This beautiful orange creature is an assassin bug in the family Reduviidae. Pselliopsus barberi is one of over 100 species of assassin bugs in North America, and if there were a ninja of the insect world, this dude would be it. The aptly named assassin bug is sneaky, swift, vicious, and deadly. It uses a sharp, curved mouthpart (called a rostrum) to pierce insect prey and inject it with a lethal toxin before slurping up its innards. It might sound gross until you consider who this insect is having for lunch. Common prey include garden pests like hornworms, Mexican bean beetles, Colorado potato beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, caterpillars of all sorts, cucumber beetles, and many others. Adult assassin bugs can measure from 0.5–1.0 in. (13–25 mm) in length, depending on the species. Some species, like this one, are brightly colored, but most assassin bugs are brown, green, or black. They have broad bodies, elongated heads, and long, spindly legs. Females lay eggs on plants and the resulting nymphs (with their distinctive sway-backs) pass through several stages before fully maturing. Both adults and nymphs are covert little buggers and aren’t usually encountered by gardeners on a regular basis. At best, I come across one or two each season
Book Description: This book is the winner of the 2015 American Horticultural Society’s Book Award. It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden is a book about bugs and plants, and how to create a garden that benefits from both. In addition to information on companion planting and commercial options for purchasing bugs, there are 19 detailed bug profiles and 39 plant profiles. The bug profiles include a description, a photograph for identification, an explanation of what they do for the garden, and the methods gardeners can use to attract them. The plant profiles highlight the best plants for attracting beneficial bugs and offer detailed information on size, care requirements, zone information, and bloom time. Design plans show gardeners how to design a border specifically for the bugs. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests. Video Trailer for Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden
We were picking blueberries today when I spotted this tiny insect. At first I thought it was the nymph of a pest-munching assassin bug, but then I spotted its knife-like mouthpart (called a rostrum) inserted into an unripe blueberry. I knew then it was a vegetarian and not an assassin. I couldn’t resist this little leaf-footed bug’s iridescent blue coloration and ran for the camera. Though leaf-footed bugs are plant eaters (or suckers, rather) they don’t really do any significant damage. Notice this little nymph’s enlarged back legs? Now you know where the name leaf-footed bug comes from!