Assassin Bugs, Kissing Bugs & Bee Assassins from Costa Rica
Commonly referred to as Bee Assassins, these slick predators wait atop flowers and other plants to catch bees and other insects that feed off the vegetation.
Assassin Bugs or Kissing Bugs, as they are sometimes referred to, are found from the northern United States to as far south as Argentina in the Americas. Their habitat is anywhere that they can find plenty of other insects to eat, but they prefer open areas in wet or dry climates.
Mating & Reproduction
Bee Assassins do not make the greatest bedfellows. They are territorial to an extreme, and males have to attack their mate in order to procreate. It is better for a male kissing bug to try to mount the female when she is eating, and therefore distracted enough not to eat the male or fight with him. Their mating may last until the following morning, and the female continues hunting throughout the affair. Once finished, the two must back away slowly from each other, or they may in turn eat one another. Females eat males more often than to the contrary.
After a successful copulation, the female lays eight to thirty one cylindrical eggs in to the earth. The mothers apply a sticky resin to the area where the eggs are produced on her body. This resin both protects the eggs, and it provides the new born nymphs with a means to catch prey.
The biggest threat to Kissing Bugs is Kissing Bugs. They don’t have many other predators due to their powerful defensive bite. They are, however, very effective predators themselves. They wait where they know their prey is coming to feed, and they pounce when they see what they want. The Bee Assassin uses a clever tactic of applying tree resin to their feet and abdomen. This resin helps the Assassin bug to trap its prey. It then stabs the insect and liquefies its inside to eat it.
Assassin bugs are important in agriculture in controlling crop pests. They are also important in that they are carries of a parasitic disease, and this is where they get the name Kissing Bug. They are known to bite sleeping humans, and impart the parasites to the victim. The disease, known as Chagas ’ disease, can result in death caused by heart failure, but it is a rarity.
All three bugs belong to the family reduviidae, and are not necessarily the same species. They are often considered conspecific.
Locations in Costa Rica: Barra Honda National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: diverse wet and dry forest
Size: length=12-14 mm
Species: Apiomerus pictipes