Common Names: Assassin Bug, Giant Wheel Bug, Wheel Bug
Scientific Name: Order Heteroptera, family Reduviidae, many species
Size: Adult--3/8" to 1 5/8"
Identification: Various colors and sizes, look like skinny stink bugs or leaf-footed bugs. Abdomen often flares out beneath the wings. Head is elongate with a groove between the eyes. Short curved rostrum (swordlike snout) fits in groove under body. Strong front legs to hold prey. Adults can give you a painful bite if handled but rarely do.
Biology and Life Cycle: Eggs usually laid singly or in clusters on branches, in crevices, and under stones and the like. Nymphs are often brightly colored. Incomplete life cycle--with normally one generation per season. Will hibernate in all life forms--eggs, nymphs, and adults.
Habitat: Many ornamental and food crops.
Feeding Habits: Eat adults, nymphs, and larvae of many plant-eating insects. Like to eat troublesome insects from mosquitoes to large beetles. Favorite foods include aphids, leafhoppers, beetle larvae, caterpillars, and small flying insects.
Economic Importance: Control many troublesome plant-eating insects.
Natural Control: Spiders and themselves. The young feed on each other.
Organic Control: None needed, highly beneficial.
Insight: Assassin bugs in the genus Triatoma, called kissing bugs, bite people at night. They are blood feeders. See Kissing Bug.