Common Name: Assassin Bug
Scientific Name: Apiomerus californicus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Reduriidae
Genus: Apiomerus
Species: A. californicus

 

Have you ever wondered why the assassin bug was called the assassin bug?  Scientists call it that because of its feeding habits. The assassin bug lives throughout the world. It is most common in coastal regions and coastal mountain ranges.  Many people mistake the assassin bug for the kissing bug, a distant relative.

To begin with, the assassin bug is relatively large. It ranges from 11 to 37 mm.  All assassin bugs have 2 antennae, 6 jointed legs, and an exoskeleton made out of chitin.  The bug is blackish with a little red on the side.  They can sometimes be brightly colored while others are brownish. Adults are commonly black, reddish, or brown, with long, slender legs, a narrow head, and round beady eyes.  They have toxins in the assassin bug's saliva to paralyze its prey.  Also, most assassin bugs have sticky hair on their front legs which help grasp prey.

Second off, most assassin bugs live in rain forests while others live in coastal regions or coastal mountain ranges, over all they live throughout the world.  They thrive in there ecosystem because they live around rain forests, which means there is a rich food supply that keeps there population growing.  There are over 100 types of assassin bugs in North America and 3000 species recorded.

Lastly, the assassin bug has many predators and also, lots of prey. They get there name from there feeding habits because they grab small invertebrates and suck there blood.  Most of them feed on insects, while others feed on plants.  The assassin bug also has many predators.  Birds, snakes, and reptiles like to eat the assassin bug, while we humans consider them a nuisance.  The assassin bug has powerful forelegs to keep whatever its feeding on from getting away.

All in all, the assassin bug got its name because of its feeding habits.  The assassin bug can transmit diseases because some of them feed on humans.  Apart from the fact that they can be very harmful, they are also helpful. Most assassin bugs kill many pests in our garden. Some farmers even buy a population of assassin bugs and let them lose around their crops.  The assassin bug’s bite is very painful.  They might be harmful and dangerous, but they are very important and useful to humans.

Author: Vincent N.
Published: 3/13

Internet sources: http://bugguide.net/node/view/4429www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/incects/assassinbug/assassincolor.shtml
http://insects.about.com/od/truebugs/p/assassinbugs.htm
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Photo Credit: Alice Abele 2010

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