Assassin Bugs (REDUVIIDAE)

Bugs (Hemiptera)

Assassin bugs are a large family of bugs 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.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Common Assassin Bug Adult

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.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Common Assassin Bug Second Stage Nymph

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

Common Assassin Bug Fourth Or Fifth Instar

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.
Photo: Robert Whyte 

Common Assassin Bug Third Or Fourth Instar

This third or fourth instar of the Common Assassin Bug was hiding in amongst the leaves of a Cedar Bay Cherry Eugenia reinwardtiana. When disturbed it dropped to the grass below, but did not run away, clearly confident its bright colours would warn away predators.
Photo: Robert Whyte 

Red Tiger Assassin Bug

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