Your Assassin Bug is in the genus
Pselliopus, the Sycamore Assassin Bugs, which we quickly located on bugGuide,  but we are not comfortable identifying a nymph to the species level since they all look alike in this genus.

Thanks, folks.
I’m glad I was able to pique your interest.

Letter 19 – Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph

 

Assassin Bug Nymph?
Location: Georgia
January 31, 2011 8:55 pm
There are so many of these bugs all over the tree in my front yard that my child plays on all the time. She is the one who found the bugs and showed them to me. Of course I’m not letting her play on it now, but I sure would like to make sure it isn’t poisonous. Many Thanks! 🙂
Signature: M. McCoy

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear M. McCoy,
You are correct that this is an Assassin Bug.  It is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug,
Zelus longipes, and you can read more about the species on BugGuide.  Though they can bite if carelessly handled, and the bite is reported to be painful, the Milkweed Assassin Bug is not venomous and it poses no threat beyond the initial discomfort caused by the bite.  We generally refrain from giving parenting advice, however, we do tend to voice our opinion and we do not shy away from controversial topics from time to time.  It seems like a positive characteristic that your child thought to question you about the insects she found at one of her favorite play sites, and negative repercussions might occur if she is forbidden to play there again.  Why not just explain to her that if she is not careful, she might get bitten?  That way you can teach her to respect and appreciate the natural world that surrounds her without punishing her for coming to you with her curiosity.  There are much bigger threats out in the world than Assassin Bugs.

Letter 20 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Looks like a mantis
Location: Middle Georgia (the state, not the country;)
February 26, 2011 2:52 pm
My boys found this in the bathroom and think it’s a baby mantis. I’m not so sure. It doesn’t have the large head or ”praying hands.” I’m letting them keep it in a bug motel until we identify it. Help!
Signature: Tricia

Immature Assassin Bug

Hi Tricia,
This really looks to us like an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus.  Assassin Bugs are predators so your inclination that it resembles a Mantis has some bearing.  You can read more about Assassin Bugs on BugGuide and you can compare your individual to this image and this image also on BugGuide.

Letter 21 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Defies Identification
Location: Chico, CA
July 23, 2011 8:24 pm
Hello. I found this little guy in the yard on 22 July and was hoping you could identify it. At first I thought it was some kind of mantis, but I really haven’t a clue. I am no entomologist. A few details: it stood its ground when I moved in close with the camera, it tended to climb up the sides of the glass jar used to contain it, and it did not bite or sting me when I first caught it. Cheers.
Signature: Nate

Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Nate,
This is an Assassin Bug Nymph, and we think you may have been lucky not to have been bitten.  Assassin Bugs are predators, and there is one group, the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs, that feed on mammalian blood, including humans.  Most Assassin Bugs will not bite a human unless they are provoked, and handling one carelessly might result in a painful bite.  We aren’t certain what genus your Assassin Bug nymph belongs to.

Immature Assassin Bug

Letter 22 – Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Sharp looking fellow
Location: Auburn, NJ
August 2, 2011 11:47 am
Dear Bugman,
Saw this one in the rose bush, though much smaller than a single leaf. Guess he’s come to join the party with all the other bugs roses seem to attract? Good times!
Took awhile, but think I finally found him when I used spines for a search term on BugGuide.
Sinea spinipes. Or at least a close cousin. Would you agree?
Signature: Creek Keeper

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Creek Keeper,
We concur that this is either a Spiny Assassin Bug nymph or a closely related species in the genus
Sinea.  Your email reminded us that we saw an image from another request earlier this week, and we meant to post it, but time just got away from us.  Despite our best intentions, we are unable to respond to even a small fraction of the requests that come our way.

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Letter 23 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Orange W/Black Legs
Location: Houston, TX
August 3, 2011 11:42 am
Hello,
Love you site! Just am still unsure of what I am looking at, or able to properly identify it.
This picture is of a ’medium’ sized insect, about 3/4” long. I have seen them smaller and even one about 1 1/4 long.
This picture was taken on 3 August, 2011 in my pepper garden on a leaf of a Serrano Pepper plant.
Kindly assist in it’s proper identification.
Also, you can indeed keep the image. I give full rights to you to use it any way you want, if you want.
Best Regards,
Kevin
Signature: Kevin

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

immature milkweed assassin bug

Hello,
Thank you greatly Daniel Marlos!
Now I will explore the pros/cons of having them in the garden. There are not too many that I have seen. I am in the garden at least twice a day. I do not mess with them because they do not seem to want anything to do with me. If one is on a plant where I am about to cut a pepper, it just moves along and goes under a leaf, out of sight to be left alone. So that is what I do.
A couple of days ago, I was cutting a batch of peppers, putting them in my shorts pocket, cargo shorts, so large pockets, and when I got in the house and piled the peppers on the counter, out came a small one of these insects onto the counter. Apparently it hitched a ride on a pepper, in my pocket, for how long I do not know, at least 10-15 minutes, and was no worse for wear. I urged it onto a piece of paper and out the door it went. I am sure the story it tells it’s buds is just as bizarre as mine!
I am more careful not to put anymore insects in my pocket!
Have a Good One Daniel, and thanks again.
Kevin

Hi Kevin,
Your response to our extremely brief identification is so enthusiastic, and the anecdotal information has provided such a personal perspective on your interactions with the Milkweed Assassin Bugs in your yard that we are feeling guilty that we have shortchanged you with our original response.  You should take care not to handle the Milkweed Assassin Bugs,
Zelus longipes, because they are perfectly capable of delivering a painful bite.  We just located this Galveston County Master Gardeners “Beneficials in the Garden” web page devoted to the Milkweed Assassin Bug.  It has some very helpful information including this excerpt:  “Although most assassin bugs are slow-moving and non-aggressive, they will use their rostrum in self-defense if handled carelessly. Such bites may be rather painful to humans because the bugs inject the same salivary secretion used to dissolve the tissues of their prey. This results in the death of a small area of cells at the site of the bite. The symptoms are an intense burning sensation, often followed by a small, itchy lump that may persist for several days. However, no true toxin is involved so it is rare for the reaction to last long or to extend beyond the site of the bite. Some bites occur when the bugs are purposely handled out of curiosity, but most happen through accidental contact while gardening or working in the open. The sharp pain associated with assassin bug bites is usually enhanced by the surprise accompanying the experience.  The beneficial qualities of assassin bugs far outweigh their negative potential, and learning to get along with these indispensable predators is in our own best interest.”

Good Morning,
Indeed. Great information. As soon as I read your original email identifying the M.A.B., I located the exact site. Full of information for the varied species in our area. I read for hours and was fascinated with abundance of beneficial insects and lizards in this area.
We actually live on the outskirts of Houston/Harris County, and Galveston County. Near the Johnson Space Center, so the website was right on for what I needed.
Daniel, don’t feel guilty. Your response was just fine. You answered my question with great accuracy and it lead me on the proper path to explore the correct information and for this I thank you!
Also thank you for the follow up email. It is funny that you found the exact site! Fate can be a good thing at times!
While I am far from having the study of anEntomologist, I have always taught my children to respect nature and to study and be aware of their environment. We all share this planet together and indeed, knowledge is a good thing.
No need to be afraid of what we do not know!
Best Regards Daniel,
Kevin

Letter 24 – Green Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Strange lime green insect
Location: Portland, OR
September 29, 2011 3:21 pm
Hi there I live in Portland, OR and discovered this bug the other day in a friends back yard. I don’t know if you can tell but it is rather small, that is a mason jar behind it. There is also a proboscis(sp)thing that you cant really see form this picture. It is really pretty and I am curious what it is I have never seen anything like it.
Thanks -Eric
Signature: Eric

Green Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Eric,
You should handle this Assassin Bug nymph with caution as many members in the family will bite if provoked or carelessly handled.  We don’t recognize the species and we have the energy to research the species tonight.

Letter 25 – Assassin Bug Nymph found in bed

 

Whats this bug?
Location: Charleston (James Island), South Carolina
December 21, 2011 10:30 am
Saw this in my bed this morning and I have never seen it before. I just moved to Charleston,SC so maybe its something native? It had an oval slender red body with long legs? It kind of looked like a red ant with spider legs? Could you tell me what it is
Signature: Curious

Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Curious,
This is an Assassin Bug nymph, most likely the Milkweed Assassin Bug.  It is an outdoor predator that was probably accidentally trapped in the home.  Though Milkweed Assassin Bugs do not normally bite humans, they will bite, quite painfully, if carelessly handled.

Letter 26 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

NE Flordia Stumper
Location: Fleming Island, FL
February 6, 2012 7:27 am
I’ve lived in Florida (Insect Mecca) for many years…but this is a new one. I live in Fleming Island, FL about a mile west of the St. Johns River. I started noticing these on my two collies after they would play out back. I have a small fenced in yard that backs up to a field of an elementary school.
The insect has six legs, and very in size from 1/2” to 1” in body length.
The best I could guess was some sort of Wheel Bug Arilus cristatus Nymph.
Hopefully you can give some assistance.
Signature: Joe Summanen

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Joe,
You are on the right track, but not exactly correct.  This is the nymph of a Milkweed Assassin Bug,
Zelus longipes, and like the Wheel Bug, they are both in the Assassin Bug family.  Milkweed Assassin Bugs are important beneficial predators, but if they are carelessly handled, they can deliver a painful bite.

Thanks Daniel!
Unfortunately, I was bitten once. Ouch. That’s what caught my attention.
Much appreciated.
Joe

Letter 27 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Ragland, Alabama
October 18, 2012 1:19 pm
I have never seen anything like this before. I saw it at the post office the other day. He looked pretty mean so I just took a picture and left. It has been chilly outside but it was pretty warm when I found this guy.
Signature: Abbey F.

Rasahus Assassin Nymph

Dear Abbey,
We identified this gorgeous immature Assassin Bug as a
Rasahus nymph on BugGuide.

Letter 28 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Unknown bug
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
December 14, 2012 3:17 pm
I was in the shower and when soap had run to my ankle I felt a sharp sting. At first i thought it was a cut, then i looked down and saw the bug… Ive shown several science teachers and posted it elsewhere on the internet but no one seems to know what it is. Can you help me figure it out? Thanks!
Signature: -Erin C

Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Erin,
This is the immature nymph of an Assassin Bug in the genus
ZelusAssassin Bugs are predators with mouths designed to pierce and suck.  Most Assassin Bugs prey upon other insects, but a few species do prey upon warm blooded hosts, including humans.  Though this ZelusAssassin Bug did not get a meal from biting you, members of the genus frequently bite humans they accidentally encounter or if they are carelessly handled.  The effects of the bite will wear off and there will not be any lasting effects.

Bite of an Assassin Bug

 

Letter 29 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Found this bug on the top of the bed
Location: Atlanta,Ga
December 13, 2012 9:43 pm
Dear bugman
I found this red bug dead on the top of our bed.
We live in atlanta ga and it was 2 days ago, december 10th 2012
See photo attached
Thanks for your help
Peter and Christy
Signature: Peter

Assassin Bug nymph

Dear Peter and Christy,
This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus
Zelus and we just finished posting a photo from North Carolina that documents an unfortunate encounter with a Zelus Assassin Bug in the shower that resulted in a painful bite.  Though Zelus Assassin Bugs are not dangerous to humans, they can deliver a painful bite if carelessly handled or if they are accidentally encountered.  Many Assassin Bugs will bite humans, but Zelus Assassin Bugs seem especially prone to biting.

Letter 30 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: long red insect six black legs
Location: Texas
December 25, 2012 11:53 pm
Hi I found this in my dads backyard in sourlake Texas
Signature: thatlostdog

Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph

Dear thatlostdog,
This is a Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph, a beneficial predator that will help control the populations of plant eating insects in the yard and garden.

Letter 31 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Indoor Nuisance
Location: Woodstock, GA
December 4, 2013 2:03 pm
Dear Bugman,
My friend posted this picture of an insect on social media wanting to know what it was. She’s found three of them in her house recently. One bit her daughter, and it felt like a bee sting. I looked through your stinging bug collection of photos, and the only one that seemed close was a wheel bug nymph, but December seems an unlikely month for insect nymphs.
Signature: Jeni

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi Jeni,
We do not believe this is a Wheel Bug nymph, however, we do believe you have the Assassin Bug family correct.  In our opinion, this looks like a mangled Assassin Bug nymph from the genus
ZelusThey are reported to have a very painful bite, but they are beneficial predators.  There are probably more generations in the southern portion of the range, which would explain a nymph in the fall.

Letter 32 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: what is this bug? it has a nasty bite/sting
Location: Southern California
December 28, 2013 2:54 am
This bug was on edge of my glass when I went to take a drink and it did something to the edge of my lip that felt like I was stuck with a shard of glass. Still hurts about half hour later. While I’m in Southern California (USA), my glass is sitting right next to our Christmas tree so I suspect he could have been imported from areas growing Noble Pine trees.
Signature: B

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Hi B,
The best we are able to provide for you is a general family identification as there isn’t much detail in your photo.  This appears to be an immature Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and they are predators with mouths designed to pierce and suck fluids.  While there is a subfamily Triatominae with members known as Kissing Bugs that suck blood and are a known disease vector for humans, however, we can eliminate that subfamily because the shape is wrong.  Other Assassin Bugs prey on insects and arthropods, however, most are capable of biting humans as well if they are threatened or carelessly handled.  For some reason, we get a disproportionate number of accounts of Assassin Bugs in the genus
Zelus as well as Assassin Bugs in the subfamily Peirantinae, the Corsairs, that will bite humans unprovoked.  There is an immediate sharp pain associated with the bite, exactly as you describe, and the area may remain tender for several days, however, the bite is not considered serious.  We are sorry we are unable to provide anything more conclusive on this Assassin Bug nymph.  Your supposition that this Assassin Bug arrived with the Christmas tree is a strong possibility, however, living in Southern California, it might have been a local species as well.

Letter 33 – Australian Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: SE QLD Ant?
Location: South East Queensland, Australia
March 14, 2014 12:21 am
Hi, found this out the back of my house in South-East Queensland, Australia. What is it? It bit me, hurt like hell but no lump or swelling.
Signature: Ready

Immature Assassin Bug
Immature Assassin Bug

Dear Ready,
This Assassin Bug gets its common family name from its hunting habits.  Assassin Bugs creep up on their prey, often times stabbing them in the back with that formidable proboscis, and then suck them dry.  At this time, luckily humans don’t have such predators.  We believe your bite was the result of a chance encounter that found you on the receiving end of an unpleasant experience.  The bite will have no lasting ill effects.  The one genus of Assassin Bugs that are considered a health threat are the Kissing Bugs of the New World.  They suck human blood and spread Chagas Disease.  We will attempt to research your species at a later date.

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Letter 34 – Assassin Bug Nymph from Australia

 

Subject: Orange and Black “thing”
Location: South East Queensland, Australia
January 24, 2015 9:10 pm
Hi,
I’m Katie, I’m only 12 but I found this really strange looking insect on my trampoline. It’s like an ant, but like a spider. It has a bright orange abdomen and it’s thorax is black along with its head. It has 2 long antenna that are orange and its 6 legs are black and white striped. I’ve looked in my MANY bug books and google image searched it, nothing that looks like it. I hope you can help me.
Signature: Love Katie

Immature Assassin Bug
Immature Assassin Bug

Hi Katie,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, and based on images on the Brisbane Insect website, we have determined that it is the Common Assassin Bug,
Pristhesancus plagipennis.  Though it is not a dangerous species, Assassin Bugs are predators and you might get bitten if you attempt to handle them carelessly.  It is best to not handle Assassin Bugs to avoid getting bitten.

Letter 35 – Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Mantis-like thing?
Location: East Tennessee
June 28, 2015 1:48 am
Found this crawling on my computer screen today. I had a window open, but still, not sure how It got in the house. I thought he might be a Praying Mantis, but the eyes have me baffled. Anyone know what this is?
Whatever it is, it’s in my garden now. He looked like a predator, so I wanted to give him a chance to do what he was made for. 🙂
Signature: Kyrus

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph
Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Kyrus,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, and though they are not related to Mantids, they share the physical feature of raptoreal front legs.  We believe your nymph is a Spiny Assassin Bug in the genus
Sinea, and you can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.

Letter 36 – Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Never seen
Location: Norman Oklahoma
July 23, 2015 6:09 pm
We have seen these in our backyard where the kids play didn’t know if they were bad?
Signature: Lee whitten

Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph
Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Lee,
This is an immature Sycamore Assassin Bug, and though they are not considered dangerous, they are capable of biting and the bite of a Sycamore Assassin Bug is reported to be painful.

 

Letter 37 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Tiny pretty bug?
Location: Santa Monica, CA USA
September 15, 2015 2:02 am
I found this little guy in Santa Monica, he was on some large mesh orange netting surrounding some trees, to protect them I think. This guy is very small only about 1/4″ long, with 6 legs. I have no idea what he is or could be, can you tell me please.
Thank you,
Signature: Lauri

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Lauri,
This is an immature, beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug nymph that might bite if carelessly handled.

Letter 38 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: possible assassin bug nymph
Location: Takoma Park, MD
December 7, 2015 7:14 pm
I originally thought this guy was a mantis nymph because of its arched back but knew the head wasn’t quite right for a mantis. After perusing WTB, I think it might be an assassin bug nymph. We are having our first few cold days (30s/40s) in Maryland so it probably came inside for the sake of warmth.
Signature: MD Bug

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

This is indeed an Assassin Bug nymph, and we believe it to be in the genus Zelus based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 39 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: South-West Michigan, 20 miles from Grand Rapids, Mi
May 1, 2016 2:05 pm
Hello!
Thank you for opening my message. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
I just found a bug of sorts crawling on my tennis shoes inside my house. I’m not sure if the insect was already inside my home or if it hitched a ride from my car in the garage to my house (five feet away).
I would love to know what the bug is so that I may research it and determine how to deal with the insects, particularly if they are in my home somewhere. If you can tell me what the bug type is, I would appreciate it tremendously.
The bug was walking in a fashion that, to me, more resembled a spider, but it had six legs and two long antennae. I’m not comfortable killing insects so I brought it outside.
Take you’re time to answer my question. I don’t have any observable infestation. I only want to be prepared if it turns out the bug is poisonous and I see more.
Thank you so much!
Signature: Danielle

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Danielle,
Your request is so tremendously polite, we could not possibly delay responding to you once we opened it.  This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus
Zelus, and it is definitely an outdoor predatory species.  It will be much happier outdoors and you have nothing to fear regarding an infestation of this insect.  You should exercise caution, however, when handling Zelus Assassin Bugs.  For some reason, they are prone to biting folks, though we suspect it is because they feel threatened.  Though the bite is reported to be somewhat painful, it is not considered dangerous.

Letter 40 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: What’s that bug?
Location: Burbank, CA
May 31, 2016 7:50 pm
Hi,
I saw this beautiful bug on my eggplant leaves this morning.
Can you help find out what it is please?
Signature: Laurent

Assassin Bug Nymph
Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Laurent,
This is a beneficial, predatory, immature Assassin Bug.  It will help keep your eggplant free of plant feeding species.

Letter 41 – Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Bug on all my plants
Location: La Porte, Texas
July 23, 2016 7:29 am
I have these bugs on my plants. In some areas there are a mass of dozens. But only on my tomatoes and peppers plants.
Signature: I do care.

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph
Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

This is a Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph and they will help keep your vegetables free of Aphids and other insect pest.  They are a beneficial species in the home garden.

Letter 42 – Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph

 

Subject: Help identify
Location: Massachusetts
November 16, 2016 8:24 pm
Just curious as to what this is. A customer asked me to identify.
Thanks!
Signature: AnnMarie

Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph
Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph

Dear AnnMarie,
This is a predatory immature Assassin Bug in the genus
Zelus, and we believe it is a Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph.

Letter 43 – Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Bug with spiky head
Location: New Jersey
August 8, 2017 5:43 pm
I don’t think this is a wheel bug or leaf hopper or a stick bug. Please help me identify it.
Signature: Sandeep

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Sandeep,
This is a Spiny Assassin Bug nymph in the genus
SineaHere is a BugGuide image for reference.

Thanks, Daniel. Feel free to use my pictures as well if it can help others.
-Sandeep

Letter 44 – Spiny Assassin Bug nymph

 

Subject:  What is this cool bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Melbourne Australia
Date: 10/23/2017
Time: 06:10 AM EDT
G’Day and thanks in advance! I was in the garden today looking for interesting bugs to photograph and found this little fellow on the fence, he did a wobble back and forward on each step, around 1cm long it is spring at the moment!
How you want your letter signed:  Ray

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Ray,
This looks to us like a Spiny Assassin Bug nymph in the genus
Sinea, which is pictured on BugGuide.  We will research if you have any related species in Australia.  It might be an immature Brown Spiny Assassin Bug, Neoveledella aculeata, which is pictured on the Brisbane Insect site, but there are only adults pictured.

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Letter 45 – Assassin Bug Nymph from Australia

 

Subject:  what am i
Geographic location of the bug:  Victoria Australia
Date: 12/05/2017
Time: 06:12 AM EDT
Hello fellow bug lovers, i would love to get a final answer on this bug i photographed a few month ago, i was told by someone it was a assassin bug Nymph but have been unable to confirm this through many searches as the head looks different to examples i have came across! would love your input if possible?
How you want your letter signed:  Ray

Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Ray,
This is definitely an Assassin Bug nymph, but we don’t know the species.  Several months ago we published a very similar looking Assassin Bug nymph from Australia.

Letter 46 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject:  What is this??
Geographic location of the bug:  Greenwood, Arkansas
Date: 12/14/2017
Time: 08:07 PM EDT
They are in my house…
Are they poisonous???
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you, trina

Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Trina,
This is an immature, predatory Assassin Bug in the genus
Zelus, and members of that genus tend to bite humans more readily than other Assassin Bug, and though the bite is reported to be somewhat painful, it is not considered dangerous.

Letter 47 – Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject:  bug seen on my orchid  leaf
Geographic location of the bug:  inside my house in virginia beach
Date: 04/25/2018
Time: 05:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I saw this  bug on my orchid. I think he is pretty.
How you want your letter signed:  VA bug lover

Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear VA bug lover,
In this case, you chose wisely.  This is an immature Assassin Bug, probably in the genus
Zelus, and it is a predator that will help keep injurious insects from your orchid.  We would urge you to exercise caution.  Though not considered dangerous, we have received several reports of people being bitten by Assassin Bugs in the genus Zelus.

Assassin Bug Nymph

Letter 48 – Spiny Assassin Bug nymph

 

Subject:  A pest company couldn’t identify
Geographic location of the bug:  Virginia, USA
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 02:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please tell me what this is
How you want your letter signed:  Intrigued and Possibly Concerned

Spiny Assassin Bug nymph

Dear Intrigued and Possibly Concerned,
This is a Spiny Assassin Bug nymph from the genus
Sinea, and you can compare your individual to this BugGuide image.  Assassin Bugs are beneficial predators, though careless handling might result in a painful bite.  This is an outdoor species and if it found its way into your home, that was accidental.  We can’t imagine calling an exterminating company for insect found outside in the yard as the company would never be able to annihilate everything, so we are guessing you found it indoors.

Thank you so much for letting me know what bug I found. I only contacted pest company for identification purposes as there are kids in my home and need to know what bites. Have a great day 🙂

Letter 49 – Sycamore Assassin Bug nymph

 

Subject:  Yellow spider/insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Fairview, Tn. SW of Nashville
Date: 08/10/2018
Time: 12:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this?
Six legs.
Resembles spider but has six legs.
Fairview Tennessee.
Woods section of house and back porch.
How you want your letter signed:  Jenn

Sycamore Assassin Bug nymph

Dear Jenn,
This is an awesome camera angle on your Sycamore Assassin Bug nymph.

Letter 50 – Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph on Woody Plant

 

Subject:  Identity
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 08/15/2018
Time: 06:18 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Is this katydid nymph? (on Cannabis leaf).
How you want your letter signed:  Mel Frank

Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph

Hi Mel,
This is much better than a Katydid nymph.  It is a predatory Assassin Bug nymph, and we identified it as a Leafhopper Assassin Bug nymph,
Zelus renardii, thanks to these images posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Generalist predator (despite its common name suggesting host specificity).”  It is also pictured on the Natural History of Orange County site.

Letter 51 – Beneficial Assassin Bug Nymph on Woody Plant

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Yuba city California
Date: 06/12/2019
Time: 12:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I want to know what kind of big this is and if it’s good for my plants or not
How you want your letter signed:  Carol

Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear Carol,
This is a beneficial, predatory, immature Assassin Bug, probably in the genus
Zelus, and it will patrol your Cannabis plant for plant eating insects.  Exercise caution as Assassin Bugs in the genus Zelus may bite if carelessly handled and the bite is reported to be quite painful, but not dangerous, unlike Kissing Bugs, another group of Assassin Bugs, that are known to spread Chagas Disease, especially in the tropics.

Letter 52 – Sycamore Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject:  Odd Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Western Mass
Date: 09/23/2019
Time: 06:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  No one I’ve asked remembers ever seeing a bug like this before, even the horticulturally inclined. Seen on Sept 10th
How you want your letter signed:  Curiouser and curiouser

Immature Sycamore Assassin Bug

Dear Curiouser and curiouser,
This is an immature Sycamore Assassin Bug, a beneficial predator in the garden.

Letter 53 – Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

 

Subject:  what’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  wesley chapel florida
Date: 06/22/2020
Time: 07:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  just curious if this mantis is native to florida or the u.s. in general, if this is the adult or juvenile form it was tiny crawling in the sand where I was working amazing little creature.
How you want your letter signed:  ahardy

Spiny Assassin Bug Nymph

Dear ahardy,
This is not a Mantis, but your mistake is understandable as both Mantids and this Spiny Assassin Bug nymph from the genus
Sinea both have raptoreal front legs they use to grasp prey.  Handle with caution.  Assassin Bugs might bite if carelessly handled.

Reader Emails

95655

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – What’s On the Security Camera???

 

Subject:  Creepy security camera footage
Geographic location of the bug:  Seattle, Washington
Date: 08/27/2018
Time: 11:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
My parents recently invested in a security camera for their front porch which starts recording whenever it detects motion. While most of the footage is of deer, rabbits, and birds, we couldn’t help but be a bit creeped out by this one. It only has 6 legs, so it’s not a spider, but no antennae?  Seems strange. It probably looks a lot more ominous than it actually is, but what it looks like is the stuff of nightmares, so seriously… what the hell is it???
How you want your letter signed:  More curious than concerned

Security Camera Bug

Dear More curious than concerned,
Security cameras have wide angle lenses, meaning they distort perspective by making objects closer to the camera appear disproportionately larger than they actually are.  There is not enough detail for us to be able to provide you with a definitive identification, but our initial guess is possibly an Assassin Bug in the genus
Zelus.  We can think of a few other possibilities, but we thought it might be fun for our readers to write in and take a guess, either by posting a comment or writing back to us using the subject line “Security Camera Bug”.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

52 thoughts on “Assassin Bug Life Cycle”

  1. Dear Bug Man,

    Not to worry. I love your site, and am following with facebook now too. I think it may be next winter before I get all the creatures I find now that I’m really looking ID’d. But that’s ok. Thanks for all you do here. Bugs are fun!

    Creek Keeper

    Reply
  2. I have a tendency to think that this is a coreid nymph. I think we can see the long slender rostrum which is not characteristic of the reduviids.

    Reply
  3. This is a nymph of Zelus longipes, the only conspicuous red and black Zelus species (in the Nearctic region).

    Reply
  4. Probably a nymph of Zelus luridus, but in Georgia, I can’t with absoluate certainty rule out either Z. cervicalis or Z. tetracanthus.

    Reply
  5. This is a Zelus nymph, and in Oregon, it pretty much has to be Z. renardii. I just can’t see the abdominal spines as well as I’d like.

    Reply
  6. Do these assasin bug nymphs bite? I can’t get rid of them. They are coming in on my dog. I found one on my refrigerator this morning. I am finding them all over, mostly outside. Yet they come in and I find them on my arm. SMACK–then I kill them. Do they bite? I need information.

    Reply
  7. Cant wait till these guys come in. Just planted milkweed a month ago and so far I am inundated with the large milkweed bug. I hope the ladybugs and assassin bugs are on their way!

    Reply
  8. Wow! I saw the orange bug crawling along my wall the other day. I am a bit embarrassed to say how long I searched for it (googling “orange bug, six legs”), but I finally found it! And funny enough, I live in the Houston area, as well. Maybe they are common here? The first I have seen so far. . .anyway, thank you for the identification 🙂

    Reply
  9. Hi i was laying in bed relaxing and i felt something sting me, and as soon as i got up it was running away and i killed it, it looked like a beetle with a stinger on the back of it, the sting is painful i have been trying to figure out what kind of bug it was and what i need to do

    Reply
  10. I live in Malaysia in tropical weather and found a line of egg sacs with this tiny insects around the sacs on my grill door. At first I thought they were ants but on closer inspection they aren’t. Identified them as assassin bugs after some google research.
    I have researched on assassin bug nymphs and most of them have a bright orange abdomen.
    The one I saw did not, they were fully black similar to the one in the photo above.
    The questions is, are this bugs dangerous to humans? I live in a condo and am particularly afraid this little guys might crawl into the house and cause bites.

    Reply
  11. I live in Malaysia in tropical weather and found a line of egg sacs with this tiny insects around the sacs on my grill door. At first I thought they were ants but on closer inspection they aren’t. Identified them as assassin bugs after some google research.
    I have researched on assassin bug nymphs and most of them have a bright orange abdomen.
    The one I saw did not, they were fully black similar to the one in the photo above.
    The questions is, are this bugs dangerous to humans? I live in a condo and am particularly afraid this little guys might crawl into the house and cause bites.

    Reply
    • While Assassin Bugs may bite if carelessly handled, they are not considered dangerous to humans, with the exception of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma.

      Reply
  12. Believe me… they bite and it hurts! One came into the house on who knows what but ended up on an oven mitt that rested on my counter. I picked up the mitt to quickly use it on an oven dish and the bug stabbed my hand … it was horribly painful! Now three days later it’s still tender and full of serous fluid and itchy until touched, then tender.

    Reply
  13. I wanted to stop and say thank you for helping me figure out what this bug is. I have been spraying them with neem oil trying to get rid of them because I didn’t know they were a beneficial insect. Now that I know, I will just let them do their thing. Thanks again from College Station, Texas

    Reply
  14. I have several hundred milk weed plants, in various parts of my back yard. Are these insects going to be problems for the monark catapillers on these plants. Is this just something to put up with. This is our 4th year trying to have a butterfly garden but have noticed more of these bugs this season. We have released several hundred monark over the years and had thought these to be harmless to the monark Is there any method for controls. Thanks Earl from Bossier City, La.

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  15. I live in GA and had bugs like this all over my eggplant through most of the summer. I was seriously creeped out by them but they didn’t seem to affect the plant, so I put off trying to get rid of them. Decision was confirmed when I saw one of them eating some other bug. They all disappeared spontaneously around early to mid August. Now that I know they’re “good bugs”, is there a way to encourage them to come back? Also, I have a whitefly infestation and am looking for food-safe solutions.

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  16. Hi we live in England and we have just found a bug in our garden that we have never come across before can you help us with its name? Its small and black and if it gets scared all its tiny legs go under his body like the same way a tortoise does when he hides in his shell?

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  17. Last summer i had beautiful blooms. This year my seed pods appeared in early summer and they are still present. I’ve had a huge family of baby assassin bugs and adults. I had a few blooms at the beginning of spring but none after. Whats going on with them?

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