Orange W/Black Legs
Location: Houston, TX
August 3, 2011 11:42 am
Love you site! Just am still unsure of what I am looking at, or able to properly identify it.
This picture is of a ’medium’ sized insect, about 3/4” long. I have seen them smaller and even one about 1 1/4 long.
This picture was taken on 3 August, 2011 in my pepper garden on a leaf of a Serrano Pepper plant.
Kindly assist in it’s proper identification.
Also, you can indeed keep the image. I give full rights to you to use it any way you want, if you want.
Best Regards,
Signature: Kevin

Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

immature milkweed assassin bug

Thank you greatly Daniel Marlos!
Now I will explore the pros/cons of having them in the garden. There are not too many that I have seen. I am in the garden at least twice a day. I do not mess with them because they do not seem to want anything to do with me. If one is on a plant where I am about to cut a pepper, it just moves along and goes under a leaf, out of sight to be left alone. So that is what I do.
A couple of days ago, I was cutting a batch of peppers, putting them in my shorts pocket, cargo shorts, so large pockets, and when I got in the house and piled the peppers on the counter, out came a small one of these insects onto the counter. Apparently it hitched a ride on a pepper, in my pocket, for how long I do not know, at least 10-15 minutes, and was no worse for wear. I urged it onto a piece of paper and out the door it went. I am sure the story it tells it’s buds is just as bizarre as mine!
I am more careful not to put anymore insects in my pocket!
Have a Good One Daniel, and thanks again.

Hi Kevin,
Your response to our extremely brief identification is so enthusiastic, and the anecdotal information has provided such a personal perspective on your interactions with the Milkweed Assassin Bugs in your yard that we are feeling guilty that we have shortchanged you with our original response.  You should take care not to handle the Milkweed Assassin Bugs,
Zelus longipes, because they are perfectly capable of delivering a painful bite.  We just located this Galveston County Master Gardeners “Beneficials in the Garden” web page devoted to the Milkweed Assassin Bug.  It has some very helpful information including this excerpt:  “Although most assassin bugs are slow-moving and non-aggressive, they will use their rostrum in self-defense if handled carelessly. Such bites may be rather painful to humans because the bugs inject the same salivary secretion used to dissolve the tissues of their prey. This results in the death of a small area of cells at the site of the bite. The symptoms are an intense burning sensation, often followed by a small, itchy lump that may persist for several days. However, no true toxin is involved so it is rare for the reaction to last long or to extend beyond the site of the bite. Some bites occur when the bugs are purposely handled out of curiosity, but most happen through accidental contact while gardening or working in the open. The sharp pain associated with assassin bug bites is usually enhanced by the surprise accompanying the experience.  The beneficial qualities of assassin bugs far outweigh their negative potential, and learning to get along with these indispensable predators is in our own best interest.”

Good Morning,
Indeed. Great information. As soon as I read your original email identifying the M.A.B., I located the exact site. Full of information for the varied species in our area. I read for hours and was fascinated with abundance of beneficial insects and lizards in this area.
We actually live on the outskirts of Houston/Harris County, and Galveston County. Near the Johnson Space Center, so the website was right on for what I needed.
Daniel, don’t feel guilty. Your response was just fine. You answered my question with great accuracy and it lead me on the proper path to explore the correct information and for this I thank you!
Also thank you for the follow up email. It is funny that you found the exact site! Fate can be a good thing at times!
While I am far from having the study of anEntomologist, I have always taught my children to respect nature and to study and be aware of their environment. We all share this planet together and indeed, knowledge is a good thing.
No need to be afraid of what we do not know!
Best Regards Daniel,

Location: Texas

5 Responses to Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymph

  1. Amber says:

    Wow! I saw the orange bug crawling along my wall the other day. I am a bit embarrassed to say how long I searched for it (googling “orange bug, six legs”), but I finally found it! And funny enough, I live in the Houston area, as well. Maybe they are common here? The first I have seen so far. . .anyway, thank you for the identification 🙂

  2. Larry Adams says:

    I wanted to stop and say thank you for helping me figure out what this bug is. I have been spraying them with neem oil trying to get rid of them because I didn’t know they were a beneficial insect. Now that I know, I will just let them do their thing. Thanks again from College Station, Texas

  3. Earl montgomery says:

    I have several hundred milk weed plants, in various parts of my back yard. Are these insects going to be problems for the monark catapillers on these plants. Is this just something to put up with. This is our 4th year trying to have a butterfly garden but have noticed more of these bugs this season. We have released several hundred monark over the years and had thought these to be harmless to the monark Is there any method for controls. Thanks Earl from Bossier City, La.

    • bugman says:

      Milkweed Assassin Bugs might prey on Monarch Caterpillars when they are young, but we cannot say for certain.

  4. Mae C Hicks says:

    I live in GA and had bugs like this all over my eggplant through most of the summer. I was seriously creeped out by them but they didn’t seem to affect the plant, so I put off trying to get rid of them. Decision was confirmed when I saw one of them eating some other bug. They all disappeared spontaneously around early to mid August. Now that I know they’re “good bugs”, is there a way to encourage them to come back? Also, I have a whitefly infestation and am looking for food-safe solutions.

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