January 24th – Assassin Bug

Assassin Bug (Reduviidae)

Another visit from one of my gardens pesky inhabitants, the Assassin Bug (family Reduviidae). This is either a Common Assassin Bug, or a Bee Killer Assassin Bug (Pristhesancus plagipennis).

All things bright and beautiful? Not quite, it’s quite a hideous looking insect. All of the legs are elongated, which aids its predatory style – lurking among the growth and attacking unsuspecting insects from distance.

You can almost hear it reciting Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – “I’ll do you if you call me ‘Big Nose’ again!”.

In the centre of this photo you can see it’s proboscis, or rostrum which is tucked back under its body. It uses this to puncture insects and inject them with a saliva that liquifies their insides.

Some species of Assassin bug will then wear the carcass of their prey to lure their friends to an untimely dinner-date.

Their bite is mostly harmless to humans, though the saliva will initially cause a burning sensation, which turns into an itchy lump that lasts for several days.

The long head immediately reminds me of the trusty lab assistant Beaker from The Muppets.

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