Bug of the Week: All About Assassin Bugs

We have shown photographs of assassin bugs before, but let's learn more about them.

(Assassin Bug Egg Mass by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology)

Assassin bugs start out as eggs like the ones above.

The eggs hatch into colorful nymphs. They are small at first.

Assassin bugs often are found sitting on flowers lying in wait for other insects to visit. If another insect, such as a fly, caterpillar or leafhopper, comes into reach the assassin bug will capture it and feed on it. Assassin bugs are true bugs, which means their mouthparts are straw-like beaks that are usually tucked under their heads.

As it feeds and molts, the nymph becomes larger. This individual is almost an adult. You can tell by the size of the wing pads on the back of the thorax.

This is an adult assassin bug. Look how its color has changed, such as the legs have gone from spotted to solid green. Now its wings are red and cover the back of the abdomen. If you look really close, you may be able to see its beak curving under its head.

Look at those long antennae. That's one way it senses its food. It also uses its long front legs.

Assassin bugs like these are members of the genus Zelus. They are common throughout North America.

Have you ever seen an assassin bug like this?

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