Assassin Bug Nymph

2007 November 4

This week we have a bonus bug, courtesy of my daughter

So, while I was finishing off the posting yesterday about the western conifer seed bug, my daughter came charging into the room with something in her hand, announcing “Take picture, Dada! Take picture!”[1] So, I did. This is what she had:


This is the infamous assassin bug once again[2], only a nymph this time instead of an adult.


It was very 3-dimensional, making it really hard to get the whole insect in focus, but I tried. As I mentioned earlier, assassin bug nymphs tend to have lint and dirt stuck all over them for camouflage (this one probably had more before Sam handled it, and most likely knocked most of it off, but it is still pretty dirt-encrusted). The abdomen is interesting, it is deeply dished.


I’m not sure why that is, maybe it helps hold camouflage material on its back, or maybe it just lets the abdomen expand a lot when it eats. This time, I also got a side view of the mouthparts:


That thick tube is used both to quickly inject a large volume of digestive fluids into prey, and to suck out the nourishing slurry that the prey’s insides get converted into.

I’m beginning to think that being bitten by a non-bloodsucking assassin bug is kind of like being hit by lightning: bad if it happens, but not terribly likely. I mean, Sam was handling this one pretty roughly[3], and all it was doing was trying to get away. They obviously aren’t rare in houses, and I’d think that if they made a habit of taking a nip out of people, I would hear more about it.

[1] She’s only a bit over two and still working on the whole “language” thing, and I didn’t realize that she understood that Dada is going around taking pictures of insects. I guess she’s got the idea. At any rate, she’s got no fear of insects whatsoever (in spite of having been stung by a yellowjacket once already), and I expect we’re going to be hearing a lot from her on this site in the future.

[2] Since we already established that Reduvius personatus lives in our house, I’d say there are good odds that this is one of them.

[3] She had it by the hind legs. She was really proud of it, too: when I put it into a jar so it could be refrigerated for photography, she wanted to hold the jar and admire it for the longest time — she wouldn’t let me put it in the refrigerator for almost an hour.

7 Responses
  1. sandra permalink
    November 4, 2007

    What a cute little guy.

  2. Torria permalink
    May 31, 2008

    Hey, my 18 yr. old daughter got bitten 2 days ago by this nasty little bug, the adult version. She has an ugly, sizable hole in her forarm and its raised and red around the hole site, about the size of a 50 cent piece.

    She had crawled into bed and hugged her pillow to her by sticking her arm under her pillow when it struck! She found him right away and smooshed it and flushed him away. She just showed me the wound again 2+ days since the initial attack and the hole is still very pronounced and its still swollen, the red is more pink though. Shes been putting peroxide on it and a hydrocortozone cream because it itched like crazy she said. Thankfully she hasn’t had any other allergic reaction from it. Thanks for posting the photos you have here, it helped us identify the little critter.

  3. June 1, 2008

    Thanks for the first-hand account of the bite, it’s good to know what the actual effect is if it happens. Glad this post helped you identify the bug that did it. From everything I’ve read about arthropod bites, disinfecting the wound like that is an excellent idea, because a lot of the more severe consequences of bites are from secondary bacteria infections.

  4. Linda Sommercorn DDS permalink
    April 20, 2010

    These bugs can carry parasitic diesease called chagas and pass it on to humans if bitten. The parasite is actually referred to as T.Cruzi. The prevalence in US has increased since the 80’s due to immigrants from south america and Mexico. It has been estimated that at lease 1% of thes immigrants have the disease themselves. I think it might be a good idea to get your daughter tested for this.

  5. April 23, 2010

    While some assassin bugs can carry Chagas, I don’t think that this particular one (the Masked Hunter) is one of them. In order to transmit disease, it would have to not only bite you, but also have previously bitten another mammal that is hosting the disease. There are a number of species of assassin bugs that routinely bite humans and other mammals, but the Masked Hunter prefers other small arthropods and is only likely to bite a human if provoked.

  6. Janice Silver permalink
    June 27, 2011

    I have heard that chewing up some plaintain from the yard and putting that on a bite and wrapping it up for a while helps with the pain and sting and has antibacterial properties. And no, not the banana. Google it.

  7. June 28, 2011

    I think that this is the plantain you meant:

    I’ve never seen that one growing locally, the plantain we have growing around here is this one:

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