Assassin bug, friend or foe?

slowpoke_gardenerJuly 3, 2012

I am seeing an increasing number of these, Assassin bugs, I think. I have read different views on these and would like to know, should I try to kill them or leave them alone? I have been leaving them alone, but I have read that some carry disease.

Larry

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scottokla(7)

I have HUGE numbers of these this year on pecan trees.

They are big-time friends for me.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We have them all over the place this year too, but especially in the veggie garden. Assasin bugs are very helpful and I'm always thrilled to have them around. I wouldn't do a thing to hurt them. The type of assassin beetle I most often see here is the Wheel Bug, but there are quite a few different kinds.

Larry, Are you thinking about the "kissing bug" form of assassin beetle that spreads Chaga's Disease? I don't even know if they are found in the USA yet or are still only in South American or Central America, but I wouldn't worry about them being here.

However, some people will have a mild reaction to an Assassin Bug bite (they only bite if they feel threatened by you) sort of like their body might react to a wasp or scorpion bite. If bitten, and it feels worse than that sort of bite, it wouldn't hurt to call your doctor to see if he or she wants you to come in to the office or go to the emergency room.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Assasin Bug and Chaga's Disease

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 8:47PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Dawn, that is it. I was reading on another forum and there seemed to be many opinions, beings as I have a lot of faith in this forum I thought I would ask here. The link you posted pretty well clears thing up. I did not feel they were a threat, but want to check.

Thanks, Larry

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:06PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I have moved them from my long weedy driveway to my garden. They stab stink bugs so they are friends of mine. I don't and wouldn't want to handle them. I carry them on the weed that they are on when I find them. They are slow and not aggressive but I stay clear of them and admire from a distance.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:17PM
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mulberryknob

I can't tell you how many Japanese Beetles I have seen in the maws of one of these. We have dozens in our garden this year. I think these predators have increased because their prey has increased.

And concerning getting bitten. DH was in the garden in his slides and somehow one got trapped under the top band of the shoe. It bit and he had a red welt for a week.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:46PM
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okievegan

They have gone after my dogs in the past. Whenever the dogs get bitten, they SCREAM and then continue wailing for quite some time afterwards. The bite site is always extremely tender and sensitive to anything touching it. I've seen my little dog wince when the sheet touches it. My dogs are small...Maltese. I don't want them to be afraid of going outside, so when I find those bugs, I either relocate them far away if I have time, or squash them if I don't (like if I find one during my lunch break). I hate killing anything, but my dogs come first.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:55PM
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macmex

We have plenty around here too. I have two or three camped out around my bee hives and I have witnessed them eating bees. But, I know that, just like the praying mantis, they are basically good; just somewhat misdirected when they go for bees. So I'm planning to relocate them to the veggie garden.

In the last few years I've begun to leave anything I can, trusting/hoping that it is beneficial, until proven otherwise. These, I have known to be good.

Blister beetles almost finished off many of my tomatoes and potatoes this last week. They came by the multiple thousands. I spent hours hand picking, as did Jerreth, my wife. Finally, in desperation, I dug up some malathion, which I had inherited from a friend going into a nursing home. I mixed some up in a spray bottle and went to battle. I was grieved. But if I didn't there would simply have been nothing left. They were moving into my beans and sweet potatoes too. Within an hour there were no blister beetles to be found. Twenty-four hours later... still no blister beetles. What a relief. And,... I managed to avoid killing my beloved spiny soldier bugs, which have been so faithfully guarding our potatoes.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:54AM
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slowpoke_gardener

I hope I am not boring all of you with my pictures, but I have another one that I thought interesting. I made Madge a flower bed this year and fixed it much like my experimental garden. The soil was amended and long "pond" was left in the center of the bed which was filled wit oak shavings. The shavings seemed to be the home of many crickets, which, I assume attracted the Assassin bugs. There were too many to count but take a look at this picture and guess.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 2:59PM
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chickencoupe

That's a cool pic!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:32PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I kill Assassin bugs and Spined Soldier Bugs religiously. They eat my precious butterfly caterpillars. There are enough predators out there for them to deal with, so I feel not one whit of guilt over their demise. If they are eating bees, too, well, for sure they are on my hit list. I've only seen 2 Assassin (Wheel bugs) in the garden and that was last year. They didn't last long. Haven't seen any this year. Living in the city, I don't seem to get quite as many predators as those in rural locations. I have a lot of Praying Mantids and they get the oust as well. For every one of those I get, there are probably 5 that survive, though. They hide much better than some.

Wasps are a huge enemy of the butterfly larvae, too. Grrrrr!

Susan

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

George, I understand why you felt compelled to use the Malathion. I have a love/hate relationship with blister beetles. They are so damaging, and yet they eat grasshopper eggs so are beneficial in that way which is why I tolerate them. If I had them in the numbers you have them, I might make the same choice if it was the only way to save the garden.

Okievegan, Your poor dogs! I would put my dogs first too. Our dogs are like our grandchildren...and are just as spoiled as grandchildren would be. All six of them are inside lying around in the air condtioning. They used to be outside dogs who came in at night to sleep because of all the predators here. Now they are inside dogs who only go outside for a couple of hours during the cool of the day. When I make them go outside to do their doggie business, they can't wait to get back inside.

Susan, We have barely any wasps here this year. I am seeing more now than I was a month or two back. In this hot weather, the pest bugs multiple so quickly that it blows my mind.

I'm ready for the autumn cooldown, but of course, that's still months away.

Dawn

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:56PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I had the striped blister beetles and used Sevin. I can deal with the grey ones which have a different behavior. Those striped ones would eat everything in an area and move on. I don't know how many there were but they run around like crazy. No hand picking and making them drop into soapy water tricks would work.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 7:26PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Dawn, I have wayyyyyyy too many wasps this year! I would take a few out, but I'm too chicken to approach them with extermination on my mind. I'm sure they can read minds!

The other day I found SB eggs on the foliage of one of my plants - needless to say, they are egg-free for now.

Susan

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:37PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Yes, another boring picture. I went out this morning to see what the Assassin bugs were up to. It looked as though they would climb up on one of the Zinnias when it was ready to eat, and set there untill a butterfly of bee would land. I saw several bugs with butterflys and at least one with a bumblebee. I watched one bug set there on a Zinnia and miss two different butterflys. Then two black butterflys landed on that Zinnia at the same time. The Wheel bug grabbed one of them by the wing, the other butterfly started fighting the Wheelbug, I assume to make it let go of the other butterfly. I watched this fight for what seemed to be 20 seconds or more. I felt sorry for the butterfly and put the blade of my pocket knife between the bug and butterfly and knocked the butterfly loose.

If I had been there at the right time I may have knocked the bee loose also. Those Assassin bugs seem to be real killing machines.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:58PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Unfortunately your bugs are on zinnias which are visited by butterflies and bees. I would be moving them to my tomatoes. When everything is dried up and ugly (here,not your garden) there are still interesting things going on in a garden. I don't think pictures are boring. I post too many on the Ozark forum. Usually no one sees my garden so the pictures are fun for me.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Larry, Your photos are never boring.

I agree with Helen that I'd move them off the zinnias to something like tomatoes that's more likely to be visited by pest bugs.

Assassin bugs are eating machines just like praying matids. I don't know if the assassin bugs kill one another, but mantids will eat one another, which can ruin their usefulness as a beneficial bug population if they gobble up all of their own kind. I hate seeing beneficial insects preying on bees and butterflies!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:24PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Helen, I wish I had a place to put them. Almost everything is gone. I still have some corn, peppers, melons, okra and sweet potatoes. The tomatoes are gasping for their last breath, corn not far behind. Every is under great stress, if we dont get some rain and some relief from this hot weather it will be a task to keep the shrubs alive.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:42PM
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macmex

Larry, you take great pictures. Am praying for rain!

George

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:05AM
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slowpoke_gardener

George, thank you.

Your prayers were answered here. I got up last night and could hear thunder and a few rain drops hitting the skylight in the bathroom. I got up this morning hoping to have to swim to the garden, but the ground was not even wet. I checked the rain gauge, and was able to pour one drop into the palm of my hand, but it was a very nice drop and I requested many more just like it.

I am going to try to move some my Assassin bugs to the compost pile and crush some tomatoes and cover them with a cardboard box, hoping they will have a happy home eating crickets.

The deer are eating everything that is not protected. The grasshoppers are eating everything but the crickets and assassin bugs, and I expect it will get worse before it gets better.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:06AM
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soonergrandmom

Larry, We got about the same amount as you did, just a lot of thunder and a few drops of rain. I've been checking on that Arkansas storm and hoping you would get some rain from that one this afternoon Looks like a few people in Arkansas and Oklahoma are going to get lucky. I think it has high wind warnings, but I wouldn't mind a little wind if we could get a good rain, but looks like it will miss us.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:34PM
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slowpoke_gardener

Carol, I got 1.15" of rain and strong wind. My corn is laying down just right for the coons to eat it while sitting down. I am very thankful for the rain even if I dont get any corn.

I hope you get some rain soon.

Larry

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:56PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

No rain here forever.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:13PM
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vlhenson(8)

I am new to this site but wanted to let everyone know I had a lot of these orange and black assassin bugs last year and thought they were good bugs till one bit my foot. It itched worse than anything that has ever bitten me before. And then it swelled up and stayed that way for about 4 days. I still left them alone till this year and I am pretty sure my dog got bit by one last week. Poor thing she was in such pain and would not let me touch her much less the site. Had to take her to vet three times and after spending a lot of money with steriods, cream and antibiotics (it got infected because of her itching) she is finally better. I am now picking them off my milkweed and killing them. Does anyone know what their eggs look like?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The assassin bugs we're discussing tend to be a dull grayish-brown,and even though I know there are some orange and black ones, I've never seen them here in Oklahoma. There are thousands of species of assassin bugs and I doubt that they all lay identical eggs. The eggs I see here are a funny sort of barrel shape.

I'll link a page from bugguide that has some photos of eggs. To find the specific eggs for your orange and black assassin bugs, you'd need to find the scientific name of the one you have and then google that name plus the word eggs to see what that species' eggs look like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Some Assassin Bugs and Eggs at bugguide

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:13PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

Holy cow!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:17PM
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