Assassin Bug

On a recent walk, I stopped to admire the drying blooms of Queen Anne’s Lace. I love the way the blossom heads curl inward into lacy balls. I pulled one closer to take a quick photo when this insect popped from the center of the head. It’s an assassin bug (Pselliopus cinctus), a colorful true bug that dines on other insects.

It looks a bit like he has dressed early for Halloween as I see a mask on its back… the eyes, nose and wide opened mouth. Can you see the face?

It isn’t a fast moving bug but I made sure it didn’t crawl on me. It has a ‘beak,’ a weapon used to paralyze prey with a toxin, then suck the victim dry. That weapon can also pierce the human skin and inject a toxin. I have never been stabbed by an assassin bug but I keep a respectful distance.

It is not a nuisance in the garden and can be handy eliminating some naughty garden insects…. better than insecticides. When I see assassin bug in the garden, I do nothing. We coexist among the blooms.

The face disappears in this view but now you can admire its lovely striped legs and antennae.

IMG_5759Here is a great view from Wikimedia of the wicked ‘beak.’

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pselliopus_cinctus_UGA1366047.jpg