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REDUVIIDAE Assassin Bugs

Pristhesancus plagipennis Adult face on

Ass
Photo: Robert Whyte

Assassin bugs are a large family of bugs (REDUVIIDAE) found everywhere in Australia. Assassin bugs ambush their prey, usually other insects, piercing them with their curved rostrum. A corrosive saliva is injected, rendering the prey liquid and able to be sucked up.

Pristhesancus plagipennis, the Common Assassin Bug, is found all over Brisbane hunting on plants for any insects that they can catch, especially honey bees. They have a long head with a powerful proboscis for puncturing prey which can inflict a painful jab.

Pristhesancus plagipennis Adult from above


Assassin Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Adult bugs are brown with translucent wings. Early stage nymphs are black with brightly orange abdomens. Later stage nymphs are similar to adults except smaller and wingless.

Pristhesancus plagipennis 2nd stage Nymph


Assassin Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

Early nymphs are all legs and abdomen. Nymphs pass through five growth stages to become an adult bugs via incomplete metamorphosis.

Pristhesancus plagipennis 4th or 5th instar


Assassin Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

The instars (stages) are more colourful, a defence mechanism to advertise possibly distasteful chemicals, whereas the duller adults have wings and can avoid predation by flying.

Pristhesancus plagipennis 3rd or 4th instar


Assassin Bug

This 3rd or 4th instar of the Common Assassin Bug was hiding in amongs the leaves of a Cedar Bay Cherry (Eugenia reinwardtiana) then when disturbed dropped to the grass below, but did not run away, clearly confident its bright colours would warn away predators.

Havinthus rufovarius Red Tiger Assassin Bug


Bug
Photo: Robert Whyte

This Assassin Bug is red and black, with stripes giving it the common name Red Tiger. The wingless nymph has a similar colour scheme. Arthropod-feeder, predator, terrestrial.
Feeds on blossom feeding insects.