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NC State Extension

Assassin Bug

  • Common Name: Assassin Bug
  • General Category: Beneficial Predator
  • Taxonomic Classification: Hemiptera: Reduviidae
  • Scientific Name: Many species)

Description

These bugs are very general in their feeding habits. Like all true bugs (Hemiptera) these predators have a beak. To feed, they often grasp their prey with their front legs, then swing their beaks up from under their bodies to insert into the prey. They inject digestive enzymes through the beak that soon render the prey immobile, after which they suck up the digested insides. They can also inflict a painful bite if mishandled.

Assassin bug adult Assassin bug nymph

Identification

Review the images for tips on how to identify these predators.

Adults

Like the predatory bugs, assassin bugs have beaks that are at least twice as thick as their antennae. However, the beaks are shorter, stouter, and curved. The beak tip fits into a groove between the front legs. The front legs may be raptorial, or grasping, like that of praying mantids. They have long, gangly legs and antennae that can sometimes make them appear spider-like. These are relatively large insects, ranging from about a third to over one inch in length.

Nymphs

Like adults, except lacking wings. Abdomen may be curved upwards, especially in younger nymphs.

Value in Pest Management

These bugs are common natural control agents of caterpillars and a variety of other plant feeding insects. When abundant, they likely contribute to pest population regulation. They are not sold commercially.

Origin and Distribution

Native, throughout North America.

Discover Life – Reduviidae

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