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Milkweed Assassin Bug (Zelus longipes)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Milkweed Assassin Bug, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 8/2/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Milkweed Assassin Bug  
Picture of Milkweed-Assassin-Bug

Milkweed Assassin Bugs mimic the abundant herbivore, Large Milkweed Bug, adding another advantage to its mode of food-hunting.

Milkweed Assassin Bugs are red and black in almost the same places as Large Milkweed Bugs. This makes it easier to walk among prey. Large Milkweed Bugs eat seeds and plant stems, leaving other insects alone. Mimicking such a 'friendly' bug allows the Milkweed Assassin to tread closer to unsuspecting prey. Assassin Bugs in general are just that: assassins. They quickly attack an insect and repeatedly stab it with a large fang. This fang kills the insect allowing the Milkweed Assassin to feed on its insides. This same fang is also able to stab people, inflicting a very painful wound that eventually heals.

Look for Milkweed Assassin Bugs on milkweed plants as well as flowers.

Milkweed Assassin Bug Information

Category: True Bug
Common Name: Milkweed Assassin Bug
Scientific Name: Zelus longipes
Other Name(s): Long-legged Assassin Bug

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hemiptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Reduviidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Zelus
       Arrow graphic Species: longipes

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 14 mm to 20 mm (0.546 inches to 0.78 inches)
Identifying Colors: red, black
Additional Descriptors: beneficial, painful, biting, fang, flying, predator

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; British Columbia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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