Does Masked Hunter Mean Bed Bugs? Uncovering the Connection

Masked hunters are a type of assassin bug that can be found indoors. While they are known to bite people when handled carelessly, their presence doesn’t necessarily indicate a bed bug infestation. These insects, scientifically known as Reduvius personatus, originally come from Europe and are now common in the eastern United States, including Minnesota UMN Extension.

On the other hand, bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown, wingless, and range in size from 1mm to 7mm CDC. Although masked hunters and bed bugs can be found in similar environments, they do not necessarily coexist.

In conclusion, the presence of masked hunters should not be taken as definitive evidence of a bed bug infestation. Both insects can be found indoors, and steps should be taken to properly identify and address either issue if an infestation is suspected. Consider contacting a pest control professional for accurate identification and effective treatment options.

Identifying Masked Hunters

Physical Characteristics

Masked hunters are an assassin bug species, originating in Europe and now common in eastern United States1. They have distinct physical traits that set them apart from bed bugs:

  • Adults: Dark brown or black, approximately 3/4 inch long2
  • Nymphs: Covered in microscopic hairs that collect dust and debris, giving them a camouflaged appearance2

Compare this to bed bugs, which are small, flat, reddish-brown, and wingless, ranging from 1mm to 7mm in size3.

Biology

Masked hunters exhibit unique behaviors:

  • Adults and nymphs feed on other insects, using their mouthparts to inject digestive enzymes into their prey4.
  • They can deliver a painful bite if mishandled, but it is generally not harmful to humans1.

Habitat

Unlike bed bugs that live exclusively indoors and feed on blood, masked hunters can be found both indoors and outdoors5. They have a wider geographic range, spanning the United States, southern Canada, Europe, and western Asia5.

Masked Hunter vs. Bed Bug Comparison Table

Trait Masked Hunter Bed Bug
Size 3/4 inch (adult) 1mm – 7mm
Color Dark brown or black Reddish-brown
Feeding Habits Eats other insects Feeds on blood
Painful Bite If mishandled Not applicable
Habitat Indoors and outdoors Exclusively indoors

Masked Hunters and Bed Bugs

Prey and Predatory Behavior

Masked hunters (Reduvius personatus) are a type of assassin bug that feed on various insects. They prey on insects like flies, carpet beetles, mealworms, and bed bugs.

They pierce their targets using a sharp beak and suck out body fluids. This process helps keep the population of pests like bed bugs under control.

Identifying Bed Bug Infestations

When you spot a masked hunter in your home, it could be a sign of a bed bug infestation. To confirm this, look for other indicators of bed bug presence:

  • Small reddish-brown bugs
  • Tiny eggs, eggshells, and nymphs
  • Fecal spots on bedding or upholstery

Comparison Table: Masked Hunters vs. Bed Bugs

Masked Hunters Bed Bugs
Appearance Dark brown, elongate, somewhat glossy Reddish-brown, oval, flattened
Size 17-22 mm (0.686-0.875 inches) in length 4-5 mm (0.16-0.20 inches) in length
Habitat Indoors, preying on insects like bed bugs Indoors, hiding in crevices, feeding on human blood

Please remember to handle masked hunters with care as they can inflict painful bites when threatened.

By understanding the predatory behavior of masked hunters and the signs of bed bug infestations, you can take measures to address the problem in your home.

Methods of Prevention and Control

Natural Predators and Controls

One natural predator of bed bugs is the masked hunter bug (Reduvius personatus), an assassin bug originally from Europe. They can help control bed bug populations indoors. However, it’s essential to be cautious when handling them, as they can bite, though bites generally do not require medical attention.

Insecticide Treatment

Insecticides can be an effective method for controlling bed bug populations. However, some bed bugs have developed resistance to certain insecticides, so it is vital to identify the most suitable product for your specific situation. Insecticides should be combined with other preventative measures to ensure comprehensive control. Use insecticides according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure their effectiveness and safety.

Physical Removal

Physical removal of bed bugs can be an effective method for immediate control of an infestation. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Inspect: Carefully identify the infested areas, such as mattress corners, woodlice, and other hiding spots.
  2. Heat treatment: Heat can be an effective method to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Washing infested items in hot water and drying them on high heat can help eliminate the pests.
  3. Vacuum cleaner: Regularly using a vacuum cleaner to clean infested areas can help reduce bed bug populations.
Method Pros Cons
Natural Predators Chemical-free, environmentally friendly Can bite
Insecticide Effective in controlling populations quickly Some bed bugs resistant to them
Physical Removal Immediate control, no chemicals used Time-consuming, manual process

To summarize, there are various methods for preventing and controlling bed bugs, including natural predators like masked hunter bugs, insecticide treatment, and physical removal. These methods have their advantages and drawbacks, so it’s crucial to determine which one works best for your particular situation.

Masked Hunters Around the World

Geographic Distribution

Masked hunters (Reduvius personatus) are a type of assassin bug originally from Europe. They have a dark brown or black appearance and are known for their predatory behavior. These insects have made their way to various parts of the world, such as:

  • United States (particularly the Eastern United States)
  • Southern Canada
  • North America
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • India
  • Western Asia
  • The Azores and Canary Islands

Some states in the US, like Minnesota, have also reported their presence.

Significance in Different Regions

In regions like the United States and Canada, masked hunters are considered a nuisance mainly because they can bite humans when handled carelessly. Although their bites generally don’t require medical attention, it’s crucial to be mindful of their presence indoors. They usually live and thrive in indoor environments, feeding on other insects.

In other parts of the world, such as South Africa and North America, their significance lies in their role as natural predators, helping control the population of various insects, including bed bugs. By feeding on insects such as bed bugs, they inadvertently aid in keeping infestations at bay, mitigating the negative impacts these pests might have on humans.

However, it’s important to note that the presence of masked hunters doesn’t necessarily imply a bed bug infestation.

Footnotes

  1. UMN Extension 2

  2. Michigan State University 2

  3. CDC – Bed Bugs

  4. Wisconsin Horticulture

  5. Penn State Extension 2

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 – Unmasked: Immature Masked Hunter

 

Unknown insect
Location: Grand Island, NE
February 4, 2012 5:46 pm
My wife found this insect in her bath towel. It left what appears to be a single puncture in her skin. We just want to know what it is.
Signature: John

Masked Hunter nymph, Unmasked

Dear John,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, but we had to do a bit of digging to identify the species even though this is one of the most common Assassin Bugs on our website.  This is an Masked Hunter nymph, though it is a bit atypical since Masked Hunter nymphs are generally covered in lint an debris that acts as camouflage for them.  We are guessing this individual is newly molted and it hasn’t yet had any lint or debris stick to it yet.  Masked Hunters are often found in the home, and we generally inform people that they are beneficial as they will eat other problematic insects and they are especially fond of hunting Bed Bugs.  Masked Hunters do not normally bite humans, but they will bite if carelessly handled or provoked.  Sadly, the accidental encounter your wife had resulted in a bite.  The bite is not considered dangerous, though the discomfort may last a few days.  Adult Masked Hunters are glossy black winged insects.

Letter 2 – Masked Hunter

 

"Sandy" little bug
I found this little guy in our office today next to my boots. I thought it was a piece of dirt and was about to brush it away when it moved! I live near Marquette, Michigan (Upper Peninsula) and have have never seen one like it up here before. An internet search turned up nothing so I thought maybe you could enlighten me as to its name/origin/why I never saw one before. It appears to be covered in dust/fine sand and if it was actually sitting in sand, I doubt anybody would give him a second glance. An odd characteristic (other than appearing to need a bath), is that his abdomen is flat, not rounded. Thanks for any information you can provide.
Regards,
Creig

Hi Creig,
The Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus, is a species of Assassin Bug that hunts Bedbugs. The immature insect is covered with a viscid substance which causes particles of dust and fibers to adhere to it, masking the entire insect.>

Letter 3 – Masked Hunter

 

Computer Bug
Hi there ! Today a bit of a dust-ball rolled out from a crevice in a computer I am working on… and it turns out it’s alive! Location is North Central Nebraska, quite arrid of late though not the drought we had last year thank God!
I spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME looking hither and yon only to finally find your site which at the very least will Try to tell you what something is instead of just ask you silly questions until they mechanically pronounce it a ‘bug’. I am investing great faith in you, I took these on a wide ruled dayplanner and in some cases there is a standard sized pen in the background for size, against a ruler it measures approx .3 cm and has six legs. It really does look like dust moving around on the paper, excepting it’s long back legs and ultra-fine antennea – which seem to have a thicker base and then whip out, not segmented. The middle and forelegs are quite short and the thorax (if that’s what it is) is very small, or the thorax is just an extension of what appears to be a very small abdomen. Coloration seems to be mostly even with no markings underneath that I’ve been able to discern (it does NOT like upsidedown 🙂 It ambulates on all six legs somewhat like a grasshopper walking, yet it has not demonstrated a jump nor even any burst of speed, heck at one point I gently pushed it backward with a pencap and it just stood it’s ground heh heh. So… any ideas? I’d LOVE to know what it is… so far all I’ve ruled out is Arachanid … but since it may very well be larval I cannot dismiss winged critter of indeterminate type LOL.
Looking forward to your response,
Blessings
Michael

Hi Michael,
I absolutely love your letter. We pride ourselves on our attempts, sometimes feeble, at accuracy, but more on our user friendly format. 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.

Letter 4 – Masked Hunter

 

Camoflage Tree Insect?
June 11, 2009
Hello,
We live in Toronto, Ontario and found this guy in our washroom this evening near a window. The good urban naturalists we are, we gently captured him and went right to your site but still couldn’t see any similar insects. We know he’s not a spider and we do plan to release him into the wilderness of our yard but would love to know what he is.
Thank you!
The Ivey Family
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear Ivey Family,
We are sorry for the delay, but we were away when your letter arrived, and the huge volume of emails we received in our absence just piled up.  If you go to our Assassin Bug page, you will be able to find numerous examples of Masked Hunters posted.  Masked Hunters in their immature stages are sticky and attract lint to themselves as camouflage.

Letter 5 – Masked Hunter

 

Curious find in my apartment
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
January 8, 2011 8:17 am
Last summer, I first found this strange insect crawling on my sink – I thought it a spider at first for its odd structure, but on closer inspection noticed it had only six legs.
Its hind legs were larger, and bent – its locomotion looks somewhat like if a human were on their back, pushing themselves by bending their knees up, planting their feet, and pushing.
This seems to be most of its movement, pushing with those big hind legs and then lesser movement with the front.
It almost looks dusty on its body, like its hairs trap debris or possibly is a natural camouflage of some sort. Has two long whisker-like antennae coming from its head.
Doesn’t seem to be a very powerful crawler against gravity; a tupperware container was suitable for trapping it, as it was unable to make its way up the sides.
That specimen last summer was only maybe 4 mm long, very small, very hard to see.
This morning, however, I discovered a much larger one, somewhere from 8 to 10 mm in size on my wall. I captured it as well, but haven’t had any photos of it yet – if perhaps something more is needed yet that the pictures I have of the first specimen are needed, I can attempt to send them in, as well.
Please note that while these admittedly lower-resolution than needed photos of this tiny bug [again, only about 4 mm in length] seem to appear as if it has two pincer-like legs raised and may appear like that of a pseudoscorpion, those are in fact its larger back legs, with the head opposite. They appear raised because it preferred the rounded edge of the tupperware container it was in.
Thanks, and I appreciate any help you may have on this enigmatic fellow.
Signature: Jude Reed

Masked Hunter

Hi Jude,
Despite the lack of clarity in your photo, the outline of this Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug, is unmistakable.  The immature Masked Hunter has a sticky body surface that attracts dust and lint acting as a camouflage for the insect.  Masked Hunters are beneficial predators, but they should be handled with care as they might bite.  Bed Bug infestations seem to be ubiquitous in the news media of late, and the Masked Hunter is often called a Masked Bed Bug Hunter, indicating that they are natural predators of the nocturnal blood suckers.

Aha! I thank you many times over for the info. And it even answered as well my curiosity I’d had about the bugs that occasionally pop up in summers for me – the adult Masked Hunters seem to be the answer there, as well.
You’ve helped me twofold, and I appreciate it fourfold. Thank you.

Letter 6 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: fuzzy bug
Location: Southeastern Wisconsin
November 8, 2012 8:23 pm
Hello!
I love your website.
Could you identify this little fellow for me?
He is about 1/4 of an inch long, and appears to be made up of lint and dust, just his feet and antenna appear ’clean’. I don’t think that he is dirty, it’s just that his coat appears to be looking perhaps moldy?
The photo doesn’t show this very well.
I know I have seen him in a bug book before, but I can’t find him.
He was found at work on the counter after a load of vegetables were delivered to the retirement home where I work. I don’t know if that has anything to do with his arrival. He would have been squished by others, so I brought him home. I would like to feed him and release him if I can find out what he would like to eat and where to put him. Seems friendly. His antenna mimic my finger movements.
I am here in Southeastern Wisconsin in early November.
Thank you very much!
Signature: J. Evans

Masked Hunter

Dear J. Evans,
You are being awarded the Bug Humanitarian Award and we hope we can convince you not to keep this Masked Hunter as a pet, but to give it free rein in the home where it will no doubt hunt Bed Bugs, Cockroaches, Silverfish and other common household pests.  Each time the Masked Hunter molts, it also sheds its layer of lint, but it will soon begin to pick up fresh debris in its immediate surroundings, making it a very good camouflage artist.  One of our favorite Masked Hunter images is wearing the blue fibers of a carpet.

 

 

Letter 7 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: Cockroach? Cricket? Bedbug?
Location: Southeastern Wisconsin, US
February 24, 2013 2:18 pm
Hi bugman! I found this creature in plain sight in an upstairs room of my house. It wasn’t moving when I spotted it (and I killed it shortly thereafter), so I’m not sure if it crawls or jumps. It does appear to have two small leathery brown wings, but it doesn’t seem like they would be big enough to fly with. At first I thought it was a cricket, but the back legs don’t have that typical thickness. Then I thought it might be a cockroach, but it doesn’t look like any I’ve ever seen. The underside of its abdomen is yellowish in color and ”tented” in shape, with three spots down the middle. The topside of the bug is flat– almost concave– similar to a bedbug (which I dearly hope its not!!!). The bug was also covered in a gray dusty substance when I found it — my husband thinks the stuff is ”scales” of some sort, but I think the bug just might have emerged from a dusty area. Any help you could provid e would greatly put my mind at ease! Thanks so much.
Signature: Lauren

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Hi Lauren,
This is an immature, predatory Assassin Bug known as a Masked Hunter, a common name it got because its sticky exoskeleton attracts dust and helps to camouflage it.  They might bite if carelessly handled, but they will also prey upon cockroaches, bed bugs and other unwanted insects in the home.

Thank you so much for your prompt reply! By sleuthing around a bit on your site after submitting my question, I actually had already come to the conclusion that this mystery bug was, indeed, a Masked Hunter. (And here I thought the bit about this bug looking “dusty” was incidental…) What a great resource you’ve created. Cheers!

Letter 8 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: Mysterious tiny insect covered in moss/dust
Location: Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada
July 27, 2013 9:46 am
Greetings from Montréal, Quebec, Canada.
It is summer right now and we’ve had some very high temperatures and a big wave of humidity last week. As an animator, I am always fascinated by movement, bodies and such.
While at the computer I noticed from the corner of my eye this little guy moving around on the desk. He was quite slow, easy to keep track of and incredibly small.
Here are some approximate measurements:
The actual segment of the core/body was about 1 MM long. From the end of the hind legs to the tip of it’s antennae it was about 2.5 MM long.
I spent two hours trying to figure out what insect this was, as well as studying it’s pattern of movement and it’s behavior. The thing that intrigued me the most was that it was entirely (legs, head, body, etc.) covered in MOSS/DUST (which, intuitively to me, seemed to be somewhat intentional (if that makes any sense)).
What IS this wonderful creature? I must know!
Signature: François

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear François,
This intriguing creature is an immature Masked Hunter, a species of predatory Assassin Bug with a sticky exoskeleton that causes dust, lint, dirt and other material from the Masked Hunter’s surroundings to adhere to its body, creating a very effective means of camouflage.  Masked Hunters might bite a human if carelessly handled.  They are one of the commonest Assassin Bugs found in the home and they seem to have adapted to living indoors where they will feed on cockroaches and other unwanted household pests.  We once posted a photo of a Masked Hunter camouflaged by the blue fibers of the carpet in the home.

Daniel,
Thank you very much for the time you’ve taken to answer my inquiry.
Please know that the information was very appreciated and I am, as of right now, reading up on the bug to satisfy my curiosity.
Thanks again.
Cheers,
FB

Letter 9 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: strange
Location: minneapolis, minnesota
November 15, 2013 5:43 pm
hello i just saw this interesting looking bug on the wall under my dining room window, what is it? As I got closer, it escaped under the window frame.
Sorry for the poor quality photo, i had to use the flash.
Signature: daniel

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Masked Hunter

hello and thank you  the answer. should i do anything about it? i do not like to kill bugs, i usually just kick them out of the house.

Hi again Daniel,
We just provided a short response yesterday as we had personal things we needed to accomplish, and alas, there is never enough time in the day to do everything that needs to get done.  This immature Masked Hunter gets its name because the exoskeleton is sticky and dust and debris adheres to the insects body, effectively camouflaging it in its surroundings.  Masked Hunters are predatory Assassin Bugs and they are also commonly called Bed Bug Hunters because they prey upon that nuisance that has been in the news so much in recent years.  At this time of year in Minnesota, we would encourage you to allow any Masked Hunters you encounter to continue to live indoors where they will prey upon unwanted visitors. Like many other Assassin Bugs, Masked Hunters are capable of biting, so we would encourage you not to try to handle them.  See BugGuide for additional information on Masked Hunters.

Hello Daniel and thank you very much again for your time. After your initial email I started reading about this interesting Masked Hunter and I’m starting to like this fellow. I thought about the time of the year and not putting it in the garage, so I’ll leave it inside. My main concern was just safety, if the bug poses no danger to me or my cats, or the structural integrity of the house, I have no problem seeing him on the wall every now and then. Like I said, I really do not like eliminating bugs for no reason, I, in fact, particularly dislike when people kill a bug just out of habit, some people are so stupid that they even do it outside, on their porch, in their driveway, in their yard, I find that behavior obtuse and ignorant.
thank you and congratulation on your awesome site.
Daniel

Letter 10 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: black six legged bug with antenna
Location: Chicago, IL
December 3, 2013 5:51 pm
Found this bug in my house… have never seen anything like it before
Signature: Thanks

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

This is an immature Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug with a sticky exoskeleton that causes dust, lint, debris and other materials to stick to the surface of the insect, helping to camouflage it against its surroundings.  This is a beneficial, predatory species that will hunt undesirable insects in your home, including Bed Bugs.  Handle with caution as a Masked Hunter will bite if provoked.

Letter 11 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Eastern Canada
February 23, 2014 5:26 pm
I have found these in my basement over the last 6 months both in early fall and winter. I am in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is small white and looks like a crab. When I have see them, I only see one.
Signature: KG

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear KG,
This is an immature Assassin Bug, and it is commonly called a Masked Hunter,
Reduvius personatus , because the sticky surface of the immature insect causes dust and debris to stick to it, masking it in its surroundings.  Masked Hunters might bite if carelessly handled, but they are important predators.  If allowed to remain in the home, they will naturally help to control populations of undesirable creatures like Cockroaches and Bed Bugs.

Letter 12 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: whatttt thee ????
Location: Michigan
May 12, 2014 7:41 pm
I live in michigan I have never seen a bug like this was wondering what it is?
Signature: Cadey W

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear Cadey,
Your first image is of a Masked Hunter, a predatory and beneficial Assassin Bug that might bite if carelessly handled, but it will also help to keep your house free of other problematic insects including blood sucking Bed Bugs.  Masked Hunters have earned their common name because immature individuals have a sticky surface that attracts debris to camouflage or mask it in its surroundings. WE are guessing that your other images are of the same Masked Hunter, unmasked after perhaps a spray from the canned insecticide.  We hope we have convinced you that the Masked Hunter is a beneficial insect that should not be killed unnecessarily, so we are tagging this posting as Unnecessary Carnage.

Masked Hunter, unmasked
Masked Hunter, unmasked

Letter 13 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: What is this bug
Location: Logan, Utah
August 16, 2014 7:42 pm
Found this in our house climbing on my husband.
Signature: Keri

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear Keri,
This is a beneficial Assassin Bug nymph known as a Masked Hunter, a common name derived from the immature insect’s ability to camouflage itself in its surroundings due to its sticky surface that attracts dust and lint.
  Masked Hunters have adapted to cohabitation with humans and they are often found indoors where they will prey upon Bed Bugs and other unwanted household pests.  All good things come with some drawbacks, and in the case of the Masked Hunter, they should be handled with caution, or better yet, not at all, since they will bite in self defense.

Letter 14 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Denver
September 6, 2014 9:11 pm
Spotted this one in our kitchen. He seemed to closely match the color and texture of our light grey wall. Any guesses?
Signature: Chris

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Hi Chris,
Better than a guess, we can assure you with 100% certainty that this is an immature Masked Hunter,
Reduvius personatus, a species of predatory Assassin Bug that has the unique ability to camouflage itself due to the stickiness of its exoskeleton that causes dust and debris to stick to the surface of the insect.  Nearly all reports we have of Masked Hunters are from household interiors, which causes us to believe that they have adapted to a life of cohabitation with humans, and since they will prey upon Bed Bugs and other undesirable household intruders, they are considered beneficial insects, though they might bite if provoked.

Letter 15 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: Carpet Insect
Location: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
January 5, 2015 4:20 pm
Hi there,
I was vacuuming a carpet and I saw this little critter scuttling away. I had to take a picture before it disappeared behind the baseboard, so it’s not the greatest angle. However, hopefully I can give a few details to make up for it.
It was a little smaller than a dime, but roughly that size. It was on a carpet and I thought at first that it was a chewed up piece of gum, if that helps with size determination at all.
It was crab-like and almost purely white, though if it did have any spots on its shell they were grayish in color. I live in Canada near Ottawa, Ontario and it is in the heart of winter, -30 degrees today. Thanks
Signature: ? i dont know what this means.

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

This is a Masked Hunter, a beneficial predator that is frequently found in homes.  Masked Hunters may bite if carelessly handled.

Letter 16 – Masked Hunter

 

Subject: Strange beetle
Location: Just south of Spokane between Spokane-Cheney road and the 195
August 19, 2015 8:16 pm
I’ve never seen a beetle like this before. I found it on the wall in my house. It’s coloring very closely matched the wall, and before I saw it move, I thought it might just be a left over exoskeleton because it looked so porous and the abdomen was very thin. It almost looked as though it had a sprayed on coating.
Signature: Thomas

Masked Hunter
Masked Hunter

Dear Thomas,
This is a Masked Hunter and it is not a beetle.  This immature Assassin Bug has a sticky exoskeleton that attracts dust and debris, effectively camouflaging the Masked Hunter in its surroundings.  Masked Hunters have adapted to life with humans.  They might bite if carelessly handled, but they are effective predators.

Letter 17 – "unmasked" Masked Hunter Nymph

 

Subject: The bug that bit my child
Location: Livingston, Montana
August 12, 2012 12:19 am
I am hoping you can help me to identify this insect that was (presumably) hanging out in my daughter’s pants before she put them on. It left a bit mark on her leg that looks rather like a mosquito bite, with a much larger red mark in center. The bite stung and swelled slightly; but it did not burn, get hot or itch terribly.
If it helps, the clothing was left with other folded laundry on the basement stairs for a couple of days before children were harrassed into putting it away. Hopefully, strange, biting bugs have at least helped the children learn to get clothing taken care of in a prompt fashion!
Thank you for your time!
Signature: Space Princess

Masked Hunter Nymph

Dear Space Princess,
This is the nymph of a Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug.  See this BugGuide image for verification.  The common name refers to the typical appearance of the immature Masked Hunters that are sticky and attract all manner of lint as camouflage.  This individual has no lint to mask it, either because you have a scrupulously clean house, or it is freshly molted.  Winged adult Masked Hunters are a glossy black and lack the masking layer of lint.  Masked Hunters, like many Assassin Bugs, can deliver a painful bite it provoked or threatened, but the bite is not considered dangerous.  Some species of Assassin Bugs, namely Kissing Bugs in the subfamily Triatominae are exceptions.  They suck the blood of warm blooded creatures, including humans, and they can spread pathogens that cause Chagas Disease, but they are more southern in their range.  See BugGuide for more information on Kissing Bugs.  Masked Hunters are also called Masked Bed Bug Hunters and they are considered beneficial as they will rid the home of unwelcome visitors.  Just treat them with respect and handle with extreme caution to avoid a bite.  Picking up used clothing will also ensure that they do not crawl into warm, secluded nooks and crannies.

Letter 18 – Masked Hunter Unmasked

 

Subject: Insect found in house
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
March 26, 2014 7:44 pm
I have never seen an insect such as this before. It is very lethargic so I had no trouble capturing it. It is about a centimetre from nose to end of body. The body seems to be slightly concave when viewed from the side or the top. It cannot climb glass.
Signature: Xerli

Masked Hunter Unmasked
Masked Hunter Unmasked

Dear Xerli,
This is an immature, predatory Assassin Bug that is commonly called a Masked Hunter because the nymphs are sticky and they attract all manner of debris to their bodies, effectively masking them.  Your individual must be newly molted as it has not yet masked itself.  Here is a matching image from BugGuide to support our identification.

Hi Daniel, thanks for the info. I did notice that there is dust stuck to the body, but not a lot. How do they survive a Canadian winter, especially one like we have had in Winnipeg, Manitoba this year? Is this type very common here? I ask because I have not seen one before.
Regards,
Xerli

Hi Xerli,
Most of our reports of Masked Hunters come from homes, not the outdoors, so we can presume that they have adapted to cohabitation with humans.  We suspect that it might have been introduced to your home from some purchase or by hitch-hiking with a visitor.

Hi again, just answered all my own questions! Found the Bug Eric site http://bugeric.blogspot.ca/2013/01/true-bug-tuesday-masked-hunter.html
Xerli

Letter 19 – Unmasked Masked Hunter

 

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Mount Pleasant, NC
July 11, 2016 6:47 am
I was in my home and sat back in a chair when this little guy bit/stung me.
Signature: Kathrine E Morales

Masked Hunter Unmasked
Masked Hunter Unmasked

Dear Kathrine,
This is a Masked Hunter, a species of Assassin Bug that has a sticky exoskeleton that causes dust and debris to adhere to the insect, creating an effective camouflage by masking it to match its surroundings.  Your individual is probably freshly molted and it still needs to be “masked” and here is a matching image from our archives of an unmasked Masked Hunter.  Though reportedly painful, the bite is not serious.  Masked Hunters are predators that will help eliminate many unwanted Household Pests.

Letter 20 – Unmasked Masked Hunter

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Idaho
May 23, 2017 3:36 pm
Found two of these guys. Any idea as to what it can be?
Signature: Andrew

“Unmasked” Masked Hunter

Dear Andrew,
This looks to us like an immature “unmasked” Masked Hunter,
Reduvius personatus, a species that when immature has a sticky exoskeleton that attracts dust and debris, effectively masking the insect in its habitat.  Upon molting, it loses its mask, but soon attracts more dust and debris.  We believe your individual is newly molted, hence “unmasked”.  See this BugGuide image for comparison.  Masked Hunters are beneficial predators that will help rid your home of unwanted critters like cockroaches and bed bugs, but one should exercise caution as they might deliver a painful, but not dangerous, bite.

Authors

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  • 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.

5 thoughts on “Does Masked Hunter Mean Bed Bugs? Uncovering the Connection”

  1. Hi, I found one in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Is it normal for them to be this far north? I have never seen one before.

    Reply
  2. Thanks, found one of these in our driveway last year and one in our living room yesterday, happily released it outside!!!

    Reply
  3. What does a bite look like I found the same bug as space princess I have a few bites 4 of them to be exact I found it in my couch cushion because I got bit and I got up I was looking around and I found it I don’t know if it bit me or if I have something more I need to know ASAP thank you Lisa

    Reply

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