Wednesday, May 13, 2009


This specimen is a member of the family Reduviidae, which includes assassin bugs, ambush bugs, and thread-legged bugs. They are predaceous bugs, and are fairly common. They are often blackish or brownish, but some are brightly colored. They have an elongate head, which is restricted behind the eyes. An important keying characteristic is that they have a three-segmented beak which fits into a groove in their chest (prosternum). The abdomen is also wide, and extends beyond the lateral wing margin.

Hemiptera; Heteroptera; Reduviidae; Rhynocoris ventralis
Common Name: Assassin Bug

Because they are powerful predators they can inflict painful bites if disturbed, but if they are preying on humans, their bites may be painless from the chemical they release as they feed. Within this family there is also the genus Triatoma, which are assassin bugs that feed on human blood. They are commonly known as "kissing bugs," or "Mexican bed bugs." In South America and Mexico, members of Triatoma are a vector for the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, which is responsible for Chagas disease. For more information, see my medschool blog. Kissing bugs can look similar to the above pictured Rhynocoris ventralis, but kissing bugs have a longer, narrower "nose," hence the name "cone noses" for Triatoma.

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