Assassin bugs can bite humans, so it is important to understand what these bugs are all about. For example, where do assassin bugs live? What do they eat? Let’s find out the answers to these questions below.
The assassin bug is one of those garden pests that you wouldn’t want indoors at any cost. These bugs can be a menace and a gardener’s friend at the same time.
While these beneficial insects help keep gardens free of aphids and other pests, some of them are notorious for biting humans, and one in particular (the kissing bug) on the face!
Read on to learn how and where you can find these insects in and around your home.
What are They?
Wheel bugs, kissing bugs, and milkweed assassins are among the common assassin bugs you will find in North America.
You can easily identify an assassin bug thanks to its unique appearance. These insects have dark gray or tan bodies with spiky bumps on their backs.
Depending on the species, the bug may also have a longer bump under its abdomen and red dots on the sides.
Some assassin bug species are more colorful, which helps them camouflage. When fully grown, most assassin bugs are between 0.5 to 0.75 inches long. They have a shield-shaped body and a curved straw-like proboscis.
Where Do They Live?
Although assassin bugs weren’t as common in North America earlier, you can now find plenty of them in the southern two-thirds of the country.
As with many other species, global warming has forced assassin bugs to spread to what were earlier colder regions.
These bugs are particularly abundant in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Besides the US, you can also find them in South America and Latin America.
It’s hard to pinpoint a particular assassin bug habitat, for these predatory insects can thrive in a variety of environments. These range from dense forests and mountains to homes and chicken coops!
As long as you live in one of the regions where these bugs are found, you can never rule out the chance of one of them ending up in your mattress.
Do They Bite?
It’s mostly the painful bites of the assassin bug that make this otherwise beneficial insect an unpleasant guest.
Some assassin bugs, like the kissing bug, bite humans and other vertebrae to suck blood using their proboscis.
They bite repeatedly and usually target areas around the eyes or the lips. However, you should note that most species of assassin bugs usually don’t bite humans.
Besides being painful, the bite of an assassin bug can give rise to symptoms like hives, breathing difficulties, swelling, etc., if you are allergic.
If you find an assassin bug in your home, you should handle it carefully to avoid getting bitten.
Do They Spread Disease?
Yes, and this is yet another reason why you should stay clear of assassin bugs and keep them out of your home.
Apart from the symptoms caused by its bite, the kissing bug is a spreader of the Chagas disease to humans.
The virus that causes this disease hides in the fecal matter of these bugs. It is a potentially life-threatening parasitic disease with symptoms like body aches, fever, headache, and fatigue.
What makes it worse is the fact that we don’t have a cure or vaccine for Chagas disease yet – you will have to live with it once infected.
Are They Poisonous?
Yes, assassin bugs produce two different venoms, each of which contains more than 100 different toxins. It uses one of these venoms while hunting and feeding.
Like the venom of many other predatory insects, it paralyzes the prey and liquefies its insides. The bug uses another venom to defend itself from predators.
However, this venom is not potent enough to affect humans if you get bitten, so you don’t have to be worried about that.
Are They Beneficial?
Despite their tendency to bite humans, assassin bugs are beneficial insects that can help keep your garden free of pests.
They are a generalist predator species that hunt a vast range of insects for feeding, including larvae and nymphs of leaf beetles, true bugs and sawflies, and caterpillars.
Assassin bugs are indiscriminate eaters, so they also end up eating other beneficial bugs, which is counterproductive.
If you have a garden, keeping some assassin bugs there might be a good idea, but don’t let their population grow too large.
If you find one or two assassin bugs in your home, just capture them and release them out in your garden.
Do They Fly?
Yes, assassin bugs are winged insects capable of flying. However, most assassin bug species are rather bad fliers.
The bee assassin bug is an exception to this and is quite good at flying. This bug happens to be a particularly successful predator, thanks to the sticky hairs on its front legs, which help it grab its prey better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do assassin bugs like to live?
Assassin bugs are hardy insects capable of thriving even in harsh environments. However, they are more predominant in tropical regions.
Indoors, they love to stay in cold and dark places during the day. Some bugs, like the kissing bug, find mattresses and bed linens to be a perfect hideout.
What are assassin bugs attracted to?
Various flowers like marigolds, tansy, and dill tend to attract assassin bugs. This is something you can utilize to draw assassin bugs to your garden.
These bugs are also drawn to bright lights in houses at night, which is how they end up indoors.
How do you repel assassin bugs?
Seal up cracks and crevices to deny the bugs entry points. You can also install screens over your doors and windows and use bug-free light bulbs at home.
Synthetic pyrethroid sprays are effective at repelling assassin bugs, but using pesticides indoors might be unsafe.
What eats an assassin bug?
While the assassin bug is a powerful and skilled predator, there’s no dearth of predators that prey on assassin bugs either.
Praying mantises, rodents, spiders, and birds are some of them. Assassin bug nymphs often get eaten up by the larger assassin bugs too.
If you live in American states such as Texas, California or Arizona, you have a good chance of finding a spined assassin bug on your property. If it’s in your home, carefully remove it and put it out in your garden.
Both wingless nymphs and full-grown assassin bugs are beneficial insects, so you can use both of them in your garden to control other pests.
However, make sure not to let their population grow too much. Thank you for reading!
In the past, many readers have asked is worried questions about where assassin bugs live and whether they can come inside our homes. Some were innocuous, a few very perceptive, and some were bordering on hilarious!
Do read through some of these emails, and judge for yourself how big a menace these bugs are!
Letter 1 – Millipede Assassin Bugs from South Africa
I have noticed these assasin bugs feasting on a milipede on my farm in Pretoria ,South Africa . We live on a rocky outcrop of the Magalies mountain range at 1400m (4500ft)above mean sea level. The fotos were taken on the 5th January 2008 (mid summer) around 10AM with a Canon EOS 400D camera. I thought you may be interested in these fotos.
Arend van de Wetering
Thanks for providing us with additional photo documentation of the Millipede Assassin Bugs, Ectrichodia crux, communally feeding on a large Millipede.
Letter 2 – Assassin Bug
Specimen I am trying to identify
Could you help me identify this specimen.
This is some species of Assassin Bug, Family Reduviidae, probably the genus Zelus.
Letter 3 – Immature Assassin Bug
what the heck is this thing?
I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, right next to the woods, and I found this weird-looking insect that I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not a spider since it only has 6 legs, but what the heck is it?
Nice photo of an Immature Assassin Bug.
Letter 4 – Assassin Bug!
I am trying to figure out what this bug is – I think its all the same bug but in different stages of life cycle. I was bitten by one on my thumb. It burned really bad when stung and has been swollen, red and itchy for 2 days now. Any help would be appreciated. CHECK, THERE ARE TWO TYPES, ONE HAS BLACK WINGS AND THE SECOND IS GROWING WINGS.
Austin , Texas
Your photos are stunning. You have been bitten by an Assassin Bug, Family Reduviidae, which will inflict a painful bite if carelessly handled. Most species are predaceous on other insects. They have piercing/sucking mouthparts which are very visible in your photos. Sorry I cannot give you an exact species name, but it appears you have a nymph and adult of the same species. It is probably a Zelus species.
Thanks. I think I must be extra allergic because the itching is pretty bad. Finally the swelling is going down. Now I know to stay pretty far away from those guys.
Letter 5 – Immature Assassin Bug
Hi bugman. I love the pictures on your site. Keep up the great work. Well, here is my addition for your site. I live in Atlanta, GA area and found this guy walking around a spider web like he owned it. However, it does not appear to be a spider. From one of the pics I’m sending you, it looks as if it has long fangs or something resembling fangs. I’m not sure, but I think I saw one of these last year that had killed a spider and sucked it’s juices out. The length of it’s body (without it’s legs) is roughly 3/4 of an inch long. I didn’t see it in your spider sections, but then again, I’m not sure if it is a spider. Thanks for any help you can offer.
This is an immature Assassin Bug. Adults will grow wings. They are predators with sucking mouth parts, and if handled carelessly, they will give you a painful bite. Eric Eaton added that this specimen is in the genus Zelus.
Letter 6 – Australian Assassin Bug
Looks like an immature Assassin Bug?
A friend found this guy in her garden (Toowoomba, Queensland Australia) – We have lots of the reddish brown bodied mature Assassin Bugs, this is the first one of this color I have seen. The head and neck look a slightly different shape to what I am used to. Do you think it is of the Assassin bug family? Thanks in anticipation
This is one of the Assassin Bugs. It looks like one of the group known as Bee Assassins.
Letter 7 – Assassin Bug from the Philippines
I need info on Vesbius pupureus, is it harmful?
Hi, I wrote to you several times before about this red bug (Vesbius purpureus) I found crawling in my room. I still can’t find any information about it on the net. Last night I spotted this guy crawling near a crack (where it lives). It had babies a couple of weeks ago and they scooted back into the crack whenever they saw me coming. I live in a wooded area and there are ants in my room. A few week ago, red ants invaded my room and I saw the bug family happily sitting by an ant trail, sticking out their long proboscis (freaking me out) and impaling and sucking ants. Do these bugs drink human blood? I’m grateful to them for ending my ant problem but seeing them eat is scary!! Where do they get their red coloring from? Do they actually have a "family unit"? Thank you!!
Where in the world are you???
I’m from the philippines! Thanks very much!
First we want to apologize for not responding to your previous requests, but it is actually a physical impossibility for us to respond to every letter. Second, we are very curious how you got a scientific name without any additional information. It is also noteworthy that you neglected to include a letter “r” in the species name of Vesbius purpupeus. Your insect is most definitely an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and the feeding habits support that. We did a google search of “Reduviidae”, “Philippines” and “Vesbius” but the only thing we could locate was a stamp issued in 1988. We also located a mention of the genus Vesbius in an Integrated Pest Management report that discussed it as a possible biological control for potential insect pests. We then found a website on the biodiversity of Indian Assassin Bugs, which indicates the genus Vesbius is in the subfamily Harpactorinae. Most relevent to your questions, perhaps, was a site that discussed Hemipterans that prey on insects that infest stored products, and this list included Vesbius purpureus. We found more images here. There were many Chinese websites that mention Vesbius purpureus. Assassin Bugs do have piercing mouth parts that they use on prey, and they will bite people if provoked, but few species actually feed off human blood. The Cone-Nosed Bugs in the genus Triatoma are an exception. The communal behavior you describe is not something normally associated with Assassin Bugs, though we just posted an image of a pack of Australian Assassin bugs attacking a Millipede, so communal behavior is a possibility. In closing, we do not believe your Assassin Bugs pose a threat to you, and if they are eating ants, we say “Let them be.”
I knew the scientific name from my gradeschool stamp club. I had the stamp with the insect on it. Yes, I will leave them be. I have NO ants left in my room and sadly, I have not seen any of these cute little bugs. Thanks,
Letter 8 – Assassinated Assassin Bug from Singapore
what is this?
i found this bug in my home yesterday and 3 more today. it’s about half an inch long. it’s got a bright orange body and black head and legs. it looks scary because it’s really bright warning orange and i’m afraid that it’s poisonous. i live in singapore (in south east asia) which is hot and humid all year round. i’ve never seen a bug like this before in my home and i hope it isn’t poisonous because i’ve got cats. the pictures should show a good morphology but the color isn’t so good so i attached a little swatch of digital color closest to the color of the insect. there are no white dots on the insect, it’s just the light from the camera. if it’s poisonous, what can i do to get rid of it? the bug in the picture is dead btw. thanks in advance!
This is an immature Assassin Bug. They are not poisonous, but can bite.
Letter 9 – Thread-Legged Assassin Bug from New Zealand
Praying Mantis NZ
I am in Dunedin New Zealand and I have found a facinating looking Praying Mantis. It is approximately 13 – 15mm long and looks like a mosquito at first glance. The photos do not show it well but the legs are covered in fine hairs, and it has long antennae coming off its tiny head. As far as i knew there were only two types of Mantis in New Zealand, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Can you tell me what it is?
This is not a Mantid. It is a Thread-Legged Assassin Bug, one of the Hemipterans or True Bugs. It looks very similar to the genus Stenolemus pictured on BugGuide. Sasha Azevedo who posted the photos there has researched the following information, but sadly, did not credit the source: “The Stenolemus assassin bugs hunt spiders by aggressively mimicking insects caught in the web.”
Thread-Legged Assassin Bug from New Zealand
In response to your recent poster’s message regarding Stenolemus and aggressive mimicry, I left no source because I gathered information from a few statements and put it into my own words. However, if you’re interested in the link that was used, this is it below. Good luck. 🙂
Sasha Azevedo (
Letter 10 – Assassin Bug
Colorful insect found in woods
Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 7:55 AM
I found this insect in the woods hiding behind a piece of bark. I noticed the red on his leg as he squeezed in to hide. I cannot figure out what kind he is! At first I thought it was a box elder bug, but aside from the giant white spot, his head is a different shape.
He moved very slowly, and did not try to hide again after I had exposed him from the bark.
Bug world enthusiast
John James Audobon National Park, Henderson, KY
This is an Assassin Bug with no common name. It is Microtomus purcis.
Letter 11 – Assassin Bug
Sat, Nov 15, 2008 at 2:22 PM
I found this guy on my writing table, and was surprised to see what he was doing. Is this their normal way of preparing for winter?
BugGuide.net indicates it is an Orange Assassin Bug, Pselliopus. We are in Western Maryland. Second and third photos are slightly clearer, and less interesting. ;^)
Washington County, Maryland, USA
Thanks for the wonderful image of a Pselliopus Assassin Bug. Many Hemipterans, including Boxelder Bugs, Western Conifer Seed Bugs, and Stink Bugs seek shelter indoors when winter approaches. It seems the same behavior may be true of some Assassin Bugs as well.
Letter 12 – Assassin Bug
Greeen asssassination with wings
Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 11:55 AM
I found this bug on my screen that’s on my window. I didn’t want to have this bug roaming around my house before i knew what it was so i close the window and as soon as i did that it hiked up its front legs like a mantis. I saw on your page that it might be an assassin bug? So what is this creature and what does it do?
Yes, this is an Assassin Bug. It is difficult to tell from the angle, but we suspect it is in the genus Zelus.
Letter 13 – Milkweed Assassin Bug
South FL: Wasp-ish w/ proboscis, Black, Red, White Spots
Sun, Dec 7, 2008 at 10:17 PM
I just came across your website the other day and low and behold I head out to garden this afternoon and see this little guy in my backyard! I’ve lived in West Broward (South Florida) all my life and never seen one like this…
It was lying on my pool deck and seems to be on his (or hers) last limbs. 🙁 I placed the little guy on a plant after I took these pics.
It has two pairs of wings (which is reminiscent of a wasp, but it also has a proboscis, and very, very long antennae and legs.
What is this South Florida creature? Is it even from here?
Sunny South Florida
South Florida, West Broward County
You have found an Assassin Bug and we believe it is a Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes. Assassin Bugs are predators, and though most species do not bite humans unprovoked, if they are carelessly handled, they can deliver a painful bite. The Milkweed Assassin Bug is a local species for your location.
Letter 14 – Ground Assassin Bug from Australia
Orange/Black Beetle/Hornet ? NSW
Sat, Dec 13, 2008 at 3:57 PM
My husband found this bug under his sleeve driving it’s spike into his arm yesterday. It got 4 stings in before it wore a size 9 dunlop volley.
Apparently it packed quite a punch, his arm still red/swollen/itchy 24hrs later. Just curious what bug this is? Doesn’t appear to have wings! Looks like a cross between a hornet & a beetle type bug.
Newcastle NSW Australia
Newcastle NSW Australia
A little bit of research revealed that this is a female Ground Assassin Bug, Ectomocoris decoratus, which we located on the Geocities Website of Brisbane Insects. Males of the species are winged and fly while the females are winged. Interestingly, we found some of the same photos and illustrations on a Brisbane Insects website with a different URL, but the species was listed as Ectomocoris patricius. We also found a PDF online that states: “Several other assassin bugs bite people in Queensland. … Ectomocoris decoratus, a fast-moving species with winged males and wingless females, is strikingly coloured in blue-black and orange. It occurs under loose bark and may be encountered when gardening or clearing vegetation. Because of its colour and speed, victims of this assassin bug often believe they were stung by a wasp.” We are not exactly sure what a size 9 dunlop volley is, but it sound like it contributed to the squashing evident in your photos. Assassin Bugs, except for a few blood sucking species, are thought of as beneficial predators, so we feel compelled to also tag your posting under Unnecessary Carnage.
Letter 15 – Assassin Bug
Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 5:05 PM
Found this bug in the kitchen one day, around Thanksgiving. Can’t find in my entomology books. Appears similar to an Assassin Bug. Red on upper wing, under wing pale green, red and green body, green and brown legs, antennae 3 segment, eyes dark red, head green, proboscis like a weevil, but long green with dark tip. Length from end of body to front of head approx. 14mm. Proboscis about 5mm. Can’t see in picture as it curves under head. Enclosed photo and sketch of details for clarification.
We are relatively certain that this is a species of Assassin Bug, but we are not certain which species. We are posting your photo and drawing and hope a reader can provide a correct identification.
Update December 24, 2008
The assassin bug image, and the accompanying drawing (quite good, I might add!) is of a species of Zelus. I’m having a hard time getting that particular kind down to species. There are at least three in California, with lots of variability in at least one of those!
Take care, best to Lisa, too.
Letter 16 – Assassin Bug Food Chain Scenario from Australia
Unknown Assassin with unknown wasp while mites hitch a ride (aussietrev)
Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 9:40 PM
Found this tableau on a grass stem. The only thing I know ID for are the red mites on the assassin bug. Both the bug and the wasp are quite tiny. Any ideas anyone?
Sorry for the delay, but we have had a crazy busy week. While we agree with the Assassin Bug and Mites, we are unable to identify the species. We are not convinced the prey is a Wasp. It almost looks like another Hemipteran. We will see if Eric Eaton thinks Hemipteran or Hymenopteran.
I agree with you, Daniel, the victim here is another hemipteran, something in the family Rhyparochromidae most likely.
Letter 17 – Immature Milkweed Assassin Bug
Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 12:11 PM
I was trying to identify a bug that I took a photo of this morning. He was eating a small ant. Based on my search for a red bug with white spots I found your web and Id’ it as an Assassin bug.
Baton Rouge La
This is an immature Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes. Though there is another small winged insect in your photo, the Assassin Bug does not appear to be feeding.
Letter 18 – Assassin Bug from Singapore
Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 8:07 AM
Think its an assassin bug but wondering if you can get it down to species or family level. Found it near a shore location (near the sea) on an island in Singapore. It was fast moving and I didn’t want to provoke it lest it bite me with that stinger. Singapore is south of Malaysia, located on the equator. Also caught one today, but photo is unavailable yet. Do you have any links on tropical assassin bug websites? Thanks!
This is an Assassin Bug, but it is past midnight and we have an early call tomorrow. We cannot take the time to identify the species tonight, but perhaps one of our readers will provide a comment or write back to us with an identification.
Update: August 5, 2012
We are trying to clean up some old unidentified postings and we discovered a visual match, but no identification, on FlickR.
Update: April 8, 2013
Thanks to a comment from David, we were able to find a link to an image of Cosmolestes picticeps on Reduviidae.de.
Letter 19 – Assassin Bug Squashed
Orange bug with striped legs
Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 6:45 AM I have found several orange bugs about 1/4″ in length in my house. They appear to have wings and 6 legs with yellow/black stripes on them. They have 2 antennas well. I found them crawling on the edges of doors. Any info you can provide would be great. Thanks!
Ellicott City, Maryland
This is an Assassin Bug, Pselliopus barberi, and the species has no common name. It appears as though your specimen was squashed in a tissue, and this was an example of Unnecessary Carnage, since this insect is a beneficial predator thay will not harm your home. If mishandled, it may bite.
Letter 20 – Assassin Bug
Bug on goldenrod
September 13, 2009
Photographed this guy/gal on a goldenrod plant along driveway–think it’s gorgeous and would like to know what I’m admiring. Also want to enter photo in competition and need ID to accompany it.
There is an entire ecosystem that thrives when the goldenrod blooms, from the nectar and pollen seeking creature, to the predators that prey upon them. This is an Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, probably Pselliopus cinctus. According to BugGuide it is often found where insects visit flowers.
Thanks so much for your reply. I sort of thought it was an assassin bug based on what I could get from my insect guides. Sue
Letter 21 – Corsair Assassin Bug: Unnecessary Carnage
Beetle (?) Identification
September 13, 2009
A few days ago, I noticed one of these flying around the living room, and at first thought it was a yellow jacket. Yesterday, there were two, and today I’ve killed 3!
I’ve about worn myself out looking at bug sites and image searches, and thought you might be able to help. I’m not sure if its the recent rain, or the long drought proceeding it that has brought them inside.
Looking around, I thought they looked a bit like soldier beetles, but with opposite colorings. They are about an inch long, and seem to be attracted to the lights.
The bug in the pictures has been squished, but hopefully the markings are enough!
Texas Gulf Coast
Though they are not aggressive, if they are carelessly handled, Assassin Bugs in the genus Rasahus, known as Corsair Assassin Bugs, can bite painfully. Despite this fact, we still feel that these beneficial predators need not be killed unnecessarily, leading us to classify your letter as Unnecessary Carnage. Based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe your individual is Rasahus biguttatus.
Letter 22 – Immature Common Assassin Bug from Australia
Some sort of assassin bug?
December 10, 2009
The other day my girlfriend ran into the room holding a bug that had been biting her arm. It was a tiny Hemiptera that, legs and all, would be only the size of someones fingernail. We examined it for a while then released it back out into the garden only to find dozens more. Despite the aggressive first encounter they proved to be very pretty, shy little things and proved to be rather difficult to photograph.
These pictures were taken in Taree NSW, Australia in early-mid summer.
My suspicion is that they are an assassin bug, or something similar. I hope you will be able to narrow it down for me.
Taree, NSW, Australia
Nymphs are sometimes difficult to properly identify, but we believe this is an immature Common Assassin Bug, Pristhesancus plagipennis, which we identified on the Brisbane Insect website.
Letter 23 – Assassin Bug
What is this bug? Is it harmful?
December 26, 2009
I found this bug inside the house on the window curtain. It can fly. I have found a couple of dead ones around the house recently. It is winter here but we have had some warm spells. This is the first year I have found this type of bug inside or outside.
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
This is a species of Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, most likely Pselliopus barberi. According to BugGuide, the adults overwinter and it might have sought shelter from the cold inside your home. Though they are not considered harmful, many Assassin Bugs will bite if carelessly handled, and Pselliopus barberi is no exception. Assassin Bugs are considered to be important predators in the control of other insects and their presence will help to ensure that problematic species do not become too plentiful.
Thanks for the ID on the Assassin bug. I had put it outside so checked and it hadn’t moved since yesterday. Was into hibernation. When picked up (with a glove on) it began to move so I moved it to a safe place to overwinter. Certainly can use it to control unwanted bugs next spring and summer. Thanks, George
Letter 24 – Assassin Bug
What kind of bug is this?
April 21, 2010
This bug is from a neighbor. It measures about one inch in length. Through handling it has lost some body parts. Date of bugs death is April 21, 2010.
Southeast South Carolina
This is an Assassin Bug and we have identified it on BugGuide as Sirthenea carinata. BugGuide indicates it is “Predatory on other insects, including mole crickets” and it “Allegedly takes prey underground. Apparently comes to lights in late summer/fall.” We suspect this poor Assassin Bug did not die of natural causes, and we are tagging it as unnecessary carnage. Assassin Bugs may bite if they are handled carelessly, but only a few species suck blood from mammals, and this is not one of them.
Letter 25 – Assassin Bug from Hawaii
Red and Black Beetle from Kauai
May 15, 2010
While working in the Alakai Swamp in Kauai, I came across this beetle. It was hanging out on a ginger plant leaf sometime midday in late April.
This is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae, and its general shape and bright coloration incline us to believe it is a species of Bee Assassin in the genus Apiomeris. BugGuide has images of several North American species, but none exhibit the unusual coloration of your specimen. Alas, the Insects of Hawaii website does not have any members of the genus Apiomeris pictured, and indeed, it has but one unidentified Assassin Bug in its archives, a curious gap in insect diversity that we believe is more likely due to an oversight of the website than to an actual reflection on the arthropod fauna on the islands. The Termite Assassin Bug of Australia, Tegea atropicta, which is pictured on the Brisbane Insect website, has similar coloration, but we do not think it is the same species.
Thank you so much! I went ahead an emailed Entomologist Frank Howarth from the Hawaii Biological Survey and this was his reply:
The bug is the assassin bug, Haematoloecha rubescens Distant, 1883 (family Reduviidae). This species arrived in Hawaii in the 1970s from tropical Asia probably as a stowaway. It is apparently a specialist predator of millipedes, especially the alien flat-back millipedes (family Paradoxosomatidae).
Letter 26 – Assassin Bug
would like to know what bug this is
May 26, 2010
I live in Adrian Michigan and found this bug on a flower in my garden on May 25, 2010 at around 4-pm. Temperature was 80F and sunny
Steven R. Ross
Adrian Michigan USA
This is a predatory insect known as an Assassin Bug. The species, Zelus luridus, which ranges in the Eastern portion of North America, does not have a common name other than the general family name of Assassin Bug. You can compare your photos to images posted to BugGuide.
Letter 27 – Assassin Bug from Hawaii
Red Beetle Bug
June 5, 2010
I found this beetle in my back yard on Maui today and have never seen it before. Can you tell me what kind of beetle bug it is?
WE received another image of this Assassin Bug a few months ago, and this is what Entomologist Frank Howarth from the Hawaii Biological Survey had to say: “The bug is the assassin bug, Haematoloecha rubescens Distant, 1883 (family Reduviidae). This species arrived in Hawaii in the 1970s from tropical Asia probably as a stowaway. It is apparently a specialist predator of millipedes, especially the alien flat-back millipedes (family Paradoxosomatidae).“
Letter 28 – Immature Sycamore Assassin Bug
Orange Spiky Bug
July 7, 2010
Hi, here’s an interesting one! This spiny, orange bug was attached to our dogs coat when she came in from the yard-lot’s of woods here in middle GA (Mid July-summer). It looked half dead when we plucked it off her fur and put it on the table for closer inspection. The small strands of dog hair seemed to be tripping him up quite a bit, he was moving sooo slowly. When he finally managed to untangle himself he bolted, ran clear to the edge of the table and jumped! It was incredible! We would like to know what this magnificent little specimen is called so we can learn more about him. Thanks so much!
This is an immature Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, called a Sycamore Assassin Bug, and you may compare your image to photographs posted to BugGuide. Assassin Bugs are predators with piercing/sucking mouthparts that should be handled with caution as they might bite.
Letter 29 – Assassin Bug
Location: New Jersey, USA
August 12, 2010 12:47 am
I found this bug stuck in a spiders web in the corner of my garage. The only bug I see it resembles is that of the stink bug or leaf footed bugs, but I hadn’t seen any with these striped marking.
Your insect is a predatory Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, a group collectively known as the Sycamore Assassin Bugs.
Letter 30 – Black Assassin Bug: Black Corsair or Masked Hunter
If you’re there, What’s This Bug?! It just bit my son…
Location: Seminole, Oklahoma
August 27, 2010 7:42 pm
He crawled into a hole my boxer had dug to get a toy that dropped into it. Apparently this beetle got into his shorts, and then bit him. It has a probe/proboscis mouth, not pincers. Just want to know if it’s anything I need to worry about. I’m searching Bugguide now. Thanks so much…
it is very difficult to see through the bag. Might be a Black Corsair.
or maybe a Masked Hunter.
That is what I identified it as myself, though I’m the beginner of beginners in identifying bugs. I found a photo, based on the shape of a wheel bug (minus the wheel) and knowing that the wheel bug was an assasin beetle. I googled “black assasin beetle” and came up with a photo of a female black corsair with the same exact “vestigal wing pads” and body, down to the horizontal segmented look to the concave back. Also, remembering what you said about the wheel bug using it’s mouth to pierce reminded me of this bug. So I thank you very much. I know she’s not dangerous, but all sites say the bite is “quite painful” or “nasty” and my five year old agrees! He’s much better now, and I won’t let him crush the bug… I promise!
Letter 31 – Long Necked Seed Bug
small and strange
Location: Nassau, NY
September 12, 2010 10:37 pm
My son found this bug on our patio. It’s magnified quite a bit in the photo – its actually shorter than a fingernail. It was found in Long Island just a couple of days ago. Until I magnified it I didn’t even notice it had eyes.
Signature: urban bug hunter
Dear urban bug hunter,
We are nearly certain this is an Assassin Bug, but we cannot match your image to images on BugGuide. Perhaps we can get some assistance from our readership.
September 14, 2010
Thanks to Cali17 who provided a comment, we believe this is a Long Necked Seed Bug, Myodocha serripes, because of the strong resemblance to images posted to BugGuide which indicates it feeds upon: “Seeds of strawberry and st. johnswort. Sometimes a pest of strawberries.” BugGuide identifies its range as “Florida to Texas and north to southern Canada, west to Colorado, New Mexico” and states “Two generations per year; overwinters as adult in leaf litter or under bark of trees in woodlands”.
Letter 32 – Assassin Bug
Would like to know what this bug is.
Location: St Peters, MO
November 7, 2010 8:26 pm
This bug is yellow/orange in color and very interesting looking. It is about a 1/2 inch in length, not including antenna. All 6 of the striped legs are attached to the thorax and the back end sits up a little higher at an angle.
Signature: Lori Bond
This is an Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus which you may verify on BugGuide.
Letter 33 – Assassin Bug
Location: Currently in Indiana…but may have been brought from Hawaii
December 3, 2010 11:32 am
Do you know what type of bug/insect this is? I brought a doll (made in Hawaii) to Indiana from Hawaii in August 2010, upacked it from the box it came in and placed it in my curio cabinet. I recently found this bug/insect in my curio cabinet. I saw it one day and when I went back to get it I couldn’t find it…then a couple days later, I saw it again on a higher shelf….This time I captured it. Sorry for the dust :). Can you tell me what kind of bug/insect it is? Is it Hawaiian? Please help!!
Signature: Curious Sue
Dear Curious Sue,
We decided to go back through our unanswered mail to try to post a few additional letters and photos, which is why we are so late in responding to your query. This is an immature Assassin Bug, and based on a photo we found on BugGuide, we believe it may be in the genus Zelus. This comment from Eric Eaton can be found on BugGuide: “Zelus is a genus in utter confusion right now, so even adults are getting harder to put to species.” Since members of the genus may be found in Indiana as well as Hawaii, we are uncertain where this individual may have originated.
Letter 34 – Assassin Bug from Guyana
Strange bug from Guyana
Location: Corentyne, Berbice, Guyana, South America
February 1, 2011 7:27 am
I have been living in Guyana for the past 6 years and recently came across this bug on our window screen. We live on the coast of Guyana in Berbice,South America. When I touched the bug, he grabbed me with his leg and I quickly pulled away as I notices a sharp spike protruding from the front of his head. Then I noticed a clear liquid coming from the end of the spike. Just wanted to know what is living around the house.
This is one impressive looking Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae. Assassin Bugs are predators that use their piercing mouthparts to suck fluids from their prey, and we have never seen an Assassin Bug with a more formidable looking beak. The raptorial front legs are quite distinctive as well and these physical characteristics should make a species identification relatively easy. We can predict that the bite of this particular Assassin Bug is most likely quite painful, and we just posted a letter regarding the bite of a different species of Assassin Bug. One group of Assassin Bugs, the Kissing Bugs or Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma (see BugGuide), prey upon warm blooded hosts. In the tropics, the bite of the Kissing Bug is known to spread Chagas Disease. Your Assassin Bug is not one of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs, we we would advise utmost caution in handling it nonetheless.
Letter 35 – Assassin Bug
Location: North East Ohio by a pond
May 30, 2011 9:06 pm
Do you know the name of this bug?
I found it on Memorial Day on this Siberian Iris.
Signature: Spencer Anderson
This is a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug in the genus Zelus. They are reported to bite if carelessly handled, and the bite is allegedly somewhat painful, though there is no lasting effect.
Letter 36 – Assassin Bug from Dominican Republic
Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
June 21, 2011 3:20 pm
Greetings from Dominican Republic. A friend of mine send me your website to clarify my search of what’s that bug?
Yesterday I was at my new home and I found this small insect standing on the floor opening his legs in a curious an funny way. Can you please tell me many things on this bug. Thanks on advance.
Signature: Alejandro (Dominican Republic)
We do not recognize the species, but we can tell you that this insect is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae. Most Assassin Bugs are predators on other insects and arthropods, hence they are considered beneficial insects. A very small percentage of Assassin Bugs, most notably the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma, take blood from warm blooded prey like mammals and occasionally humans. Your Assassin Bug is not a Blood Sucking Conenose. We can speculate that it is a beneficial species.
Letter 37 – Assassin Bug
Whats this bug???
Location: Southern Ca
August 12, 2011 10:33 pm
I found this little bug when I was watering my sunflowers. I live in the Mojave desert in Southern CA.
Signature: J Odice
zelus assassin bug
Thanks, I tried looking it up and could not find an image anywhere that looked like it…LOve your site!!!
Hi again Jill,
Assassin Bugs in the genus Zelus are often difficult to identify to the species level, except perhaps the Milkweed Assassin Bug, Zelus longipes, which has distinctive orange and black coloration. We found a photo on BugGuide of an unidentified Zelus Assassin Bug from Nevada that looks very similar to your individual. Assassin Bugs are beneficial predators and they will help eliminate Aphids and other undesirable insects on your plants. Beware though, since we get frequent reports of people being bit by Assassin Bugs, especially those in the genus Zelus. The bite is reported to be painful, but it does not have lasting effects. Accidentally brushing up against Assassin Bugs while gardening, or trying to handle them are the usual scenarios that provoke a bite.
Letter 38 – Assassin Bug
Cockroach:Atlanta falcons Fan???
Location: Chesapeake, VA
October 14, 2011 11:19 pm
I saw this red black and white insect on the door in the back of the warehouse where I work. Its near the woods by a huge clearwater lake I was wondering if you could identify him. I’ve never seen one of these before, and I’ve lived in chesapeake all my life and it was during the time when the dismal swamp was on fire.. so maybe it migrated from NC? whats that bug?
Your bug is classified in a totally different order than the cockroach. This is an Assassin Bug and we identified on BugGuide as Mictomus purcis, a species with no common name. Perhaps you should propose “Falcon’s Fan Assassin Bug” to the proper authorities as a suggested name.
Letter 39 – Sycamore Assassin Bug
orange bug with black striped legs
Location: tuscaloosa, alabama usa
October 18, 2011 5:48 pm
I saw this bug at work one day and wondered what it might be it was on 10/18/2011 at abouth 2:00 in the afternoon
You found a Sycamore Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, probably Pselliopus barberi, though other species in the genus look quite similar. Assassin Bugs are predatory insects that are capable of biting humans if they are carelessly handled.
Letter 40 – Assassin Bug
Unknown night bug
January 23, 2012 1:11 pm
Dear Mr. Bugman,
I’ve spent some time trying to identify this bug but have been unsuccesful so far.
I’ve spotted it in the middle of a warm summer night in the Netherlands. It did not react to the flashlight of my camera. It seems it has underdeveloped wings and a weird set of ’teeth’ originating from the top of its head bending towards the bottom of its body.
Thanks for the awesome website, keep it up!
Signature: Thanks, Frank
We believe this is an Assassin Bug, a predatory True Bug in the family Reduviidae. Unless we are sorely mistaken, the underdeveloped wings are an indication that it is an immature specimen. We would not entirely rule out that this is a member of some other Heteropteran family though.
Letter 41 – Common Assassin Bug from Australia
Subject: Wheel bug?
Location: Inner Western Sydney, Australia
December 11, 2012 6:58 pm
Looking at the site, he looks like he’s a wheel bug (or an Australian version of it?). Never seen anything like this around my area before.
Size: 25mm from tip of the head to rear end.
This is not a Wheel Bug which is a North American species, but like the Wheel Bug, it is an Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae. We believe we have correctly identified it as the Common Assassin Bug or Bee Killer, Pristhesancus plagipennis, thanks to the Brisbane Insect website, our first stop for Australian insect identifications.
Correction: Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash, we need to correct that Wheel Bugs are a new world species. See the link to Cesar’s blog Insetologia.
Letter 42 – An offer to help identify Assassin Bugs
Subject: Assisting in Assassin Bug IDs
April 24, 2013 8:43 am
Greetings from another Dan the Bugman,
I’m interested in offering my services in assassin bug identification. I’m not sure what your process typically entails, but if you would be willing to forward me ID requests for reduviid-ish images, I would be happy to take the identification as far as I am able. I am trying to gain a wider exposure to this group, especially in the Old World, something my role as a Contributing Editor at BugGuide.net can only take so far; thus, I think this arrangement would be mutually beneficial.
Looking forward to your response.
Signature: Daniel R. Swanson
I am thrilled at your offer. Please feel free to look at any Assassin Bugs in the archives and provide identifications or comments. I will be sure to contact you in the future with any new postings that are difficult.
Glad I can be of assistance and excited for what the archives might hold. I will probably just start at the oldest page and slowly and periodically work through them to the most recent (although I tend to really enjoy this type of thing so it may go quicker than anticipated). That plan brings up some questions, mostly relating to North American fauna. Do want me to comment on most images? For example:
1) if you’ve concluded an image is a species of Zelus, but I can tell you its Z. renardii, would you like a comment?
2) if you’ve stated, “I think” or “I’m pretty sure it’s species ZZZ”, would you like me to confirm that?
3) do all my comments go through you? If I say “no, this is not a reduviid, it’s a nabid” will you see it? For that matter, is the average contributor still linked to their image, i.e. will they see my ID?
4) the oldest image is a teneral (and added shot, nymphal) wheel bug. At the time, that ID wasn’t offered, I’m guessing because you’ve obviously grown and know a lot more species now than when you started. Should I still offer up an ID for things you know now and have IDed a lot on your site but didn’t at the time?
I will certainly correct wrong identifications, and I do not plan to comment on correct identifications backed by reasonable confidence (e.g. wheel bugs or masked hunter nymphs) or posts without images. Unless you prefer I do, I probably will not provide references or citations (e.g. keys, descriptions) relating to my identification (in many cases, there are none except my own notes), although I may include various details, e.g. subfamilial ranking; geographic distribution; “10 species in southeast Asia” so the contributor knows a species ID is unlikely. I think too I will simply sign my comments as “drswanny” if that’s fine by you. That will keep my BugGuide handle associated and further cultivate my association with reduviid identifications in the online community.
Thanks again for this opportunity,
We like to think of our site as a nice chatty place and that that is one of its charms. For that reason, we have decided to post this conversation and we will illustrate it with the first Assassin Bug you identified for us. Upon a first read, I believe the answer to all of your questions is “yes” but we will go through them systematically.
1) Yes, please identify any common genera identifications to the species level, including all Zelus.
2) Yes, when our answers are not definite, by all means confirm any general responses.
3) Yes, I approve all comments, but after one comment is approved, the subsequent ones generally go live automatically. I try to read and approve all comments except SPAM. The person who submitted an image for posting is not linked to their posting, however if they supply a comment, we believe as long as the email address submitted is accurate, the querant will be notified of all subsequent comments. The querant will only see your comment if they revisit the site or if they have previously supplied a comment to the original posting.
4) Yes, please identify old posts. I knew very little in 1999 when one identification request a month was considered frequent mail. Alas, I do not visit the archives much. That is pretty much water under the bridge and there isn’t even enough time to read and respond to all submissions now, especially in the summer months.
Any anecdotal information is greatly appreciated.
Letter 43 – Assassin Bug bites man in Tennessee
Subject: this thing bit me. what the heck is it?
October 23, 2013 11:25 am
The attached photos are of the strange creature that bit my leg. I had to pull it off since it had quite the hold. Felt like a bee sting and left a similar mark although with a little blood. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Thanks Daniel. Someone else told me they thought it might be some type of Seed bug, but the photo in the link you sent me looks identical to the beast that bit me. Thank you for your quick response. I can now let folks know that it’s not a Kissing bug and my chances of survival just went up dramatically.
Hi again Kevin,
This is most definitely not a Kissing Bug, one of the genera of Assassin Bugs that does pose a health threat to humans.
Thank you for putting my mind at ease
Letter 44 – Molting Assassin Bug
Subject: unknown colorful bug
Location: baltimore maryland
July 9, 2014 9:59 pm
I was working on this barn and I saw it on the side of the barn had to take a picture and could not find out what it was kinda looks like it might b some kind of assassin bug but it has 12 legs so i dont know
Signature: thanks, shane
You are correct that this is an Assassin Bug and the reason it appears to have twelve legs is that you have captured the molting process. The cast of exoskeleton or exuvia is the darker half and the newly emerged insect is lighter in coloration. It will soon darken as its new exoskeleton hardens. We believe this is an immature Wheel Bug.
Letter 45 – Assassin Bug from Greece
Subject: ID request
Location: 39.078007, 22.981302
September 21, 2015 8:59 am
thanks for this nice site. I might need help from time to time.
Pay no attention to what I name my photos. I know it can be far from truth.
You can use my photos any way you want but have in mind that if I ever upload them it is usually under CC license so others might use them as well.
For the time I need help to identify this nice bug in the photo. It was taken on 1st of June 2015 in central Greece near the sea.
This is an Assassin Bug, and we believe we found a good match with an image of Rhinocoris cuspidatus from Spain that is posted to VisualPHotos. Project Noah verifies that the species is found in Greece.
Letter 46 – Assassin Bug from Vietnam
Subject: Vietnam Bug Bite
Location: Phong Nha-ke Bang National Park Tỉnh Lộ 20 Xã Sơn Trạch Tỉnh Quảng Bình Vietnam
November 2, 2015 2:19 pm
I am out working in northern Vietnam and got a painful bite last night when I stepped barefoot on a bug. It felt like I stepped on glass. I did some looking up and found it to be some type of coreidae. But no where online mentions a biting bug in Vietnam that fits that description.
This is some species of Assassin Bug in the family Reduviidae. Assassin Bugs have mouths designed to pierce and suck fluids from their prey, and many species will bite humans if carelessly handled or inadvertently touched or swatted.
Letter 47 – Assassin Bug from the Philippines
Subject: what kind of bug is this
March 31, 2016 3:58 pm
Good day, I want to know what kind of insects or bug is this. I was 6 months pregnant and I lost my baby because I had a preterm labor and I gave birth too early , Im thinking one of the reason is the night after I gave birth. I had bitten by insect or bug then after an hour I had rashes and then I experience difficulty of breathing until I fall asleep. When I woke up I already had my contraction for several hours and gave birth too early and sadly my baby died because the doctor said his lungs are not yet fully developed. I really wanted to know what kind of bug is this and what are the effects when you get bit by this bug.
I will truely appreciate your response.
Signature: What kind of bug
We are sorry to learn about your tragedy, and we cannot say for certain that an insect bite was the cause. This Assassin Bug may be a member of the blood-sucking subfamily Triatominae. You can find out more information on the subfamily by referring to the online article The Kissing Bug in Quezon City, Philippines.
Letter 48 – Sycamore Assassin Bug
Subject: Unknown bug- help!
Location: King George VA
April 5, 2016 5:38 pm
I live in King George Virginia and came across this bug on my siding by my front door yesterday, April 4, 2016. I have heard horrible things about the kissing bug and am freaked out, is this one of them? Some people have said yes it is others have said it’s an orange assassin bug p. Barberi. Are kissing bugs and assassin bugs the same thing??
We will attempt to remedy your confusion. This is a Sycamore Assassin Bug in the genus Pselliopus, probably Pselliopus barberi. Though it might bite if carelessly handled, it is a beneficial predatory species that poses no danger to humans. Assassin Bugs are all members of the family Reduviidae, and Kissing Bugs are members of the family and further classified in the Subfamily Triatominae. That means all Kissing Bugs are Assassin Bugs, but not all Assassin Bugs are Kissing Bugs.
Thank you for clarifying, and relieving my fears! So the sycamore assassin bug doesn’t carry Chaga’s disease, correct?
Correct. Also it is worth noting that while Kissing Bugs can carry Chagas Disease, it is not very common in the US. It is a much bigger problem in Latin America.
Letter 49 – Sycamore Assassin Bug
Subject: Difference between assassin bug and kissing bug
Geographic location of the bug: Southern New Jersey,(Wenonah) right outside of Philadelphia
Time: 10:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found this bug in my bathroom sink this morning. I thought it looked like a kissing bug. My bf says, no, it’s an assassin bug. Is there a difference?
How you want your letter signed: Melody Schantz
The easiest explanation to your subject like is that all Kissing Bugs are Assassin Bugs, but not all Assassin Bugs are Kissing Bugs. Kissing Bugs in the genus Triatoma are members of the Assassin Bug family Reduviidae, so they bear a physical resemblance to other Assassin Bugs. Kissing Bugs pose a significant threat to human health as they carry the pathogen known to cause Chagas Disease in humans. Many Assassin Bugs will deliver a painful bite if carelessly handled, but the bite does not do any permanent harm. The insect in your image is a Sycamore Assassin Bug. It is not a Kissing Bug but it is possible to be bitten by a Sycamore Assassin Bug.
Wow, thank you so very much for your time and explanation!! I truly appreciate it.