Thursday, 24 October 2013

Assassin Bug

Assassin bug
The bug: True to its name, this bug creeps up on prey, using its curved beak to inject saliva that liquefies the captive’s innards, which it then sucks up leaving only the exterior shell of its prey behind. Assassins range from tiny to longer than an inch. They have long heads on narrow necks and range in colour from dark to pale with splashes of brown, black, orange or red.

The benefit: They eat beetles, mosquitoes, bedbugs, aphids, caterpillars and flies, but they can be tough to have around because they also eat bees, and some species bite humans when cornered and carry disease.

Assassin bugs lay their eggs during the warmer months on leaves or in the soil. Their eggs resemble brown barrels and are found standing in tight, upright clusters. The eggs hatch in the spring in the nymph stage. Nymphs look very similar to adults except that they have yet to develop wings. Nymphs go through five instars, or short developmental stages where they shed their exoskeleton in order to grow. During these instars (which can last up to three months), assassin bug nymphs develop wings and become adults. They will live as adults for another 6-12 months.

Assassin bugs are known to both seek out and sit and wait for their prey. They will spend most of their time hunting on and feeding on the leaves of trees and bushes. If there is not an adequate food supply they will move on to other plants that have. Once they have located their prey they will grab hold of them with their strong forearms and use the beak of their mouth to pierce its body. 

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