Masked hunter bugs, scientifically known as Reduvius personatus, are a type of assassin bug commonly found in the eastern United States. These insects are predators, feeding on other insects such as flies, carpet beetles, mealworms, and bed bugs. Also, the nymph stage of the masked hunter bug is known for covering itself with debris, which gives it a “masked” appearance.
One question often asked about these insects is whether they can fly or not. Masked hunter bugs are indeed capable of flying, as their adult form possesses wings. However, they typically rely on crawling for mobility, using their wings mainly in search of prey or to escape any potential threats.
In summary, masked hunter bugs can fly, but they mostly rely on crawling to navigate their environment. These insects are generally considered a nuisance indoors and can bite when handled carelessly, so it is important to exercise caution around them.
Masked Hunter Bug Overview
Identification and Appearance
The masked hunter bug (Reduvius personatus) is a type of assassin bug. Adult masked hunters are elongate, black or very dark brown in color, and have a somewhat glossy appearance. They typically range in size from 17-22 mm (0.686-0.875 inches) in length1. Nymphs, or immature masked hunters, are known for their unique camouflage. They are covered in microscopic hairs that catch and hold dust, lint, and other small debris particles2.
Habitat and Range
Masked hunter bugs can be found in various regions, including Europe, North America, Canada, and South Africa3. These insects are common in the eastern United States4. They tend to inhabit both indoor and outdoor environments. Outdoors, they can be found under rocks, leaves, and bark, while indoors, they are usually spotted in cracks and crevices5.
Classification and Life Cycle
Belonging to the family Reduviidae and the order Hemiptera (true bugs), masked hunters are predators that feed on various insects6. Their life cycle consists of an egg, nymph, and adult stages.
- Identification and Appearance: Elongate, black or dark brown adults; nymphs with unique debris camouflage
- Habitat and Range: Found in Europe, North America, Canada, South Africa; both indoor and outdoor environments
- Classification and Life Cycle: Belong to Reduviidae family and Hemiptera order; life cycle includes egg, nymph, and adult stages
Feeding and Prey
Types of Insects
Masked hunter bugs, both nymphs and adults, are predators that feed on a variety of insects and arthropods, such as:
- Sowbugs (woodlice)
- Bed bugs
The behavior of masked hunter bugs varies between their nymph and adult stages.
- Camouflage themselves by carrying dust and debris on their body to ambush prey1.
- Possess microscopic hairs to catch and hold dust, lint, and small particles2.
- Dark brown or black, and about 3/4 inch long2.
- Lack the debris camouflage present in nymphs.
Captive hunting can provide insight into the hunting behavior of masked hunter bugs. When given various arthropod species as prey, some observations include:
- Lacewings are easily captured and consumed.
- Earwigs may require a longer duration to subdue and feed on.
- Sowbugs and woodlice can be challenging due to their robust exoskeleton.
- Bed bugs, a common household pest, are aptly consumed by adult masked hunter bugs.
|Captive Hunting Difficulty
|Easy for adult hunters
Effects on Humans
Bite and Pain Comparison
Masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus) can inflict a painful bite if handled carelessly. The pain is often compared to a bee sting. Here is a comparison table:
|Bite Pain Level
Possible Diseases Caused
Masked hunters are not known to transmit diseases to humans. However, they belong to the assassin bug family, which includes kissing bugs, and these insects can spread Chagas disease.
Treatment and Medical Attention
A masked hunter bug bite generally does not require medical attention. Some first aid measures to take after a bite include:
- Cleaning the bite area with soap and water
- Applying ice or a cold pack to reduce swelling
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers for discomfort
Seek medical attention if the swelling worsens or if there are signs of infection (e.g., increased redness, warmth, or pus). It is important to remember that these bites are mostly a nuisance and rarely cause serious complications.
In conclusion, masked hunter bugs can cause painful bites, but they generally do not pose a risk to human health. It is best to avoid handling them to prevent bites and associated pain.
Masked Hunter Bug In and Around Homes
Masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus) are a type of assassin bug commonly found indoors. They can infest homes, especially during colder months, such as winter, and are considered a nuisance. Signs of infestation include:
- Seeing the dark brown or black adult bugs, which are about 3/4 inch long
- Spotting the nymphs, whose microscopic hairs catch dust and debris for camouflage
Prevention and Control
To prevent and control masked hunter bug infestations, focus on reducing access to your home and eliminating their indoor habitats:
- Seal cracks and crevices in buildings, particularly around windows and doors
- Clear away debris from wooded areas close to your home
- Use insecticides as a last resort, as they may harm beneficial insects too
- In spring, summer, and fall, turn off outdoor lights to avoid attracting them to your house
Vacuum Cleaning Tips
Vacuum cleaning is an effective, non-toxic way to remove masked hunter bugs from homes. Follow these tips for best results:
- Regularly vacuum cracks, crevices, and other hiding spots within your home
- Dispose of the vacuum’s contents outdoors immediately after use to avoid reinfestation
Remember, while masked hunter bugs can be a nuisance, they also help control insect pests. Handle them with care to avoid painful bites and take the time to prevent infestations rather than resorting to chemical control methods.
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 – Masked Hunter
My daugter found a bug about 5/16" long and 1/4" wide. It is blue (like a torguoise), 6 legs, semi hard shell looking. Don’t have a photo. They found it in their bathroom which is on the upper floor of a 3 story apartment bldg, all cement. Wish you cuold help identify. They still have it in a baggy. It is now dead. Maybe I can get a photo and email it this week.
I’m guessing you have a Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus, a type of Assassin Bug from the family Reduviidae. These are True Bugs and they they are predatory. They are often found indoors where they prey on Bedbugs, but they are fully capable of delivering a painful bite to people who carelessly handle them. They get their common name because they have the habit of accumulating lint on their heads and bodies, and hence become masked. It looks like your daughter’s specimen has accumulated turquoise lint, possibly from a carpet.
I THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR RESPONDING. I have just never seen anything like it in all my years, but it makes sense. thanks again.
Letter 2 – Masked Hunter ?
Found in bathroom and bedroom
My fiance found these while I was at work… And saved them to show me..but I have no idea what they are.. The body is about .50" Picture is taken through a drinking glass. Help us identify this bug. Looks like some kind of overgrown dust mite.
It isn’t a dust mite, but rather a Hemipteran or True Bug. It appears to be a Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus which according to Borror and DeLong in An Introduction to the Study of Insects, is a brownish black bug that is often found in houses; it feeds on bed bugs but will also bite man. It has a habit of accumulating lint on its head, and thus becomes masked."
Letter 3 – Masked Hunter
What’s this guy’s story?
Found this tiny insect (half the diameter of a pencil eraser) on my kitchen counter. The only reason I even saw him was his poor choice of hiding places–on top of a red pizza menu. I thought it was a spider, but can only count 6 legs in my photos. He was a slow mover. Back legs were nearly twice as long as the others. His most distinctive feature is clearly the flaky skin. Perhaps he was just sticky and picked up some crumbs. At the magnification of this shot, he appears to be breaded and deep fried. Can you ID him and provide any insight into his tasty looking, tempura-like coating? Thanks,
We love your deep fried description of a Masked Bedbug Hunter, one of the Assassin Bugs. This is a nymph, and when this species is immature, it is sticky and gets covered with “lint” which acts as protection. They will feed on Bed Bugs which are reaching epidemic proportions recently.
Letter 4 – Masked Hunter
Looks like a large mite
Hi, my name is Shawn, and I work in Beloit, WI. I got to work this morning and I went to put on my steel toe boots, just like any other morning, and I noticed a very small movement on my shoe inserts. I pulled out the inserts and found a bug on them. I work in a lab so naturally I went to a stereoscope and looked at it under some
magnification. It looks like there is sand or another gritty substance on it, but I cannot tell if that is its body, or if it really does have stuff stuck to it. I do use foot powder in my shoes, but the foot powder would be more fine than the grit that is on its body. I have included a photo of the bug and was wondering if you could give some insight as to what it might be. Thank-you very much for your time.
This is an immature Masked Hunter, one of the Assassin Bugs. The young insects are sticky and lint adheres to them. They are predators and a favorite prey is the Bedbud, a pest now reaching epidemic proportions.
Letter 5 – Masked Hunter
what is this bug?
My wife freaked and called me to the bedroom and told me to kill this bug. Insyead I picked it up and put it in a jar, it looks like a tick of some sort, but the size of it makes me worried, I have a young daughter and a bite from a tick that big would hurt..I took the picture beside a penny so you could see the size, it also has some powder like substance on its body and legs. Could you please let me know what we have walking around in our apartment? Thanks
You have encountered an immature Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug. The Masked Hunter is covered with sticky hairs that attract dust and debris, masking it. This is a beneficial species that preys upon Bed Bugs, but like many Assassin Bugs, it will bite if mishandled.
Letter 6 – Masked Hunter
crusty the bug
Any information regarding this specimen would be much appreciated. I found the little guy in my basement. At first I thought it was a small spider (it moved like a spider as well). It also rights itself when on it’s back similar to a crayfish of lobster. Weird little thing eh Thanks for your time,
Dave from Winnipeg, Canada
This is a Masked Bedbug Hunter, one of the Assassin Bugs. Immature Masked Hunters are sticky and all manner of lint sticks to them and masks them.
Letter 7 – Masked Hunter in Namibia???
What’s that bug?
Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:58 PM
Last August i found this interesting insect in Namibia. Its amazing the camouflage, is very difficult to see near the rocks.. Its near 1 cm and very quite.
Thanks so much
Greetings from Spain
Your insect reminds us of a North American species called the Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus. The immature Masked Hunter is sticky and attracts dust and debris to its body as a form of camouflage. Homemakers often encounter dusty specimens in their homes. One of our favorite images from our archive was a Masked Hunter nymph that was blue because the carpet in its habitat was blue and the carpet fibers stuck to the bug. If this is a closely related species and it doesn’t have a dusty home interior as a habitat, it would attract sand and small pebbles to its sticky exoskeleton. Your creature is definitely a Hemipteran, probably a nymph and probably an Assassin Bug, and quite possibly in the same genus, Reduvius, as the Masked Hunter.
Letter 8 – Masked Hunter Imago
Kill number 4
Location: South East Michigan
July 2, 2011 3:30 am
I’ve been finding these in my base ment and they seem to have come with the warm weather..what’s this bug?!
A major part of our mission is to educate the public regarding the lower beasts in order to promote knowledge and tolerance. This is an adult Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug. They are important predators that are frequently found near dwellings. They are also called Bed Bug Hunters, no doubt because they feed upon those thirsty bloodsuckers that prevent so many folks from getting a good night’s sleep. Immature Masked Hunters have a sticky body surface that attracts all manner of dust and debris which effectively camouflages them or masks them in their surroundings. Interestingly, adults are not sticky, perhaps because debris would prevent them from flying effectively. If you have a thriving population of Masked Hunters in your basement, they must have a plentiful food source, and eliminating the predators may cause the prey to overrun your home. Caution should be exercised in handling Masked Hunters as well as other Assassin Bugs as they are capable of producing a painful bite.
Letter 9 – Masked Hunter from Canada
Subject: Looks like a bed bug but about 16 – 19 mm long
Location: Toronto Ontario Canada
February 13, 2013 6:18 pm
Please help us to identify this bug. We live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in a fully detached home (bungalow in front/basement walk-out in back (in the back, basement floor only two ft below ground level). Three years ago we fully renovated the house. The basement is dry, maintained around 20C (it’s now winter)and it has been fully renovated with wall-to-wall 100% wool carpeting. In the past year I have found in the basement area 4-5 bugs like the one in the attached photo. All of them have been spotted, in the morning or evening, lying still on the carpet (carpet also beige)two of them a few inches from the baseboard in two of the downstairs bedrooms, the others simply walking across the carpet. When disturbed they can move quite quickly. They appear to look like a bed bug but they are much bigger (16-19 mm long), not 5-7 mm in length like bed bugs. What are they? Are they dangerous in any way and can they bite while sleeping? Thanks for your help.
This is not a Bed Bug. It is an immature Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug. The common name of Masked Hunter refers to the characteristics of the nymphs which have a sticky exterior that attracts fibers from their surroundings, which in your case appears to be woolen carpet fibers. This helps to camouflage the Masked Hunter. Masked Hunters are also called Masked Bed Bug Hunters because they will prey upon Bed Bugs. Like other Assassin Bugs, Masked Hunters might bite if carelessly handled, but they are still considered beneficial predators.
Many thanks for responding to the email. Even the experts in our city who treat for bed bugs could not name this one. Great relief!
Letter 10 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Scary looking
Location: South Western PA
January 10, 2016 1:18 am
found this in my dining room today. Looked like it was covered in sand or something. Exterminated for lack of knowledge of it. What is it?
Signature: -PA Matt
Dear PA Matt,
Though it is highly likely that a Masked Hunter like the one you found might bite if it is carelessly handled, it is nonetheless considered to be a beneficial predator. Masked Hunters are frequently found in the home, and the common name is due to the fact that the sticky exoskeleton causes debris to stick, effectively masking the insect and helping it to blend in among its surroundings. Another common name is Masked Bed Bug Hunter, and this predator has no problem feeding on Bed Bugs and other unwanted household pests. Hopefully that information will cause you to be more tolerant in the future.
Letter 11 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Swamp thing bug, some sort of weevil?
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
June 24, 2016 6:56 am
I was sweeping around my front door and I thought this was a ball of dirt or maybe a tiny crumpled ball of dead grass. Then it started moving! Slowly. I don’t know if I hurt it sweeping or that’s just how it moves to be camouflaged, but I pushed it onto a piece of cardboard and threw it back into the garden.
This stealth, camouflaged predator is an immature Masked Hunter. They are sticky and they attract debris that helps to conceal them from both predators and prey. Masked Hunters have adapted well to living indoors with humans, though we are quite confident your individual will be fine in your garden.
Letter 12 – Masked Hunter, we believe
Subject: Corsair or masked assassin?
July 16, 2016 9:23 pm
In Vermont…on my pillow…next to my face…please help me identify!
In our opinion, this looks more like an adult Masked Hunter than a Black Corsair. If you compare your individual to this image of a Black Corsair on BugGuide, you see that the latter is a heavier bodied insect with more substantial sucking mouthparts and fleshy pads on the front legs. The Masked Hunters on BugGuide have more slender legs like your individual. Additionally, immature lint covered Masked Hunters are frequently found indoors, while Black Corsairs tend to be outdoor insects, though BugGuide indicates they are attracted to lights. Though neither species is dangerous to humans, they do bite relatively readily if carelessly handled.
Thank you so much for such a speedy response! Your site is amazing.
Although now I feel paranoid about bed bugs as it seems the Masked Hunters seek those out…!
My very best,
Yes, but they feed on other insects as well, and they will kill any Bed Bugs they find.
Letter 13 – Masked Hunter
Subject: What kind of beetle is this
Location: Rochester NY
August 5, 2016 6:58 am
I found this in my house under my curtain an it flew as I tried to knock it down to catch it, what is this!?
This is a Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus, a species of Assassin Bug that gets its common name because the immature nymphs are sticky and attract all manner of lint and debris that effectively camouflages or masks them in their surroundings. They are frequently found in homes where they prey upon many undesirable Household Pests, including cockroaches and bed bugs. Though it is considered t be a beneficial predator that poses no threat to humans, Masked Hunters should be handled with caution as they are able to inflict a painful bite. You can compare your individual to this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “Can inflict a painful bite but does not feed on blood, and does not transmit diseases. Introduced from Europe.”
Letter 14 – Masked Hunter
Subject: What is this bug???
Location: Toronto, Canada
July 2, 2017 4:33 pm
Found In My daughter’s bedroom dead. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This looks to us like an adult Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug that has adapted to living indoors with humans. We generally get images of “masked” immature Masked Hunters that are covered with debris as a means of camouflage. You can verify our identification by viewing this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “Can inflict a painful bite but does not feed on blood, and does not transmit diseases. Introduced from Europe.”
Letter 15 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Kissing bug?
Location: Idaho falls, Idaho
July 10, 2017 9:00 pm
Sure would like to know if my kiddos are at risk.
Signature: Concerned Mama
Dear Concerned Mama,
This is an adult Masked Hunter, and it is classified with Kissing Bugs in the Assassin Bug family. According to BugGuide: “Can inflict a painful bite but does not feed on blood, and does not transmit diseases. Introduced from Europe.” You may have already encountered Masked Hunter nymphs in your home. Their sticky exoskeleton attracts dust and debris which effectively camouflages them in their environment.
Letter 16 – Masked Hunter
Subject: bugs in my house
July 22, 2017 11:35 pm
over the last few days there have been multiple occurrences of these black/dark brown bugs in my home. I have seen one near the bathroom on two separate occasions, and tonight one flew into a table lamp in the living room. I have just been catching them and letting them loose outside, but my girlfriend is worried they may be cockroaches, although I don’t think they are. I am concerned bc our cats are trying to eat them, so I would like to make sure they aren’t any danger to them.
This is a Masked Hunter, a predatory Assassin Bug that has adapted to living with humans. The immature Masked Hunters have a sticky exoskeleton that attracts debris, effectively masking the insect so it is camouflaged in its environment. Handle Masked Hunters with caution. They might bite.
Letter 17 – Masked Hunter in Canada
Subject: bug identification
Geographic location of the bug: winnipeg Manitoba Canada
Time: 04:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: please identify this bug I found crawling across a cement floor at work
How you want your letter signed: bob
This is an immature Masked Hunter, a species of predatory Assassin Bug. The exoskeleton of a newly molted immature Masked Hunter is sticky, and it attracts debris that helps to camouflage the insect, and helps explain the common name. Masked Hunters might bite if carelessly handled, but they will also help to keep unwanted creatures from proliferating.
Letter 18 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Unknown bug
Geographic location of the bug: Southern Ontario Canada
Time: 02:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found this bug crawling on some laundry
How you want your letter signed: Regards
This is an immature Masked Hunter, a species frequently found indoors in the northern sections of North America. The Masked Hunter is a predatory Assassin Bug that is capable of biting a human if it is carelessly handled. Immature Masked Hunters have a sticky exoskeleton that allows dust and debris to stick to the insect, effectively camouflaging it in its environment.
Letter 19 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Weird 6 legged grey parasite creature
Geographic location of the bug: Montreal, in my bedroom
Time: 11:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: It is around as big as a Canadian nickel. Very weird, looks like a parasite. It has 6 legs and two antennae on its little head. Grey and sorta fuzzy. I would like to know which species this is, and if it’s dangerous or not. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed: Michael
The Masked Hunter is not a “parasite creature” but rather, a stealth predator. Immature Masked Hunters have a sticky exoskeleton that attracts lint and other debris to effectively mask it to help it to blend in with its surroundings. While not dangerous to humans, a Masked Hunter might bite if it is carelessly handled. Masked Hunters have adapted quite well to cohabitating with humans, and it will help to control Cockroaches and other unwanted household pests.
Letter 20 – Masked Hunter from Canada
Geographic location of the bug: ottawa
Time: 09:36 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: please identify this insect
How you want your letter signed: citron
This is an immature Assassin Bug that is commonly called a Masked Hunter because its sticky exoskeleton attracts all manner of debris that effectively “masks” the insect and protects it from predators. Though Masked Hunters might deliver a painful bite if carelessly handled, they do not pose a threat to humans and they will feed on other undesirable creatures including Bed Bugs, Cockroaches and Spiders.
Letter 21 – Masked Hunter in Poland
Subject: It looked like its legs were leaves
Geographic location of the bug: Poland
Time: 09:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I found this bug in my curtain, i’ve searched through google – its not phyllium and I dont think its coreidae’s family. I took it outside, but Im really curious what it is
How you want your letter signed: Nikola
This is an immature Masked Hunter, a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug that will prey upon unwanted visitors in your home. Masked Hunters seem to have adapted quite well to cohabitation with humans. The appearance of its legs is due to the debris that sticks to its exoskeleton, a camouflage technique that benefits the Masked Hunter. There is another family of True Bugs known as Leaf Footed Bugs, but that is a different family.
Letter 22 – Masked Hunter
Subject: Please I’d this insect
Geographic location of the bug: Northern Illinois
Time: 04:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Went camping with my Boy Scouts in sandwich Illinois. Found this bug when we brought our gear home. Unsure what it is.
How you want your letter signed: Ben Bentley Scoutmaster Troop 102
This is a Masked Hunter, the immature form of a predatory Assassin Bug that has a sticky exoskeleton. Debris sticks to the Masked Hunter, effectively camouflaging it. Masked Hunters should be handled with caution. Though the bite is not considered dangerous, it can be painful.
Letter 23 – Masked Hunter
Subject : What in the world is this?
Geographic location of the bug: Murray, Utah
Time: 08:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We were moving things in our mother’s unfinished basement preparing for her home to be sold and this frisky fella was hiding in a cardboard box. Scoots around pretty fast and reminded us of a crab with how it walked. It looks “dusty” and at first we thought it was some sort of spider, but only has six legs, not 8 and has antennas. Is this something to be worried about in her home? Are they poisonous, do they bite, what attracts them?? So far we only found one but he’s a really cool looking fella!
How you want your letter signed: Stacy the nervous bug
This is a Masked Hunter, an immature Assassin Bug in the species Reduvius personatus that has a sticky exoskeleton. All manner of dust and debris sticks to the insect, effectively masking it in its surroundings in an interesting example of adaptive camouflage. According to BugGuide: “Nymphs cover themselves with dust, lint, sand, and other debris which usually matches the color of their immediate surroundings and makes the nymphs difficult to detect.”