Assassin Bug Nymph

What an odd-looking creature I found on my desert milkweed flower this week. It is bright orange with striped legs. Look at the black spines on back end (abdomen). It also seems to have its straw-like beak piercing a black insect.

This insect is a young assassin bug, a stage called a nymph. If it were an adult, it would have wings.

Assassin bugs use their front legs to capture other insects for food. They stick their proboscis or beak into their victim and suck out the juices. In this case the nymph has caught a tiny parasitic wasp. The wasp was probably searching for aphids, which is what its larvae use for food.

assassin bug nymph

Edit:  I was able to find an adult to show in this later post.


  1. Liz

    Thanks Roberta! What an awesome photo shot! That is amazing! So I am guessing this Assassin Bug is handy to have around the garden, if it eats aphids?

  2. Roberta

    Hi Liz,

    Yes, these are considered to be beneficial insects. Even though the name sounds fierce, they are actually great to have around.

  3. Czarina

    Would the assassin bug also target monarch caterpillars? I caught a nymph and have a big aphid problem on my milkweed but I don’t want to release it if it will also attack the caterpillars.

  4. Roberta

    Assassin bugs probably wouldn’t go after aphids, so it would be better off if you released it on another plant. Flower fly larvae and parasitic wasps do eat milkweed aphids. You can see aphid mummies here and the wasps here

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