The Assassin bug is an insect that delivers a very painful sting. It is common throughout the country, including Houston. It has a powerful beak that it uses to launch a violent attack on its prey, stabbing it to death. It is not necessarily aggressive toward humans but when it feels threatened it will attack and it is quite unpleasant to be on the receiving end of its sting.
It tucks its beak under its head until it is ready to use it. The body is long and thin, between 12 mm and 13 mm in length. The nymph has a red or red and black segmented body with long legs and the tail is curved upward. Its appearance makes it look like a stinging insect, but it doesn’t sting – it bites. It also has long antennae and may have stripes or spots on its body and legs. As the insect matures the body widens and flattens. It may have stripes or spots.
The kissing bug is a sub-species of the assassin bug. The kissing bug has been connected to Chagas disease, which can damage the major organs causing severe illness and even death. The kissing bug doesn’t look much like the assassin bug, although they are related.
Both of these insects are part of the family Reduviidae which is under the order Hamiptera, or “true bugs.” The Reduviidae family is a rather large cosmopolitan, meaning its population range is far reaching, covering many different areas throughout the world.
The assassin bug hides in bushes, garden plants, and ground cover. They do not feed on the plants but instead use them as their hunting ground. They will hide in the plants waiting for their prey to come close so they can attack. They have very strong front legs that they use to hold down their prey as they stab it, inject the body with venom, and suck out the body fluids.
If you see one of these insects you should not try to pick it up or you may get a nasty surprise. It is said that the bite of this bug is extremely painful, feeling much like a bee sting. The area around the bite may swell and become numb. The assassin bug isn’t likely to pass on any diseases, but the kissing bug may. It is best to just avoid them. If you see them around or in your home you may want to hire a professional to get rid of them for you, especially if you have kids or pets.