An Assassin bug is an interesting animal to know about. Assassin bugs are a group of insects that eat other insects. There are up to 3,000 species of assassin bugs in the world, and 160 of them live in North America. 1 Their homes are spread out across the United States.
As their name suggests, assassin bugs are strong bugs that can cause trouble for a lot of other bugs. Moreover, you may want to know are assassin bugs dangerous. They can also sometimes be dangerous for people. It’s good to learn about the different kinds of insects that fit this category so you can figure out which ones might be good for your garden and which ones you should avoid.
Understanding Assassin Bugs?
So, you may want to know what is assassin bug or what is an assassin bug. Assassin bugs are not just one type of insect. Instead, they are a group of different predatory insects in the family Reduviidae. Furthermore, they usually hunt caterpillars, aphids, cucumber beetles, earwigs, and leafhoppers. The only thing these predators have in common is a “weapon” that looks like a beak and acts like a dagger or sword.
This long part of the mouth injects a poison that kills the insect prey and makes its insides runny. Moreover, they use the same part of the mouth for drinking the body fluids of the “victim,” like people uses straw to drink soda. Besides, most assassin bugs have babies in the fall, and some of them can live for many years.
How to Identify an Assassin Bug
There is no one way to tell which bugs are assassin bugs because they are so different. The long proboscis is one thing that many of them have in common. There are several species of assassin bugs in the Zelus genus. The milkweed assassin bug, Zelus longipes, is often seen in the South of the United States, especially in Texas. Its red and black coloring can recognize it.
Assassin bugs often have bright colors that show how dangerous the Assassin bug bite is. Some, though, are sneaky. One type of killer bug, namely “ambush bugs,” hides in plain sight on flowers by matching the color of its petals. These bugs wait for people who don’t see them.
The long, tubular shape of an assassin bug’s head makes it look like it has a long “neck.” Many of them have wings, but they don’t fly very well. They often have small eyes that stick out and long, thin legs. Because they are small and light, it is easy to “flick” them away if they land on or near you, and they are less likely to bite you if you try to squash them.
Where Do Assasin Bugs Occur?
The assasin bug occurs almost everywhere in the continental United States, but they are most common in the South and other warmer places where they can live and breed for a longer time of the year. The Zelus longipes is a type of assassin bug that is often seen in the southern US, especially in Texas. Moreover, it is easy to spot because it is red and black.
Many assassin bugs possess bright coloration, which may be nature’s way of telling us that their bites can be dangerous. But many of these bugs are brown or grey with a little color. The kissing bug or cone nose bug (Triatoma) occurs in Texas. It has a small head and a large, flat, oval body about the size of a penny. On the side of its lower abdomen, it has short, pale yellow or orange stripes.
Furthermore, these bugs have sharp, sucking mouth parts, and they feed on blood by biting people in the face in a way that doesn’t hurt (hence the name “kissing bug”). These bugs are from Latin America, including Mexico, but they are showing up more and more in Texas. They may carry parasites making people sick and dogs sick with Chagas’ disease. Public health experts are doing their best to let people in certain areas know about this disease because it is so scary.
How is an Assassin Bug Helpful?
People think that assassin bugs are good for the garden because they eat harmful insects that eat plants, like caterpillars and grasshoppers. They like to hang out in vegetable gardens, flower gardens with pretty flowers, and orchards. They can help control insects that like to eat these plants and crops.
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Bad Side Of Assasin Bugs?
Even though assassin bugs are good at getting rid of common garden pests, they also have some bad traits. Moreover, can assassin bugs hurt humans? Some assassin bugs are dangerous to humans because they bite or their strong poison. Others, like the kissing bug, carry parasites that are dangerous to humans.
The wheel bug is one of these nasty assassin bugs. It is a very large grey bug that is usually about an inch and a half long and has a round crest on its back. Most of the time, these bugs that look pretty scary hunt grasshoppers and caterpillars in the garden. If someone holds or touches them accidentally, they tend to bite, and the bite hurts right away but doesn’t hurt them in the long run. In that case, pain relievers that go on the skin and bite treatments can help ease the pain and clean the area.
Suppose you have any allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, like general swelling, itching, hives, or trouble breathing. In that case, you should call a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
Assasin bugs in the family Reduviidae eat other insects and are very helpful to gardeners. Moreover, they are good at catching and eating many different kinds of animals, like other bugs, bees, flies, and caterpillars. An assassin bug can catch its prey with a quick jab of its long mouthparts. Thus, after a paralyzing toxin puts the prey to sleep, the assassin bug’s mouthparts, which look like soda straws, draw the body fluids out of the prey. Moreover, most assassin bug species are grey to black or brownish, but some have bright colors.
How Common Are Assassin Bugs?
Zelus is a common genus in Texas, where there are several species. The unique species is the milkweed assassin bug or Zelus longipes. At least one species of Zelus is known to come into people’s homes in the fall and winter.
Ambush bugs are a type of killer bug that hides on flowers and waits for its prey. Some of these species are the right color to blend in with their live flowers.
The wheel bug is the biggest of the about 150 types of assassin bugs that live in North America. Adult wheel bugs are about 3 cm (1 14 inches) long and grey. It gets its name from the cog-like crest on top of the wheel bug’s thorax, which is the middle part of its body (see photo). Moreover, wheel bugs will eat grasshoppers and caterpillars that are bigger than them.
Most assassin bugs are very helpful, but the cone-nosed bug, also known as the kissing bug, feeds on humans and other mammals. Cone-nosed bugs have the same long head shape as wheel bugs, but they are different from wheel bugs because they don’t have a crest, and their abdomens have orange and black markings where that stick out past their wings.
Bites From Wheel Bugs
Some assassin bugs, especially wheel bugs, will bite if you pick them up and handle them without being careful. When a wheel bug bites, it hurts very badly right away. People who are bitten should wash the area and put an antiseptic on it. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can be taken by mouth to help ease the pain.
Most of the time, you don’t need to see a doctor, but topical corticosteroids may help reduce swelling or itching where the Assasin bug bite happened. As with any insect bite or sting, the person should go to the hospital right away if there are any signs of anaphylaxis, such as general swelling, itching, hives, or trouble breathing.
Since assasin bugs eat other insects and are good for the garden, getting rid of them is not a good idea. Most assassin bugs, like wheel bugs, are not very common and do not need to be killed with insecticides.
FAQs: Assasin Bug
What Is The Deadliest Assassin Bug?
The assasin bug, or the kissing bug, spreads Chagas disease, killing an average of 12,000 people each year.
Why Are They Called Assassin Bugs?
So, now you know what is the assasin bug? This group of bugs or “assassin bugs.” But this bug family has a name of “assassins” because they spread Chagas disease (also known as kissing bug disease). Their long mouthpieces allow them to pierce their prey, like other bugs, caterpillars, and flies. This is why they are called “assassins.”
Where Do You Find Assassin Bugs?
Kissing bugs or assassins, are found in the southern two-thirds of the United States, mostly in Arizona, California, Texas, and New Mexico. They live in tropical areas in the South, but climate change and global warming have be responsible for moving them farther north.
What Is The Difference Between An Assassin Bug And A Wheel Bug?
The wheel bug is a real bug, and it eats with its thick beak. It is an “assassin bug nymph,” which is a type of bug. It is the biggest of Kentucky’s assassin bugs. These are animals that eat soft-bodied insects like caterpillars, moths, and other soft bugs.
What Happens If An Assassin Bug Bites You?
As with any insect bite or sting, the person should go to the hospital right away if there are any signs of anaphylaxis, such as general swelling, itching, hives, or trouble breathing. Sometimes, assassin bugs have bright coloration when they are young. This may be to warn people that they bite.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.