Did you find an assassin bug in your house? Here’s a complete guide on how to get rid of assassin bugs in your home through both organic ways and pesticides.
While it’s good to have assassin bugs in your garden, one cannot say the same about letting these bugs stay in your home.
Not only do these insects bite humans their bite is also quite painful and can cause many unwanted symptoms.
These bugs have grown more common in North America in recent times, with more than 160 species found here.
In case you start finding these bugs regularly in your home, you’ll have to take the necessary steps to get rid of them.
Let’s explore more on this topic and see how you can control and repel assassin bugs.
Are Assassin Bugs Dangerous?
Unfortunately, the assassin bug is a rather dangerous insect infamous for its bite. Among the different assassin bug species, the kissing bug is especially notorious for biting humans on the face!
The kissing bug is a blood-sucking insect whose bit, besides being very painful, also causes itching, swelling, and red bite marks.
You can also contract Chagas disease from the fecal matter of this bug which it leaves behind on the bite wound.
Apart from the fact that the Chagas disease can be life-threatening, there’s no known cure for it either.
This disease impacts the heart and intestinal system in humans. Symptoms of the Chagas disease include body aches, fever, and fatigue.
How To Identify Which Bug You Are Dealing With?
All assassin bugs have a narrow head and elongated mouthparts similar to a sharp beak, using which they stab their prey and feed on their juices.
There are more than 7,000 different assassin bug species in the world. The bug might be gray, black, tan, or brightly colored, depending on the species.
Below, we will show you how to identify the most common outdoor and indoor assassin bugs.
- Wheel bugs: Growing up to 1.5 inches long, these are the biggest assassin bugs. The wheel bug has a spiky cog-wheel-shaped structure on its back, which explains its name. You’ll mostly find wheel bugs outdoors, such as in your garden.
- Ambush bugs: This is another outdoor assassin bug species, known for laying patiently in wait for its prey and ambushing them. The front legs of the ambush bug are similar to that of the praying mantis, while the head is shorter than most other assassin bugs.
- Kissing bugs: As mentioned earlier, the kissing bug is particularly notorious for its bites. This indoor assassin bug grows up to an inch in length. It has a gray body with bright orange spots around the edges.
- Milkweed bugs: The milkweed assassin bug tends to overwinter in homes and has a brightly colored body. This type of assassin bug is relatively small and grows up to less than an inch.
Other species of assassin bugs include the spined assassin bug, bee killers, masked hunters, black corsairs, etc.
How To Prevent Them From Entering Homes?
These bugs have become quite common in South America and Central America and might easily end up in your home. Follow the steps below to prevent them from entering.
- Install screens on your windows and doors.
- Use caulk to seal cracks and crevices on the exterior walls.
- Leave no gaps under your exterior doors.
- You may use pyrethroid sprays to prevent assassin bug infestations.
- Swap your regular light bulbs for bug-safe ones, as these bugs get attracted to bright lights at night.
Besides these, try to keep the perimeter of your home clean and burn any rodent nests to make your property less attractive to assassin bugs.
It’s always a good idea to try out organic pest control methods before you decide to use chemical pesticides.
If you are trying to repel or eliminate assassin bugs, pesticides can be quite unsafe because they will also affect other beneficial insects.
Organic ways to control assassin bug populations include:
- Diatomaceous earth: Diatomaceous earth is a strong, naturally occurring compound effective at killing various pests. Just sprinkle this powdery substance over places frequented by the bugs or near entry points. It will dehydrate and kill the bugs upon contact.
- Vacuuming: One of the simplest and quickest home pest control measures, vacuuming can help you easily deal with assassin bug infestations. Run your vacuum cleaner over cracks and crevices where they might be hiding.
- Fewer lights: If possible, reduce the number of outdoor lights on your property, as bright lights and the pests flying around them attract assassin bugs at night.
Generally, it’s advisable to leave pesticidal control as your last option in case organic means of pest control fail to get rid of the bugs.
Indoor pesticidal treatment is risky, especially if you have children or pets who might accidentally ingest the pesticides.
The same goes for outdoor spaces like your lawn – you’ll have to be careful not to let anyone into treated areas until the pesticide has dried out. Using pesticides in your garden can also kill various beneficial insects.
However, let’s check out what pesticides you can use against assassin bugs if organic methods don’t deliver satisfactory results.
In the garden
Having assassin bugs in your garden isn’t entirely a bad thing since they prey on pests that damage crops and plants.
You can leave them be if it’s one of the non-biting assassin bug species. However, if your garden has a major infestation, especially of the assassin bugs that bite, you can try the following pesticidal treatments:
This granular insecticide is very effective against a variety of lawn insects, including assassin bugs.
You can apply Bifen granules over your yard or garden using a push spreader, a hand spreader, or a broadcaster.
Around 2.3 pounds of Bifen granules is enough per 1000 sq. ft. Two treatments a month apart from each other should usually wipe out the assassin bug infestation.
If you are dealing with a large infestation and can’t find their hiding places, the PT-Phantom is a perfect pesticide to use.
As this pesticide is odorless and doesn’t contain any repellants, assassin bugs would easily get exposed to it by walking over it.
They’ll later end up spreading the pesticide to others inside their nest, thus helping destroy the infestation.
On the perimeter of the house
Perimeter treatment is a great way to prevent infestations. For assassin bugs, bifenthrin-based broad-spectrum residual insecticides are a good choice.
This pesticide uses bifenthrin as its active element and is great at eliminating assassin bugs. One ounce of the pesticide per gallon of water should be enough.
You can use a hose-end sprayer to spray it around your yard and perimeter. However, make sure no one (including pets) enters the treated area for two to four hours.
Inside the house
This is a bit tricky since you have to use a pesticide that won’t endanger the inhabitants, especially kids and pets.
This Fipronil-based pesticide is safe for indoor use and works well against assassin bugs. The foaming nature of Fipro Aerosol makes it particularly effective for treating cracks and crevices.
Once you apply the aerosol, the foam will spread inside the crevice and reach bugs hiding deep inside.
Frequently asked questions
Should you kill assassin bugs?
This depends on whether the bugs pose a threat or nuisance. You should certainly get rid of indoor assassin bugs to save yourself from their painful bites.
As for the ones in your garden, you can let them live as they would help control aphids, mealworms, and other harmful pests.
Why are assassin bugs in my house?
Assassin bugs prefer to live in dark and secluded places during the day, which they often find indoors.
Kissing bugs are also attracted to the bright lights at night, which draws them into houses. You might also find these bugs at home if your house has plenty of insects for them to hunt.
Where do assassin bugs lay their eggs?
Assassin bugs usually lay eggs outdoors, on stems and leaves of trees.
You may also find rows and clusters of assassin bug eggs in sheltered and secluded places, such as under rocks and inside cracks in your home.
Like other bugs of their species, assassin bugs go through an incomplete metamorphosis (egg -> larva -> adult), where they go through several molting stages. They only create one generation in a year.
How long do assassin bugs live?
The length of the assassin bug’s life cycle varies on the stage it is in. Eggs take about two weeks to hatch. Their wingless nymphs emerge and take 6-9 weeks to molt in various stages.
Once they turn into full-grown adults, they can live up to six to ten months. In captivity, these bugs can live up to two years.
If you live in the United States, especially in the states of California, Arizona, Texas, or New Mexico, there’s always a chance that you might find assassin bugs in your home and garden.
Try to identify the species and the scale of infestation before you take up pest control measures. We hope you will use the information above to keep your family and gardens safe. Thank you for reading!
Getting rid of bugs is one of the most common queries that we get, and over the years, we have collected quite a doozy of emails asking how to do this with assassin bugs.
Their reputation is far more dangerous than these bugs actually are, and we hope some of these conversations will help you make up your mind about the same.
Letter 1 – Mating Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin Bugs
photograph of assassin bugs mating; showing male’s sexual organ (?) Hi. I am new to your really fun and interesting-while-informative site. I enjoy photography and was outside three days ago taking pictures of the sunflowers in my front yard here in Phoenix, Arizona. There were two bugs mating (assassin bugs per a 6/16/2006 post on your site that I just noticed last night). It seems as though you can actually see the male’s sexual organ, as the pair were in an almost belly-to-belly position, with one of them actually hanging off the flower (would this be the male?) while the other bug is perched on top. I appreciate the time and effort you spend on your site. I know I have a greater respect and enjoyment of bugs because of it. Thank you. Jo Ann P.S. I was just wondering if you would be interested in seeing the picture. I didn’t want to just send in a picture that may be too graphic for your site, so I am first writing to ask if it is okay. Hi Jo Ann, My, what an impressive image of mating Yellow Bellied Bee Assassins, Apiomerus flaviventris. All of the submissions on BugGuide are also from Arizona. We believe the lower insect in your photo is the male. For the record, we are of the opinion that acts of nature are not too graphic for our website. We do not care, however, to exactly define what an act of nature is. We are also mindful of the parameters of our website’s content, and despite the iguana and lizard page, we confine ourselves to invertebrates, with the exception of collateral inclusion of various quadripeds and bipeds, birds and fish that are seen in relationship to our typical subject matter. Thanks again for an awesome addition to our site, and a new species as well.
Letter 2 – Mating Assassin Bugs
mating Pselliopus Assassin bugs. I thought I would contribute an image for your bug love page. I think these are assassin bugs in the genus pselliopus. please correct me if im wrong though. I hope you like the picture. I love your website!!! Mike D. Hi Mike, No correction is necessary. Your identification Pselliopus Assassin Bugs mating is correct. BugGuide calls them Sycamore Assassin Bugs and mentions two species: “In the southeastern United States, there are two widespread species: P. cinctus and P. barberi. Photographs identified as P. barberi are very orange, without much marking on the scutellum. Others from the same area are very brown, with some markings on the scutellum. It is possible the orange individuals are P. barberi and the more brown ones are P. cinctus . This needs investigation. ” If this is correct, it appears you have photographed Pselliopus barberi.
Letter 3 – Mating Milkweed Assassin Bugs
mating milkweed assassin bugs A couple of weeks ago, I was working in my garden in Charleston ,SC when I was stung by one of these critters. I had seen them around from time to time and was always fascinated by their appearance. They could easily have been “stars” in a Dr. Seuss book! And since I am not a native of the southern US, they were alien to me. The sting was perhaps the worst I have ever experienced in my 60+ years on the earth! When he/she stung me, the immediate pain was intense enough to make me crazy. I swatted at the critter, attached to the inside of my left upper arm, and it STUCK to me through three blows to it. After I dislodged it, I couldn’t find its corpse. But then I found this mating pair after a few days and snapped these shots so I could send them to an entomologist at Clemson University for purposes of identification. These are yours to use as you see fit. Tom Bradford Hi Tom, Thanks for sending in your photo of mating Milkweed Assassin Bugs, Zelus longipes. As a point of clarification, they bite, not sting.
Letter 4 – assassin bug or…? Broad Headed Bug
I’ve just spent a fascinating hour roaming around your site. I’m hoping you can help me identify a bug I photographed on one of my crabapple trees last summer here in Manitoba. It seems similar to some of the assassin bugs, but I haven’t been able to find anything quite like it. I have attached a photo.
Thanks in advance,
Yours is one of the most beautiful photographs we have ever received. I can tell you this. You have an image of a True Bug or Hemipteran. According to Weiping at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, it is probably a Broad Headed Bug, Family Coriscidae. Even though they aren’t true Stink Bugs, they often stink worse than members of that family. I’m sorry we are unable to give you an exact species name, but we will continue to work on it. I found one insect online that seems to resemble your photo. It is Megalotomus quinquespinosus.
Hi Daniel – Thanks for looking at it. I really appreciate the info. Thanks as well for your kind words about the photo on your website. I got a nikon cp990 about a year and a half ago and I’ve been really enjoying its closeup capabilities (If you ever need a few dozen photos of grasshoppers…
Letter 5 – Immature Assassin Bug
I normally can figure out what kind of bug I have, but this one has me stumped. I still have it in the freezer. I am in the middle of getting a new camera with a better close up lens also I am an insect collector with over 250 different species represented as of last count in October. I found this one in Alexandria Virginia on something similar to a Hosta leaf. Although I didn’t look closely at the plant, I suspect that the insect was more or less passing through and the plant it was on has nothing to do with the insect. Please note that this picture is a posed shot with a dead insect. Any help would be appreciated.
Not a beetle at all. Beetles have chewing mandibles and complete metamorphosis. This is an immature Assassin Bug. They are predators with sucking mouthparts. Sorry, cant tell the species.
Letter 6 – Immature Assassin Bug
Dear what’s that bug (Bugman),
My 5 year old son, Tyler, is a bug nut and catches everything he sees( catch and release of course) and knows more about bugs than most kids his age. But this one stumped him and me. If you know what it is I would appreciate it . He would think it’s cool. Thanks a bunch
Javier & Tyler
Hi Javier and Tyler,
We don’t want you to think we are uncool. Your bug looks like an Immature Assassin Bug. Watch out for that mouth as it is designed for piercing and sucking. Assassins prey on harmful insects, but will give an unwary gardener or a careless bug collector a painful bite.
Letter 7 – Immature Assassin Bug
I have no clue what this bug is. It has 8 legs, but two of them it seems to use as antennae, so I don’t think it’s a spider….do you know what it is?
You have a species of immature Assassin Bug. You are very lucky you did not get bitten. Even the nymphs can deliver a painful bite. In addition to its sucking mouthparts, it has six legs like all insects, and two antennae.
Letter 8 – Immature Assassin Bug
I was hoping that you could tell me what kind of bug is in this photo. This bug bite my 10 month
daughter under her chin and we have no idea what kind of insect it is.
This appears to be an immature Assassin Bug. The bite is painful, but not serious.
Letter 9 – Wheel Bug Nymph
Hi bugman, My fiancé and I moved into our new home in December. We’re in a very rural, wooded Central Pennsylvania . All of a sudden, within the past five days…these spiders have emerged and they are EVERYWHERE. They seem to be aggressive, but I haven’t gotten too close. They are all over my plants, flowers, deck , and outbuildings. Do you know what they are? Thanks!!! Jennifer Well Jennifer, They aren’t spiders, but Assassin Bugs. They are immature and will grow wings. They are beneficial in the garden since they ravenously eat many garden pests, however, if mishandled, they will give you a painful bite. Treat them with respect and they will not bother you and your garden will be pest free.
Letter 10 – Milkweed Assassin Bug
What is this Creature?
Hi, found your site this morning and was relieved to see someone cares enough to help folks like me indentify those strange but often beautiful insects. The first picture was taken several days before the next three. However both were found on flowers of same plant. While I think the bug with wings open resembles the other pictures, I am not sure. I did various searches on your site and browsed all beetles, flies, moths and more. I did not feel I found a perfect match. Thanks in advance.
Patti McNeal in Katy, TX
All of your photos are of a Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes. These predatory True Bugs are beneficial in the garden where they help eat many insect pests.
Letter 11 – Australian Assassin Bug
A friend found this lurking around down here in Australia, What is it?
This is some species of Assassin Bug.
Letter 12 – Immature Assassin Bug
can you help with our little green bug?
We found this little green bug in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware, while hiking near the Delaware Bay in early October. My son spotted it on the underside of a tree leaf in a wooded area. We can’t seem to find anything similar in any of our insect identification books. It’s quite small (1/2 inch?), as the thumb in the picture belongs to my 9-year old son. You have an awesome website, and we enjoy the great pictures. Thanks for your help!
This is an immature Assassin Bug. We will need to to more research to try to get an exact species. Nymphs are often impossible to positively identify.
Letter 13 – Milkweed Assassin Bug
Hi buggy guys!
Your site is so cool!! Anyway, my 2 little kids swear these guys sting or bite…something outside our house does. I am not even sure what it is, and I have seen several of these guys (we live in NW FL, *very* close to the gulf) most of them are a sharp orange color, this one is orange and black. I have a huge viney plant over my back porch, and once a larvae of something (i guessed it was this type bugs baby, it was transparent orange-ish?) landed on my arm, it stung like hell!! Then another night, (it was dark, unable to see) something else landed on me, i guess it is the adult version, as it stung like hell 10x over, a minor local reaction, but a major sting…OUCH! Anyway, what the heck is this pretty orange bug, and is this the species that keeps stinging me??? LOL, thanks so much for your help!!
This is a Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes. It is a beneficial insect in the garden as it consumes many garden pests. The downside is that it will bite if provoked. The bite though painful, is not serious.
Letter 14 – Damsel Bug or Assassin Bug??? Thread Legged Assassin Bug
We returned to our Mt Washington Los Angeles offices this evening after going to see the wonderful new David Chronenberg film Eastern Promises, and we found this unusual Hemipteran under the light at the front door. It is not quite an inch long and is covered in dust much like the Masked Hunter. It is winged and has very short raptorial front legs. It flies if disturbed. We managed to get several images from several angles, but fine details are difficult to make out since the insect is covered in fibers. We can’t quite figure out if this is an Assassin Bug or one of the Damsel Bugs in the family Nabidae. Perhaps Eric Eaton can help solve this mystery.
Dainel: Your assassin bug is one of the threadlegged assassins in the genus Stenolemus. I think they are specialized predators on spiders. Did not know they occured there, but will start looking for them now here in Arizona! There are some great images of cleaner Stenolemus on Bugguide.net.
Letter 15 – Wheel Bugs
i found this bug outside my home in rural NC a few weeks ago. What is this bug? Thanks Samantha Dear Samantha, It looks like a type of Assassin Bug, but I can’t tell you the exact species. Any Insectologists out there? Anybody have a clue as to what kind of insect this is? I found it just now on my screen door. Fred Dear Fred, Looks like a hemipteran (true bug) of some type, maybe an assassin bug. I have inquiries out to some experts. I will get back to you. Your photo is amazing.
Letter 16 – Milkweed Assassin Bug: Nymph and Adult
mystery bug #1 Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 6:39 PM Greetings! And thanks in advance for your help with this. I first noticed this sort of bug after Hurricane Ivan blew through the Florida Panhandle a few years back. They are plentiful in the summer, eating my tomatoes, among other things. I noticed this one today. It has a long black proboscis tucked under its head, a bright red narrow body, and has white dots on its back. What a beautiful creature! I hope you can see the long slender black legs and antennae. In the side view, the proboscis is highlighted in the light and looks white, but it is black. the body length is approximately 1 cm, and width about 3 mm. I am curious if this bug changes color throughout its life cycle because I have seen bright orange ones as well. Thanks again- I am looking forward to hearing from you! Miriam Craft Gulf Breeze, Florida Mystery bug #2 Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 6:49 PM Mystery bug #2 Here’s another one I saw this morning. This one is new to me. The picture shows iridescent wings in green and black, a bright orange and black body with long slender black legs and antennae. I got him on my glove, but couldn’t see if he had a proboscis before he flew away. I am also curious as to the life stages of this insect, and corresponding colors. Thanks again! Miriam Craft Gulf Breeze, Florida Hi Miriam, Both of your photos are the same species. You have a flightless nymph and winged adult Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes, a predatory species that is capable of inflicting a painful bit if carelessly handled. Its coloration is quite distinctive and it is found in the Southern states. You may read more about the species on BugGuide.
Letter 17 – Immature Milkweed Assassin Bug assists with housework
assassin bug nymph July 25, 2009 Greetings WTB, This long red bug was an unwelcome surprise in my kitchen! I thought you’d get a kick out of the picture. In looking around, I think it is an assassin bug nymph. Is it a milkweed assassin bug? I ask, because I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to grow milkweed! Julie Savannah, GA Hi Julie, You are right on both counts. This is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug and we do find your photos highly amusing.
Letter 18 – Milkweed Assassin Bug
Halloween Bug? August 7, 2009 I went outside to get the mail when I noticed a weird spider-like bug on a bush next to my house. Upon closer inspection I realized that the bug wasn’t a spider (or at least I don’t think it is). It looked similar to a stink bug with very defined orange and black colors. It was able to fly and when I came close to catching it, the bug flew to another side of the bush! Help me out, what kind of bug is this? Thanks – Joe Wilmington, NC Dear Joe, You are probably lucky you did not capture this Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes, unless you were using a net. The Milkweed Assassin Bug may bit if carelessly handled, and the bite is painful. Your observation that this Milkweed Assassin Bug resembled a Stink Bug is astute as both are in the same insect order, Hemiptera, but in different families. You may follow this link to BugGuide to read more about the Milkweed Assassin Bug.
Letter 19 – Milkweed Assassin Bug
What is this bug? September 17, 2009 It is bright orange usually walks up on it’s legs but can fly too. Has 6 dark black legs, wings, and 2 antennas. Likes to hang out in my garden or on my key lime tree. I have seen it out in the hot summer months here: June, July, August. Carrie Labani Houston, Texas Hi Carrie, Your insect is a beneficial predator known as a Milkweed Assassin Bug that will help keep your plants pest free, though they will also prey upon beneficial pollinating insects. Treat the Milkweed Assassin Bug with respect as they might give a painful bite if carelessly handled.
Letter 20 – Black Corsair
Black insect with raised, red sides; four ridges on top of abdomen March 19, 2010 Last spring I found this insect while out exploring and I am curious as to what it is. I tried my insect field guide but could not identify it. It was found on a rock midmorning in April in Riley County, Kansas. Danielle Riley County, Kansas Hi Danielle, This is an immature True Bug, and guide books rarely depict immature specimens in photographs. We wish your photograph showed the face of the bug. At first we thought this was an Assassin Bug, possibly an immature Bee Assassin in the genus Apiomeris as depicted on BugGuide, but its legs are rather hefty, so we would not discount that it might be a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae. Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton March 28, 2010 Hi, Daniel: Here are a couple of other corrections: The”Immature coreid bug? Or immature assassin bug?” is actually an adult female assassin bug called the “black corsair,” Melanolestes picipes. Adult females have only the vestigial wingpads shown in the nice image. Males are slightly more slender, fully winged, and fly well. The males are often attracted to lights at night. These bugs can deliver a very painful bite if handled or swatted, so brush them off gently if one alights on you. Keep up the great work, Carlos…I mean Daniel:-) LOL! I loved that post from Lisa…. Eric P.S. Hey, next year, when your book is out, we should go in on a table at the Bug Fair and do signings!
Letter 21 – Immature Assassin Bug
Preying Mantis April 26, 2010 It’s becoming spring time around here in Missouri USA. I was coming back to my bedroom when I saw this little guy on my computer monitor. I think it’s a preying mantis but can’t tell forsure. Its about as big as a dime. We have him in a glass at the moment. He tried camaflodging himself with the leaf decorations on the glass. Took a few for me to get a decent picture as it moved a lot. Not fast though. Peaches Kansas CIty Missouri Hi Peaches, There are several different insects that are frequently mistaken for Preying Mantids, and your immature Assassin Bug is one of them. We believe your individual is an Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. Other insects frequently mistaken for Preying Mantids are Mantisflies and Water Scorpions.
Letter 22 – Fanmail and Assassin Bug Comment
Just saying thank you December 18, 2010 9:24 am This morning I was surprised to discover a scary-looking bug lounging on my mug when I went to get my coffee. Normally, my immediate reaction would be to scream in terror, but thanks to you, I grabbed my camera to identify it instead. You guys have changed my entire family’s outlook on bugs in general (and, I now know this one was a milkweed assassin bug nymph, though I don’t know why it wanted coffee). I just wanted to say thanks–and please keep up the good work, because we appreciate you! Signature: Kate Hi Kate, Thanks for your kind email.
Letter 23 – Assassin Bug, Possibly Bloodsucking Conenose
Interesting bug with a very small head Location: Singapore, tropical February 2, 2011 1:58 am Got this bug from the nature reserve in Singapore, a tropical island country. It has a very small head and a long ?nose. Please kindly advise the name of it. Signature: Photoskipper Dear Photoskipper, This is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and it sure looks like the North American Bloodsucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma. According to BugGuide, the genus Triatoma is “Pantropical worldwide.“ BugGuide also notes that the Blood Sucking Conenoses are: “Hematophagous, feeding on blood from tetrapods. Most common hosts are mammalian but avian, reptilian and amphibian hosts are recorded. The most common wild hosts are wood rats (Neotoma) but other common ones include armadillos, opossums and raccoons (possibly also skunks); synanthropic species may feed on livestock (horses, cattle, chickens), pets and humans.” South American Conenoses are vectors for a disease known as Chagas Disease and BugGuide contains this remark: “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan. The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite.” This ECLAT website lists several Asian species. Bloodsucking Conenose Bugs are also known as Kissing Bugs because the nocturnal insects are alleged to bite human victims near the lips according to Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.
Letter 24 – Common Assassin Bug from Australia
Shiny beetle, Australia. Location: Camp Hill, Brisbane, AUS March 26, 2011 3:55 pm Hi there. I was sitting on my balcony on a sunny afternoon at the end of March in Brisbane, Australia when I discovered this beetle clinging to my window screen. I can’t seem to find a picture of this exact beetle anywhere and I would really like to know what it is. Thanks very much for your help! Signature: Heather, Brisbane AUS Hi Heather, This is an Assassin Bug, not a Beetle. The Brisbane Insect Website identifies your insect as a Common Assassin Bug, Pristhesancus plagipennis.
Letter 25 – Immature Assassin Bug
What bug is this? Location: Simpsonville, SC April 9, 2011 11:27 am I have been watching this little guy on our dogwood tree for over a week now. It sometimes moves to a different blossom but stays on this tree otherwise. I have seen molting remains on surrounding surfaces and it is getting noticeable bigger. We are in Simpsonville SC and it is April. It resembles a mantis but does not have a large head like they do. I have at times thought maybe it is a stilt bug, what do you think? thanks Krista Signature: Krista in SC Hi Krista, This is an Assassin Bug nymph, and we believe it may be in the genus Zelus. Assassin Bugs are predators and they are considered to be beneficial in the garden.
Letter 26 – Assassin Bug we believe
Another mystery Location: Hawthorne, CA July 19, 2011 2:23 pm Hi, I also had this guy land on my arm a dew days ago. Can you tell me what it is? Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon Hi Anna, We believe this is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, though we do not recognize the species.
Letter 27 – Immature Sycamore Assassin Bug
Yellow Insect Location: Newton, New Jersey, weeping cherry tree August 20, 2011 10:09 am I am hoping you can identify this little guy. I found him on a weeping cherry tree in our yard, in northern New Jersey (mid August.) He seemed to be the only one there. When I first saw him he appeared to be stalking a small fly, so I am thinking he may be carnivorous? Signature: Debbi Hi Debbi, Your suspicions are correct. This is a predatory Assassin Bug. In our opinion, it is a Sycamore Assassin Bug, most likely Pselliopus cinctus based on BugGuide photos. Thanks, Daniel! I have been trying to find out what this is since I took the picture last week. I tried Googling “yellow bugs” but that got me … exactly nowhere! The tree he was on is also teaming with wasps, yellow jackets and a host of other winged critters, including hummingbirds. Amazing to me that nature would make this little guy so colorful – you’d think that bright color would make it attractive to birds. Thanks again – great website you’ve got here. Debbi
Letter 28 – Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs and the transmission of Chagas Disease
Assassin bug bite September 14, 2011 7:21 pm I looked up assassin bugs on your site and the info was helpful. I just wonder why you do not warn people who get bitten that they require medical testing to make sure they did not get Chaga’s disease. It is a disease that can be fatal if not treated quickly. It is rare in the US only because few people get bitten but about 50% of the bugs carry the disease. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagas_disease http://insectsinthecity.blogspot.com/2009/03/study-on-risks-of-chagas-disease-in.html Signature: Ralph Unger Ralph, Check your facts. Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs are in the genus Tritoma, the genus that carries the pathogens that cause Chagas Disease, and it is only one genus in a large and diverse family of insects. Not even half of the bugs in the genus, much less half of the bugs in the family, carry the pathogen that causes Chagas Disease. The University of Texas at Arlington calls the insect bite the Kiss of Death, an allusion to the common name for these Triatomine Bugs. The members of the genus Triatoma, are commonly called Kissing Bugs in English and by a variety of colorful names in Spanish, and they can spread Chagas Disease. The name Kissing Bug refers to their habit of biting people on or near the lips. Though there are many Assassin Bugs that will bite humans if they are carelessly handled or provoked, they are not interested in sucking blood, and they do not spread Chagas Disease. Here are just a few of our previous postings that mention Chagas Disease: 2011/08/13/immature-kissing-bug/ 2011/04/16/immature-blood-sucking-conenose/ 2011/02/02/assassin-bug-possibly-bloodsucking-conenose/ 2011/02/01/assassin-bug-from-guyana/ 2010/12/15/eastern-bloodsucking-conenose-bug/ 2010/04/05/immature-bloodsucking-conenose-bug/ 2009/07/29/eastern-blood-sucking-conenose-bug-3/ Thank you for the reply. If you do get bitten, There is a good chance that you can get the disease in Texas and the SW of the US. This is a new problem that has recently surfaced because of the immigration from the south into the US. From “Infection of Kissing Bugs with Trypanosoma cruzi, Tucson, Arizona,USA” “To our knowledge, almost no information has been collected during the last half-century on the incidence of infection by T. cruzi in triatomine bugs from Arizona (but see below). We found that 41.5% of the 164 collected bugs, most of which were T. rubida, were infected with T. cruzi, and that 63% of houses or sites where insects were collected had at least 1 specimen infected(in Arizona). … For instance, 51% of triatomines (mostly T. gerstaeckeri) collected from several areas in Texas were infected (n = 241), with many insects found near human dwellings. ..Many cases of Chagas disease in the United States, however, may be overlooked because the early phase of the infection is often asymptomatic (9,16), and health professionals are largely unaware of this disease. In Arizona, humans may be at a greater risk for vectorial transmission of the disease than previously thought because human populations are rapidly expanding into habitats where infected triatomines (20–22) and wild mammalian reservoirs such as packrats, mice, armadillos, raccoons, and opossums (23–27) are plentiful. Chagas disease is actively transmitted in domestic cycles involving dogs in southern Texas (20,28), where >50% of triatomines collected inside or near the homes of persons were found to be infected with T. cruzi (19,20). Studies conducted many decades ago found that triatomines in California, Arizona, and New Mexico were also infected with T. cruzi (22–25,29). Thanks for the followup Ralph. It would also seem possible that a person might acquire Chagas Disease after being bitten in Central America. Once infected, subsequent bites by Kissing Bugs not carrying the pathogen will infect the insects who might then pass the pathogen on to additional humans it bites.
Letter 29 – Immature Assassin Bug
Little Red Six Legs : Location: Cobb County, GA (Powder Springs) December 6, 2011 1:42 am I go hiking often so odd bugs, plants, flowers and animals are something I am usually used to. I often snap pictures of them, and I use them often on my blog and my photo sharing sites. I love photography and being able to capture a moment to last a life time. This one particular bug that I captured the last hike (last week), I can not figure out what it is despite hours and hours or research. This bug was in park that is used for it’s hiking trails. It has many acres and the only buildings are an old barn and an abandoned house. This bugs bright colors instantly attracted me. While I release the copyright to you… I release it only to you. I just want to know what this bug is, what it does. I have been wondering for days whether or not this thing is more harmful or helpful and why I haven’t seen more of them. Signature: Concerned Hiker Dear Concerned Hiker, This is an Assassin Bug nymph, most likely in the genus Zelus. We have taken the liberty of cropping your photo and moving your copyright information to better fit the format of the images on our website. You can remove the copyright completely if you wish. I have more than one image of this creature, if you want them as well, let me know. Are they harmless? What do they do? Thanks, but changing images in posts is time consuming, so we will just let it remain as is.
Letter 30 – Metallic Assassin Bug from South Africa
Night time mystery bug Location: South Africa (Limpopo) April 18, 2012 12:49 am Hello bugman, long time fan of the site as a bit of a bug fanatic, now I have something I cannot identify. I found this crawling around outside our house one night on holiday in the South African bush (Mabolingwe reserve in the Limpopo region). It looks kind of like a true bug of some description but other than that I’ve drawn a blank. This was in late December. The photos could be better as I was attempting to get photos with camera in one hand and flashlight in the other… ps I have a flickr set of bugs from the holiday that may also interest you or your readers: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjy3Z716 Signature: Bogzla Dear Bogzla, Your photos reminded us of a previous submission, and in our attempt to identify what we believed looked like an Assassin Bug, we found the Photographs of South Africa, a site devoted to nature photographs. Your insect was identified as a Metallic Assassin Bug in the genus Glymmatophora. Armed with that information, we continued to search, and located http://www.insecta.co.za/insect/imagegal/hemip/pages/image/imagepage12.html , but the images were of an insect with wings. Returning to the original site, we learned: “The females are wingless and look similar to the nymphs” and “They come out at night to feed, eating ants and possibly millipedes.” We cannot say for certain if this identification is correct because we could not find any additional photos from the genus.
Letter 31 – Immature Assassin Bug from Mexico
Subject: A Curious Fellow Location: México, Jalisco, Guadalajara July 1, 2012 8:37 pm Hello there. First of all, let me say that this is a wonderful site! I just can’t believe when I found it. You make an awesome work doing this 🙂 Thank You a Lot. So, A month ago I found this rare fellow in one plantpot at home. Looks like an ant but moves like a spider… I let him in the yard safe (I don’t touched it, his colors make me thought that he is poisonous) I don’t . What kind of insect is? Signature: Miguel Angel Dear Miguel Angel, This is an Assassin Bug Nymph. You were wise to avoid handling it. Though they are not considered dangerous, many Assassin Bugs will bite if carelessly handled. There is one genus of Assassin Bugs that are considered a health threat to humans. The Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma, also called Kissing Bugs, are found in your area and they spread Chagas Disease. See BugGuide for photos of Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs. Your Assassin Bug nymph is not a member of that genus. We believe it might be a Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph.
Letter 32 – Immature Assassin Bug
Subject: Identification Needed Location: Chassell, MI located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by Lake Superior September 10, 2012 9:51 pm I found this very interesting insect September 3, 2012. I can’t find it in any of my numerous insect field guides. I am attaching an image of it. Signature: Lynn Murphy Hi Lynn, Most guide books only depict adult insects. This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. You can compare your photo to this image on BugGuide. Assassin Bugs are predators and the members of the genus Zelus prowl blossoms and plants for prey. Handle with caution. Assassin Bugs can deliver a painful, though not dangerous bite.
Letter 33 – Assassin Bug squished after photo: Unnecessary Carnage
Location: Escondido, California October 9, 2012 6:02 pm I found this little bugger in the yard the other day. I’ve never seen this kind of critter in my yard before and have a feeling he may be the little ass that is chewing on my plants. If it is helpful, he has green ’bug juice’… I know cause I squished the little shit after he posed for pictures to send you. Thanks in advance for your help in helping me identify this little guy (girl?) Signature: ConnieSue Dear ConnieSue, Thank you for sparing us the photo of the Unnecessary Carnage. This is a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. Thank you so much Daniel! Now I fee bad about squishing this beneficial little guy… will have to apologize to his family. At least you will know for the future.
Letter 34 – Bug of the Month January 2013: Sycamore Assassin Bug
Subject: orange bug with black stripped legs Location: spotsylvania virginia December 31, 2012 10:52 am Found on a window screen. Tried search but no luck. Signature: barbara from virginia Hi Barbara, This is a Sycamore Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus and since it is the second individual from the US that we received in the past two days, we suspect there are other Sycamore Assassin Bugs showing up in the area. The Sycamore Assassin Bug from Tennessee was found in the kitchen sink. You didn’t clarify if your individual was on the inside looking out or the outside looking in. According to BugGuide there are three eastern species and they look quite similar. We don’t feel too confident trying to identify your Sycamore Assassin Bug to the species level. BugGuide states: “Adults hibernate under rocks, bark, sometimes in groups” and there is no mention of them trying to hibernate in homes, but through the years, we have gotten enough reports of them being found indoors in the winter that we can make that assumption. Pselliopus barberi is found in Virginia and according to BugGuide, it “overwinter as adults.” Another eastern species is Pselliopus barberi and according to BugGuide, it is: “Dull orange, marked with black and white, especially legs and antennae (1). Pselliopus cinctus and Pselliopus barberi appear to be the two widespread species in the eastern United States. Dull-orange adults from this area are likely (?) cinctus, and bright orange ones are likely (?) barberi. This guide is being written somewhat provisionally at the species level.” Based on that information, we are guessing that your individual is most likely Pselliopus barberi. BugGuide also indicates: “Adults likely overwinter.” Since it is the last day of the year and the month, it is time to select a Bug of the Month for January, and since we have had two sightings in two days of Sycamore Assassin Bugs, we have decided to feature your submission as Bug of the Month for January 2013. Thank you! He was inside. Stinky when I had to squish hIm. No others sited (yet). Thanks for the clarification Barbara. This particular species of Assassin Bug did not pose a threat to you or your home, however, many Assassin Bugs deliver a painful bite if carelessly handled. We cannot recall any incidents of folks writing to us about being bitten by a Sycamore Assassin Bug.
Letter 35 – Immature Assassin Bug
Subject: Second stick bug? this fall Location: Charlottesville, VA November 25, 2013 3:01 pm A few of these seem to show up in the oddest places in my house every late fall. And its always when its really cold out and I have to wait until mid day , when it warms up a bit, to put them out. Signature: J Dear J, This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. Assassin Bugs are predators, and most Assassin Bugs, with the exception of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs, are considered harmless, though they will bite if provoked. Zelus Assassin Bugs tend to bite more often than most Assassin Bugs, but the bite, though painful, is considered harmless.
Letter 36 – Immature Milkweed Assassin Bug
Subject: red bug, white spots, black legs Location: Houston, TX April 14, 2014 8:57 pm just sent a note – have to correct it. This was found on Jan 11, 2014 in Houston. And I didn’t upload all the shots Signature: Tom Lawson Hi Tom, This is a beneficial, predatory Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph, Zelus longipes, and it should be handled with caution as they are known to bite. The bite is not considered dangerous, but it can be painful. Thanks so much – I’ll be caredul!
Letter 37 – Freshly Molted Assassin Bug
Subject: ID for Red bug Location: Bowie, MD May 21, 2014 5:36 pm I found this little guy in Bowie, MD, yesterday. Any idea what it is? Thanks. Signature: Huh Dear Huh, This appears to be a freshly molted Assassin Bug which will soon darken in color as its new exoskeleton hardens. It might be a Black Corsair, which you may see pictured on BugGuide. Many thanks. Annapolis, MD My Birding Blog http://hughvandervoort.com/wordpress/
Letter 38 – Four Spurred Assassin Bug
Subject: a hidden curiosity Location: Playa del Rey, California August 1, 2014 2:17 pm Dear BugMan: thank you for your wonderful site! I often refer to it for bug ID. I live in Southern California, very close to the beach, so the bugs I get are few and far between but when I do see bugs, they are often unusual (to me). I found this strange-looking bug hiding among the tall, tall stalks of my Egyptian Papyrus plants. It was just relaxing there, which startled me because the papyrus plant rarely ever has bugs on it. As I searched your site, I wondered if it was another species of Western Conifer Seed bug, but it looks slightly thinner with longer, wispy antennae. When you get the opportunity, I’d appreciate a positive ID on this character so that I can decide whether to shoo it away, or welcome it as a beneficial insect. Thank you in advance! Signature: befuddled by the beach Dear befuddled by the beach, In our opinion, this looks more like a predatory Assassin Bug than a Leaf Footed Bug. Additionally, the front legs look especially developed and raptorial. It really resembles this image of Zelus tetracanthus that is pictured on BugGuide. According to BugGuide, it is known as the Four Spurred Assassin Bug. it looks exactly like the one on your site! thanks BugMan!! -Grant
Letter 39 – Immature Sycamore Assassin Bug
Subject: what is this? Location: Buford Georgia August 2, 2014 5:51 pm I saw this in a pine tree. Signature: mickey Dear Mickey, This is an immature Sycamore Assassin Bug. Adult Sycamore Assassin Bugs have wings.
Letter 40 – Immature Assassin Bug
Subject: No idea. Location: Tucson, AZ December 10, 2014 1:16 pm I took a picture of this strange bug I’ve never seen before, and was wondering if you had any clue to what it might be. Signature: Jeremiah Dear Jeremiah, This is an immature predatory Assassin Bug, but we are uncertain of the species.
Letter 41 – Corsair Assassin Bug
Subject: Unknown bug Location: central Tucson October 2, 2015 8:30 am I found this bug in my home and I’ve never seen a bug like this before. What bug is this? Thank you. Signature: Julie V Dear Julie, This is a Corsair Assassin Bug in the genus Rasahus, and you should handle it with caution as it is one of the genera of Assassin Bugs that seems most inclined to bite humans if handled carelessly.
Letter 42 – Common Assassin Bug from Australia
Subject: unidentified insect… Location: Sydney October 11, 2015 11:47 pm Hi There Bugman! I came across this creepy looking bug that’s guarding my doorway…. So what better to do than take a photo. I’ve never seen anything like it! Signature: Clare Dear Clare, This is a predatory Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and considering that the Brisbane Insect site identifies Pristhesancus plagipennis as the Common Assassin Bug, we presume it is not a rare insect.
Letter 43 – Immature Milkweed Assassin Bug
Subject: Red & black bug Location: Lake Jackson Tx March 6, 2016 6:46 am Dear Bugman I was curious about this red & black bug I’ve seen several times here on the Texas Gulf Coast, will it hurt my plants & does it bite? Thanks in advance! Signature: Rae Nichols Dear Rae, This is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes, a predatory species that will help to eliminate harmful pests from your garden. Though they are not aggressive toward humans, you may encounter a bite if you carelessly handle an Assassin Bug. Thank you so much! I will be sure to leave it alone & not touch it Thank you!! Rae
Letter 44 – Cicada Metamorphosis and Assassin Bug
Subject: Thought you might enjoy hangin out w/ this guy 😉 Location: Cahokia, IL August 27, 2016 10:32 pm Caught this little guy comin out of his shell. Looks like he’s already found a friend to hang with. Signature: Jokerswylde Dear Jokerswylde, Thanks for sending us your image of the metamorphosis of an Annual Cicada. The observer is a predatory Assassin Bug. Even though insects are especially vulnerable during and immediately after metamorphosis, we don’t believe there is any threat from the Assassin Bug which would normally prey upon smaller creatures. Interestingly, both the Cicada and the Assassin Bug are classified together in the same insect order Hemiptera. So this Cicada has a hired Assassin (Bug) for a bodyguard? lol Funnily enough, I was so focused on the Cicada that I didn’t even notice the other little guy when I first took the picture. & when I looked at the picture later, to post it, I thought it was just a common green grasshopper.
Letter 45 – Immature Assassin Bug from Malaysia
Subject: New Bug Location: Penang, Malaysia November 24, 2016 6:07 am Hey Bugman, Thanks for all your help! Here’s another bug I’ve found but can’t identify. The jungles of Malaysia have so many different types of bugs! Thanks! Signature: Jon Dear Jon, This is an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, and we feel very confident it is a predatory Assassin Bug nymph because of its resemblance to this North American species.
Letter 46 – Assassin Bugs from Ecuador, one with Fungus Infection
Subject: Two insects and Cordyceps Location: Ecuador, Yasuni adjacent to Napo River February 4, 2017 8:34 am During January 2017 I was in the Yasuni area, adjacent to the Napo River of Ecuador. During the hours of darkness I was photographing the very small insect on the top of the plant that had been infected by the cordyceps fungus. When along flew the green insect and settled beside the dead one. Body size of the insect is about 2cm or 3/4 of an inch. Is the green insect an assassin bug and what type? Do you think both insects are the same? There had been a lot of rain at the time I was there. It was very hot and humid and low altitude. Signature: Moira Dear Moira, Both insects in your stunning image are Assassin Bugs. The one with the Fungus Infection is a winged adult and the other an immature, wingless nymph, but we cannot state for certain that they are the same species, but we believe that is a good possibility. You indicated that the living one “flew” and we suspect you stated that incorrectly as it has no wings. Again, you image is positively stunning.
Letter 47 – Immature Milkweed Assassin Bug
Subject: Reb Bug with Long Black Leggs Location: Montgomery, Alabama February 9, 2017 6:26 am I found this bug near grass in Montgomery, Alabama in February, but the weather has been spring-like. Its body was about 3/4 of an inch. Do you know what it is? Thank you! Signature: Sheila Dear Sheila, This is an immature, beneficial, predatory Milkweed Assassin Bug. Though they prey upon many plant feeding insects in the garden, they have been reported to deliver a painful bite if carelessly handled. Immature nymphs are wingless while adults have wings and can fly. Thank you! Such a fast reply. Sheila Mehta, Ph.D.
Letter 48 – Jagged Assassin Bug
Subject: squat yellow bug w tiny praying mantis legs Geographic location of the bug:Madison, Wisconsin Date: 09/03/2017 Time: 02:59 PM EDT found this little dude crawling on my picnic blanket and I’ve never seen anything like it. he has wings, but was happy to just crawl around my hands for several minutes before he decided to fly away. How you want your letter signed: kk Dear kk, The magenta knit background beautifully contrasts the chartreuse color of your Jagged Ambush Bug, quite unlike the typical camouflage it enjoys when resting on many blossoms. The Jagged Ambush Bug is a predator that uses its raptorial front legs to capture prey much as a Preying Mantis hunts.
Letter 49 – Assassin Bug rescued from Spider Web
Subject: What is this guy? Location: northern California September 10, 2017 10:25 am I would very much like this little guy identified! I found him caught in some old spider web and rescued him. He seems quite thankful 🙂 I initially thought he was a stick or stilt bug, but I’m not positive. Signature: (is this for my name?) Rayne Dear Rayne, This is an Assassin Bug and we believe it is in the genus Zelus, a group of insects that is often a subject of an inquiry to our site when a person has received a painful bite through careless handling or an accidental encounter. Though not considered dangerous, the bite is reported to be quite painful. You are lucky your kind deed did not result in a bite, but at any rate, we are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award.
Letter 50 – Immature Sycamore Assassin Bug
Subject: What is this Geographic location of the bug: Tucson, AZ, midtown backyard Date: 10/08/2017 Time: 12:38 PM EDT Found this sitting on a sweet potato vine on my patio. It’s tiny, less than 1/4 inch long. Moves slowly. Was spotted at 9:20 am. How you want your letter signed: Carla Dear Carla, This looks to us like an immature Sycamore Assassin Bug, a predatory species that will help keep your sweet potato vine free of insect pests. Thank you so much for taking the time to identify my bug… And so quickly! Glad to know he’s a beneficial! Love the site, keep up the good work! Thank you again!
Letter 51 – Assassin Bug from Peru
Subject: Reduviidae from Perú Geographic location of the bug: Amazon jungle of Perù Date: 11/14/2017 Time: 02:35 PM EDT Sorry I can’t remember the right place. All I can say for sure is that it was in Amazon jungle of Perú, and in year 2009. Thanks for helping. How you want your letter signed: Ferran Lizana Dear Ferran, We love your gorgeous images of an orange legged Assassin Bug on an analogously colored handwoven background, but we had to color correct the cyan cast due to the shady lighting conditions. We are going to post before researching Insetologia to try to determine an identity. Great, Daniel!! I think it’s probably a Montina confusa speciment. It looks almost identical. Thank you very much for your help!! Ferran
Letter 52 – Assassin Bug from Saudi Arabia
Subject: bug Geographic location of the bug: saudi arabia Date: 12/14/2017 Time: 08:58 PM EDT what bug is this How you want your letter signed: simple Dear simple, This is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae. It reminds us of the members of the genus Acanthaspis that are pictured on Discover Life.
Letter 53 – Common Assassin Bug from Australia
Subject: Unknown beetle Geographic location of the bug: Buderim, Queensland, Australia Date: 12/29/2017 Time: 01:15 AM EDT Can you identify this beetle please ? How you want your letter signed: Steve Ormerod Dear Steve, This is not a Beetle. It is an Assassin Bug and we believe we have correctly identified it as a Common Assassin Bug, Pristhesancus plagipennis, thanks to images posted to the Brisbane Insect site where it states: “As all other assassin bugs, Common Assassin Bugs have the long head with powerful proboscis. They use the powerful proboscis to puncture their prey. Their legs are long so that they have long attack distance. Adult bugs are brown in colour with transparent wings. Nymphs are dark brown to black with brightly orange abdomens.” We would advise you not to attempt to handle Assassin Bugs. They might bite. Dear Daniel, Many thanks for your prompt reply and your identification of this insect. It is very much appreciated. Kind regards, Steve Ormerod
Letter 54 – Assassin Bug from Tanzania
Subject: beetle Tanzania Geographic location of the bug: West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Date: 01/14/2018 Time: 05:45 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Could you please identify this beetle How you want your letter signed: Doug Dear Doug, This is NOT a Beetle. It is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and we are posting it as unidentified while we attempt to get you a more specific identification. Subject: Assassin bug? Geographic location of the bug: West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Date: 01/19/2018 Time: 08:17 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: I’ve been unable to identify this insect beyond the likelihood that it is an assassin bug. This specimen has rather thick muscular legs with distinctive orange fore and mid legs and the rest of the body and hind legs completely black. Approximate body length = 2.5 cm. Someone suggested this to be in the genus Phonergates but haven’t found any representatives of this genus that look remotely like this one. How you want your letter signed: DCavener Dear DCavener, Last week Doug submitted this exact image to our site and asked to have the beetle identified. We responded it was an Assassin Bug, not a Beetle, but we still have not located a genus or species name. Oops yes, sorry about that! Someone else speculates that this is Phonergates bicoloripes but I can’t find images online or even a detailed description of this species. Is this something you could help with? The individual from the genus pictured on Discover Life does look similar.
Letter 55 – Bark Assassin Bug
Subject: insect id Geographic location of the bug: Batesville, AR Date: 08/19/2018 Time: 02:03 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: A friend posted this photo on Facebook. Wonders what it is. How you want your letter signed: Doesn’t matter The red color on your Bark Assassin Bug, Microtomus purcis, is much more pronounced than the more commonly seen white color variation. This BugGuide image is of a red individual. Beetles in the Bush calls it “North America’s most beautiful assassin bug” and also states: “One would think such a conspicuously marked assassin bug with a bite powerfully painful enough to back up its apparent warning coloration could brazenly venture out during the day with little to fear. To the contrary, this species seems best known for its habit of hiding under bark during the day and venturing out only at night, during which time it is sometimes attracted to lights (Slater & Baranowski 1978, Eaton & Kaufman 2007).”
Letter 56 – Bark Assassin Bug
Subject: A colorful red, black, and white bug Geographic location of the bug: North Carolina Date: 08/18/2018 Time: 11:27 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I found a very colorful dead insect the other day which I wasn’t able to identify (much to my chagrin, since it broke my bug-googling streak). I originally was thinking of it as a beetle, but as you can see, it doesn’t seem to have the wing-cases, just an ordinary pair of wings, overlapped on each other to boot. Any idea what this could be? Thanks! How you want your letter signed: A. Dear A, We just finished posting an image of an even redder Bark Assassin Bug, Microtomus purcis.
Letter 57 – Bug of the Month December 2018: Immature Assassin Bug
Subject: Bug Geographic location of the bug: Oklahoma, USA Date: 11/30/2018 Time: 03:13 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Found this bug on my head after doing yard work yesterday. What is it, can it hurt me. Thought it was a katydid at first but don’t think it was. How you want your letter signed: Sammie B Dear Sammie, This is an immature Assassin Bug, probably in the genus Zelus. This is a genus that is prone to biting folks when the insects are carelessly handled or accidentally encountered, and you are lucky you did not encounter a painful bite. Though painful, the bite is not considered dangerous. Because of your timing, we have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for December 2018.
Letter 58 – Bark Assassin Bug
Subject: Stumped Geographic location of the bug: Southwest Mtns of VA near Charlottesville Date: 08/25/2021 Time: 08:58 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Can you help us ID this beautiful bug? We found it on our porch today—a hot and humid August morning in the Southwest Mountains of Virginia. The bug was about 1.5″ long. Thanks How you want your letter signed: Amber Dear Amber, In searching for links to identify your Assassin Bug, we stumbles upon Beetles in the Bush where it is identified as: “what must be North America’s most beautiful assassin bug, Microtomus purcis.” The site also states: “Sometimes called the “bark assassin bug”, this species is not quite as large as the better known “wheel bug” (Arilus cristatus) but makes up this by its spectacular coloration—black with the base of the wings prominently marked creamy-white and parts of the abdomen and hind legs bright red. One would think such a conspicuously marked assassin bug with a bite powerfully painful enough to back up its apparent warning coloration could brazenly venture out during the day with little to fear. To the contrary, this species seems best known for its habit of hiding under bark during the day and venturing out only at night, during which time it is sometimes attracted to lights (Slater & Baranowski 1978, Eaton & Kaufman 2007). A majority of BugGuide photos of the species also mention finding them under bark or apparently attracted to lights.¹”
Letter 59 – Immature Assassin Bug
Subject: Immature walkingstick? Geographic location of the bug: Northwestern Wisconsin Date: 09/27/2021 Time: 10:45 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: I found this little guy on a plant I recently brought back inside because of cool weather. Isn’t it a little late in the year for new hatches? How you want your letter signed: Jennifer Dear Jennifer, This is not a Walkingstick. It is an immature, predatory Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. Handle with caution. They bite and the bite is allegedly painful, but not considered dangerous.
Letter 60 – Immature Assassin Bug in Mexico
Subject: What’s this bug? Geographic location of the bug: Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, Mexico Date: 10/24/2021 Time: 07:13 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Hi – this cute little bug appeared on my husband’s hand. After taking a few photos, he gently relocated it. Is this a species of assassin bug? How you want your letter signed: Julie Dear Julie, This is indeed an immature Assassin Bug and we believe it is in the genus Zelus. Though not considered dangerous, Assassin Bugs in the genus Zelus will bite if carelessly handled. Thank you very much! My husband gently relocated it to the bushes.