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Assassin Bug (Zelus luridus) | by sankax
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Assassin Bug (Zelus luridus)

Assassin bugs belong to the family Reduviidae. They have a specialized mouthpart called a beak or rostrum, which folds up under their head when not in use. They use these beaks to pierce other insects, and then suck up their liquified insides. Assassin bugs may wander up and down plant stems looking for prey, or they often choose to lay in wait on a flower, waiting for an unsuspecting pollinator to come along. Then they grab them with their powerful forearms, stab them with their beak and feed.


They use the long rostrum to inject a lethal saliva that liquefies the insides of the prey, which are then sucked out. The legs of some of these bugs are covered in tiny hairs that serve to make them sticky to hold onto their prey while they feed. The saliva is commonly effective at killing substantially larger prey than the bug itself. It also irritates any human unlucky enough to be bitten. As nymphs, some species will cover and camouflage themselves with debris, or the remains of dead prey insects. Some species have been known to feed on cockroaches or bedbugs and are regarded in many locations as beneficial. Some people breed them as pets and for insect control.


Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro mounted on a Canon XTi.

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Taken on June 2, 2009