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Fast Facts:

  • These bugs have shiny black bodies with two yellowish-white spots on their backs. They also have a yellow band on each leg.

  • They are able to excrete a repulsive liquid as a means of defense.

ASSASSIN BUG

Scientific Name: Platymeris biguttata
Classification: Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Uniramia Class: Insecta Order: Hemiptera Family: Reduviidae
Status: Stable
Range: Tropical Africa: Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Niger
Habitat: Humid tropical forests
Diet: Grass and low level leaves
Size: 35mm long with males slightly longer than females
Lifespan: 2 years
Location:
Print Fact Sheet Assassin Bug

Behavior & Social Structure

As predators, they avoid light, but do not hesitate to emerge in broad daylight if prey is very near. Two or three individuals sometimes devour the same prey.

To attack, an assassin bug stalks its prey, seizes and holds it down with its legs, bites it with its stylets (piercing organs located near its mouth), and injects it with saliva containing an enzyme. This allows it to feed by external digestion. It then withdraws to a quiet spot to suck out the liquefied contents of its prey.

Defensive reactions result only from physical attack. If grabbed (immobilized) in such a way that the rostrum can contact skin it will give a bite worse than a bee sting. It can also spit venom.

All insects are often referred to as bugs but in reality only those which posses certain criteria can actually be classed as such. The main criteria for bugs are that they have mouth parts formed into a needle-like structure which is designed to suck the juices out of plants or other insects rather than chewing, their wings are exposed rather than being protected by wing cases but the top part can be toughened and that they all go through an incomplete stage of metamorphosis. The latter part means that the bugs don't have a pupae stage but are like miniature adults.

Breeding & Care of Young
White spot assassin bugs reproduce sexually, but are also able to reproduce by parthenogenesis: females can lay fertile eggs without being fertilized by a male. Eggs are dropped in the dirt rather than in a nest or mass. Egg to adult takes six to nine weeks with the first molting at two weeks old.

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