Assassin bugs (August 29, 2013)

We get a lot of assassin bug identification requests in the winter when the insects have moved inside houses and occasionally bite people. They do bite, but in the case of people it is because they are trapped near the skin; they don't seek us out as a food source. Assassin bugs are predators of other insects and use their straw-like beaks to puncture the body of their prey and suck out the juices. It is very common to see these insects in the outdoors during summer and occasionally they will be found eating another insect. They are slow-moving and easy to see when they are perched and waiting for their meal to walk by. Assassin bugs don't have venom and do not sting, but their bite is sufficient to get one's attention. 

Assassin bug, probably in the genus Zelus. Photo Credit: Patrick Porter

Assassin bug, probably in the genus Zelus, eating a small fly. Photo Credit: Patrick Porter