Assassin bugs are the “kissing bugs” that feed on human blood and cast a lethal sting on their preys. Living by their name, they lead a proficient predatory lifestyle.
Assassin bugs, or Reduviidae, are the four-legged insects that are found primarily in tropical areas of America and some parts of Africa, Asia and Australia. They breed by injecting eggs into living humans hosts. They feed on humans as well as arthropods.
They belong to the vast cosmopolitan family of order Hemiptera (true bugs) and are members of subfamily Triatominae. They are also known by many other names such as vampire bugs, conenose and kissing bugs. And in Latin America, its local names are pitos, chinches, vinchucas and barbeiros.
So let’s know some interesting facts about these bloodsucking insects called assassin bugs.
For being the clever predators that they are, the assassin bugs use clever tactics to catch their prey. The termite-eating assassin bugs use dead termites for attracting the living ones. The South-Asian assassin bugs coat their legs with tree resin for attracting bees.
From rodents and spiders to praying mantis and birds to other assassin bugs, these bugs have natural enemies on which they prey.
The mouths of an assassin bug is intended to pierce and suck juices from the body of its prey. The three segments and single tube in its beak is used for transmitting poisonous saliva.
The poisonous saliva of the assassin bugs starts doing its work almost instantly. Cockroaches have been known to die in just 3-4 seconds and 40 times bulkier caterpillars die in just 10 seconds.
The female assassin bugs are great at hunting their preys as they require more protein in their diet for laying eggs.
These bugs not only bite but also “kiss” humans and spread a serious infectious disease known as Chagas disease. As is known, Chagas disease damages major organs like heart and can even lead to heart failure.
By inducing poison into the human body, they can cause local and even complex reactions by feeding on human blood near a human’s mouth.
Milkweed assassin bugs are the prevailing and truly beneficial insect predators for local gardeners of Galveston County in the US. These bugs have long black legs and antenna and bright red body. They help in eating aphids, stink bugs, armyworms, houseflies and other pests in the gardens.
The lifespan of an assassin bug is nearly a year. They incubate from eggs in early summer and live up till late fall in the wild. In the ideal environment, an assassin bug in captivity may live through most of the winter.
In the fantasy RPG (role-playing game) Dungeons and Dragons, the assassin bug is a breed of vermin critter.
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