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Leafhopper Assassin Bug (Zelus renardii)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Leafhopper Assassin Bug

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Image Credit: Mike R. from San Clemente, CA
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Leafhopper Assassin Bugs are efficient predators with varied diets, eating more than just leaf, plant and tree hopping insects.

Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Despite its common name, Leafhopper Assassin Bugs will attack and eat any insect it comes across. Using stealth, speed, and strong forelegs to hold a victim, the Leafhopper Assassin Bug kills using a long, sharp fang to quickly and repeatedly stab its prey. This fang can also stab fingers and arms, inflicting a mighty painful wound. Aside from intense pain, however, the Leafhopper Assassin Bug is not lethal to humans and a 'bite' does not require medical attention. Avoid rough handling or scaring the bug and it is content to ignore humans. It is more interested in hunting for insects and spiders on flowers and branches.

Though its manner of dispatching bugs for meals seems brutal, Leafhopper Assassin Bugs can help in gardens infested with pest bugs, however, they do not discriminate between what gardeners consider helpful and harmful bugs. Adults and nymphs may be seen near each other, but they look nothing alike. Nymphs are small, spiky and white with orange on the dorsal (back) side. Adults are slender and long with brown bodies, orange patches on the back, and have green legs. Both life stages are good at what they do: eat.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Reduviidae
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          Genus: Zelus
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            Species: renardii
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Zelus renardii
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 16mm (0.39" to 0.62")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, green, white, orange, black
Descriptors: green legs, spiky, fang, biting, long

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 16mm (0.6in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 13mm
Hi: 16mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Leafhopper Assassin Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Leafhopper Assassin Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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