Assassin Bugs

(Reduviidae Family)



Assassin Bugs get their name from their predatory habits.

Yes, beneficial insects.

One of God's good guys.

Because of their voracious appetites for other bugs, keeps pests under control, we gardeners consider them beneficial insects.


assassin bug

Description:

Assassins use piercing, sucking mouth parts to feed, and have long, slender antennae.

A short, three-segmented beak distinguishes Reduviids from other true bugs, which generally have beaks with four segments.

Their heads are often tapered behind the eyes, so they look like they have a long neck.

Reduviids (Assassins) vary in size, from just a few millimeters in length to well over an inch long (over three centimeters).

The front legs of this species of bug are designed for catching prey.

Some bugs seem rather bland in brown or black, while others sport elaborate markings and brighter colors.

When threatened, some species may inflict a painful bite, so be careful handling them.

Diet:

Most Assassin bugs prey on other small invertebrates.

A few parasitic Reduviids, like the well-known kissing bugs, suck the blood of vertebrates, including humans.

Life Cycle:

Assassin bugs, like other Hemipterans, undergo incomplete metamorphosis with three stages – egg, nymph, and adult.

No pupa stage for these bugs.

The female assassin lays clusters of eggs on plants. Wingless nymphs hatch from the eggs, and molt several times to reach adulthood in about two months.

The species of beneficial bugs living in colder climates usually overwinter as adults.

assassin bug nymph

Special Adaptations and Defenses:

Toxins in the saliva paralyze its prey.

Many have sticky hairs on their front legs, which help them grasp other insects. Some bugs and nymphs camouflage themselves with debris, from dust bunnies to insect carcasses.

These assassins do whatever it takes to catch a meal.

Many employ specialized behaviors or modified body parts designed to fool their prey.

For example, one termite-hunting species in Costa Rica uses the dead termite carcasses as bait to attract live ones, then pounces on the unsuspecting insect and eats it.

Certain bugs in southeast Asia will stick their hairy front legs in tree resin, and use it to attract bees.


assassin bug Range and Distribution:

Assassins are a cosmopolitan family of insects that live throughout the world.

They are particularly diverse in the tropics. Scientists describe about 6,600 distinct species.

Over 100 types of this beneficial insect live in North America.

Assassin Bugs and Other Beneficial Insects

Turn Your Gardens into a Beneficial Insectary

Create a Wildlife Habitat

Beneficial Insects, birds, toads and more of God's creatures working for you.

Learn More on Wildlife Gardening.

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