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?
Did you guess the identities of the milkweed insects from last week? Let’s check.
- The yellow-orange insects on the stem are aphids. More specifically, they are the oleander aphid, Aphis nerii. Hint: Aphids are the ones with two “tailpipes” or cornicles on the back.
2. The red and black one insect might be hard to tell from this angle, but it is a true bug. A little one with two white dots in the wing is a small milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii.
3. This one was tough because the photograph isn’t very close. It is an assassin bug, Zelus renardii. It is probably waiting for a bee or fly to capture.
4. I think everyone recognized the praying mantis. In this case, it is the Mediterranean mantis, Iris oratoria. (See previous post).
5. This one is tricky. Cirrelda correctly recognized it is a lady beetle.
6. The pale green oval at the end of the hairlike stalk is the egg of a lacewing. (Life cycle in previous post).
7. The cute striped caterpillar will turn into a monarch butterfly.
At this time of year, the butterfly will probably migrate farther north to lay its eggs on another milkweed plant.
We’re glad it stopped by.
What insects are on the zinnias this week?
This little assassin bug nymph has orange spots that match the flower heads.
I doubt this Geron bee fly is fooled.
Getting outdoors is a great way to celebrate Earth Day.
Are you doing anything special for Earth Day today?