It should not be hard to believe that assassin bugs are among the meanest predators in the insect community. Their name alone, “assassin bugs” is a menacing enough moniker. There has already been a fair amount of research conducted on assassin bugs, but experts are still learning about how brutal these insects can be. Assassin bugs comprise three hundred different species of insects that belong to the Reduviidae family. Scientists have long been aware that assassin bugs kill their prey with deadly forms of venom, but now researchers are learning that these bugs possess multiple venom glands and two distinct types of venom. This may not sound impressive, but assassin bugs are the only animals in the world that produce two distinct types of venom.
The new research being carried out on assassin bugs is being led by a molecular bio-scientist named Andrew Walker from Australia’s University of Queensland. According to Walker, there are two types of venom produced by assassin bugs. One type of venom is used to dominate prey, and the other venom is used to repel predatory insects. Each type of venom is made up of more than one hundred different toxins. When an assassin bug feeds on prey it will inject its proboscis into its victim. The assassin bug then injects venom-laced saliva into its prey. This venom paralyzes prey and it liquefies the insects internal organs so that they can be sucked through the assassin bug’s proboscis.
In 2010 a new assassin bug species was found by researchers in New Zealand. The species was named Stenolemus giraffa, and it is a particularly horrific type of assassin bug. This species hunts down spiders, which are rare predatory targets for small insects. The assassin bug will stalk its spider prey before eventually striking the unexpecting spider with its mouthparts. Walker believes that the many toxins found within the assassin bug’s two distinct venoms could be used for insect pest control purposes.
Have you ever spotted an assassin bug in the wild? Are you familiar with this insects extremely painful bite?
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