Pale Green Assassin Bug

2018 January 28

We found this rather elongated, thin-legged true bug on July 19, 2017


Some of the distinctive features are the two spines projecting sideways from the middle of the thorax, the elongated head with a thin neck, and the pretty solid-looking piercing-sucking mouthparts.




This is pretty clearly an assassin bug, and further I think it is most likely the Pale Green Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus. BugGuide says that the common name of Pale Green Assassin Bug is unfortunate, because they aren’t always pale green. In fact, this may well be the same species as the somewhat mangled specimen that Rosie presented me with back in 2014, even though that one was darker on the back and had a redder abdomen.

The assassin bugs in this genus are considered beneficial predators, because they eat all manner of small pest insects including boll weevils, leafhoppers, and a wide range of moth caterpillars. They have the interesting adaptation of oozing a sticky substance on their legs, that they can use to hold onto their prey with.

While this exact species doesn’t seem to be sold commercially for pest control, the closely related Zelus renardii is available from ARBICO Organics. They are a bit pricey, at $36 per 250 eggs (which comes to about 14 cents per bug), although they are supposed to be pretty good about hanging around the area where they are released. So they may sometimes be more effective than some other, more-mobile predatory insects, particularly if you are dealing with a small area like a garden.

3 Responses
  1. January 29, 2018

    Not sure how effective these guys are, but we’ve had outstanding results with ladybugs. We typically get one serious aphid infestation a year and a single treatment with a container of ladybugs annihilates them overnight.

  2. January 31, 2018

    I expect that it is best to choose the predator based on the pest. Ladybugs and lacewings are definitely aphid specialists. If the problem is more in the small caterpillar line, then something like these assassin bugs would be more appropriate. And for slugs and large caterpillars, the larger predatory beetles would be better.

    My approach in our climate is to mostly just encourage the native predators in general, and they seem to take care of things without us having to buy predators ourselves. This is mainly possible because of the way that winter hits “reset” on the pest population every year, and they rarely have time to build up real plagues. It just amuses me that one *can* go out and buy predatory insects, and that they are available for use by people who can’t count on the winter to do most of the pest suppression.

  3. Sarah permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Hi, I can’t find a contact email on this blog but I would like to use a few of your photos for a university project. Please let me know if you would be happy for me to do so 🙂

Comments are closed.