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.

2 thoughts on “Assassin Bug Nymph”

  1. 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.

    • 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.


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