the face that only a mother could love

Earlier this week, when I posted the first piece on the Phymata (Ambush Bug), in the comments, romunov posted a photo of a very handsome Assassin Bug (family Reduviidae). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the most common species seen around our farm – I believe all of ours are Spined Assassin Bugs (Sinea diadema) – a rather homely looking creature with a “face” that only a mother could love.

At this time of the year, I often find Assassin Bugs perched atop Brown-eyed Susan flowers, as in the above photo taken yesterday (click on image for larger view). Later in the summer, they seem to hang out on Yarrow flowers. Although they may not look the part — being rather gangly and fragile-looking — they are actually formidable predators. They have powerful front legs used to grasp their prey, and a very sharp beak which is kept folded beneath their bodies when not attacking or feeding (see photo below). They have strange movements — seeming a bit clumsy and slow, but they are obviously quick enough when on the attack as they catch a wide range of winged prey.

I can’t really tell you much more about Assassin Bugs as I haven’t spent a lot of time observing them as yet. I frequently see them from late July through to mid-September. Unlike Phymata, which seem to be a bit sociable – 2 or sometimes 3 hanging out on the same flowerhead – Assassin Bugs seem to be loners. I’ve never seen two together on the same plant. They seem very plentiful around the farm this year, especially on the Brown-eyed Susans which are blooming in huge numbers compared to past years. Perhaps with so many present, I’ll have a good chance to observe these strange-looking insects this year.

Tags: , ,

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Trackback URI:
  • Comments RSS 2.0

5 Responses to “the face that only a mother could love”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    I can really see the folded beak in that second photo. What an interesting bit of evolutionary history that must be!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Robin – The beak is pretty long and comes to a very sharp point. Phymata have a very similar beak, as do many of the predatory species of Stink bugs. And yes, they must have an interesting evolutionary history. I particularly think that with the Stink bugs as some are mainly plant feeders, while others feed on other insects, and yet the difference in appearance is not that great. Odd how (and why) they must have evolved a little differently.

  3. Patty Ann Smith Says:

    The HEADLINE you gave this post shows your passion for all creatures great and small…which is such an important thing for us humans to have as long as we live on this Earth. The work you are doing here is VERY important.

  4. jimmy Says:

    These are great….you sure spend alot of time studing insects.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Patty – Thanks, and yes, I do have a passion for all creatures, large, small, beautiful, homely — doesn’t much matter to me. I do think that it’s important to understand all creatures and how they fit into the greater fabric of the natural world.

    Jimmy – Yes, you bet I do!! (-: