Leafhopper Assassin Bug

Subject: Minding our Milkweed Mystery
Location: Southern California
August 6, 2016 5:46 pm
Hi, Bugman! We’ve been growing milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. It went well for about a month. Recently, the milkweed has been overrun by new insects, and the monarchs have stopped coming by. The new insects look a lot like milkweed bugs, but every single resource I can find insists that milkweed bugs, mature and immature, are black. The bugs on our milkweed are a very light brown. Their legs almost look translucent. Do you think it’s possible that they’re simply a variety of milkweed bug? Or are milkweed bugs absolutely always black–which would make these bugs imposters?
Signature: Rose

Leafhopper Assassin Bug
Leafhopper Assassin Bug

Dear Rose,
This looks to us to be a Leafhopper Assassin Bug,
Zelus renardii, and according to BugGuide:  “Generalist predator (despite its common name suggesting host specificity).”  The good news is that it will likely prey on Oleander Aphids that often trouble milkweed in Southern California, but we would not rule out that it might also prey upon young Monarch caterpillars.  You mentioned attracting Monarch butterflies which will take nectar from many different flowers, however, the real benefit to growing milkweed in the garden is that it is the only plant upon which Monarch Caterpillars will feed.

Got it! Thank you so much for your help! Since they appear to be able to survive on other plants, we’re thinking we may pick some of them off and give them to neighbors who have an overabundance of aphids of their hands. You’ve been a great help!
Rose

Be careful Rose.  They will bite if carelessly handled.

2 thoughts on “Leafhopper Assassin Bug”

  1. I have found two of these bugs in my house in the past few days. Should I be worried? I live in Texas. I have two small dogs and I don’t want them or my children to be bitten. I guess they are good outside but I definitely don’t want them in my house!!!

    What should I do?

    Reply
  2. I have found two of these bugs in my house in the past few days. Should I be worried? I live in Texas. I have two small dogs and I don’t want them or my children to be bitten. I guess they are good outside but I definitely don’t want them in my house!!!

    What should I do?

    Reply

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