Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A new creepy-crawly in the garden

Have you seen this bug before? I saw one of these for the first time yesterday.

Not knowing what it was, I photographed it cautiously. The bug was cautious with me too. He waved his little antennae and sort of pranced around. Eventually, I just sat the camera down in front of him and let him walk toward me. That usually works well for me with photographing animals too. I don't know if they see the lens as one big black eye looking at them or what. But the camera lens appears to be less threatening to them than a human getting near (as if one big black eye sounds so safe).

Check out the striped legs! It's a little hard to see, but this bug also has red eyes. And a spiny looking backside. I don't know if it's fuzzy or spiky, and I'm pretty sure I'm never going to know.

The bug looks a little like a spider in the pic above. When I searched for photos of similar bugs, I found some like this labeled "spider". I guess people saw the antennae as legs.

Look at the curved body. This curve gave me a clue to what the bug might be. I noticed that the "Assassin Bugs" pictured online had the same curved body. But none of those were dark in color. After more searching, I found bugs like mine labeled as "Assassin Bug Nymphs". So this is like a teenage Assassin Bug.

At first I was fine with that, because what I knew of Assassin Bugs was that they ate a lot of garden pests. They're a lot like spiders in insect form. They hide and wait and then leap out for the kill. Gross Alert: Their curved bodies appear to be of good use in carrying the corpses of their victims. I saw pics online of Assassin Bugs wearing what looked like capes made of ant bodies. If you're ready to say "Eww!" you can look that up. Or I can help you be grossed out:

Assassin Bug carrying ant bodies

Hmm... and according to that web site, the Assassin Bug will suck the bodies of its prey dry, like a vampire!

Now, while it's great that this bug will grow up to be a garden helper by cleaning out the pests, I also read that it could be dangerous to humans. I'm not sure how seriously to take this but I read that Assassin Bugs will leave you in a lot of pain if they bite you. Also, I read that they're called "Kissing Bugs" because they bite people near their lips at night! (Eww again)

Their bites can carry something called Chagas Disease, which is a parasitic infection. Then I read that Chagas Disease can attack the organs and be fatal! So... I'm not sure how cute this bug is looking to me anymore. I'll definitely step carefully around them.

I'd be interested in anything you guys have to add! Do you think I've identified this bug correctly? Do you think Assassin Bugs are actually that much of a threat to humans? It's good to know what different bugs do and if they're a threat. I feel like every day, there's a new one to learn about!

*UPDATE* This is not an Assassin Bug nymph. (Thankfully!) Stephen suggested that I contact the UW Madison Department of Entomology. I sent them some pics of this bug and was told that it is a leaf footed bug, part of the Coreidae family. You can see where the "leaf footed" part comes from. I was also told that my bug might grow into one of these or something closely related: Species Acanthocephala terminalis

And guess what? It turns out Kissing Bugs aren't even in my state. So there's something I don't need to worry about anymore!


  1. I am not convinced it's anot assassin bug, have you checked out this site?
    I took a look through the categories, but nothing looked similar. You should contact the lab.

    1. Stephen ~ I hadn't checked out that site! Thanks for looking that up and sending it to me. I found the Milwaukee County section, so I'll see about contacting them. It certainly isn't an adult Assassin Bug. If anything, it's a youngster. There seems to be a range of how the adults can look, but they're all bright colored from what I've seen online. It would be interesting to hear what the lab has to say about this one!

  2. I've heard of Assassin Bugs but have never seen this type. It looks almost alien!

    1. Dex ~ It does! I think this bug could provide great inspiration for anyone making a Sci-Fi movie or a giant insect B Movie. Can you imagine this creature shown as a giant monster scaling over a hill? Like in so many of the old movies I've seen...

      It could be scarier than the usual giant bugs with that spiny back and red eyes. Not to mention that it sucks the blood out of its victims!

    2. It reminded me of the bugs from Starship Troopers:

    3. Dex ~ I can totally see that resemblance! The legs on that bug have the same kind of stripe and bend. I wonder if someone was inspired by nature?