Assassin Bug Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from assassin bugs by learning techniques for identification and control.
Types of Assassin Bugs
What do assassin bugs look like?
Adult assassin bugs are usually ½ to ¾ inches long. Many species are brown or black, but some species can be orange, yellow, or red. Their bodies are usually oval and elongated with membranous wings and long, thin antennae. The middle of the abdomen is often widened, so the wings don’t completely cover the width of the body. Their elongated head is narrow with a distinct “neck” behind their eyes. Their long, curved mouthparts form a “beak” that is carried beneath the body, with the tip fitting in a groove on the underside of the body. This “beak” is used like a straw to feed on fluids they suck from their prey’s body.
The wheel bug, Arilus cristatus, is one of the largest and most easily recognized assassin bugs. The adult is about 1 1/4″ long, gray in color, and has a semicircular crest on the upper back that looks like a cogwheel.
How do I get rid of assassin bugs?
What You Can Do
Getting rid of assassin bugs is not a DIY project, especially if they have infested your home. Ways to control or prevent assassin bugs from entering the home include:
Seal any gaps, cracks, or crevices around the home.
Clear the perimeter around your home of leaves and remove any rodent nests.
Swap out regular lightbulbs for yellow bug lights instead.
Install screens on all your windows and doors.
If you find assassin bugs in or around your home, call an Orkin Pro for help in controlling these insects. To learn more about assassin bugs and other pests, contact your local Orkin branch.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Understanding Assassin Bugs
What do assassin bugs eat?
Adult and nymph assassin bugs are predators that feed on a wide variety of prey ranging from aphids, flies, small insects, and larger ones like caterpillars. Prey is captured with a quick stab of the assassin bug’s long mouthparts. After being immobilized by a paralyzing toxin, the prey’s body fluids are then drawn through the assassin bug’s straw-like mouthparts.
Assassin Bug Species
There are more than 160 species in the family Reduviidae in North America. Because there are so many different species of assassin bugs, not all of them look quite the same.
Do assassin bugs bite?
Assassin bugs can inflict a painful bite that results in inflammation that can persist for a few days. Although assassin bugs are generally not aggressive toward humans, they may bite if they feel threatened. Their venomous bites are intensely painful and in rare cases can even cause anaphylactic reactions.
Some of the best-known assassin bugs are the members of the subfamily Triatominae, commonly known as triatomine bugs or kissing bugs. These bugs feed exclusively on the blood of vertebrate animals and humans. Although generally rare, they are most common around animal nests or pet resting areas and emerge at night to search for a blood meal. Their bites are painless and usually occur while people are asleep. On humans, blood meals are sometimes taken from the tender areas of the face— hence the common name “kissing bug”. Other bite sites can include the hands, arms, feet, head, and trunk. Victims are frequently unaware of the bites until the following morning when unexplained reddened areas may be present on the skin where the kissing bug bit them.
Kissing bugs can be carriers of the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi which causes Chagas’ disease– a disease that occurs most commonly from Mexico into South America, although some cases of “kissing bug disease” are also reported in the US.