Saturday, December 18, 2010

Assassins on the prowl

We have spent the last three months filming a TV series on predatory bugs, and some of the predators we have been working with are the assassin bugs. They are incredible insects that hunt by stealth, then stab their victims with their long proboscis and paralyse it within seconds.

Watching them hunt is amazing. Once they detect prey they will approach it with such caution that they hardly seem to be moving at all. All the while they keep tabs on their intended prey with extremely long mobile antennae. Sometimes the strike is rapid, but other times they try to sneak in a little lethal injection without the victim noticing. Once the victim notices the little sting it is all but over. The assassin bug then feeds on the victim via its proboscis, and discards the empty husk when finished.

A delicate orange assassin bug from our garden. This species is a ready flyer.

The same species feeding upon a grasshopper.
One of the giants, a Bee Killer Assassin Bug Pristhesancus plagipennis found about 10 minutes west of Kuranda
A close-up of the proboscis of Pristhesancus plagipennis. This species can capture very large insects.

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