18 September, 2010

Assassin Bug Nymph – Zelus spp.

I spotted this little fellow on the underside of an oak leaf.  This is a nymph of an assassin bug in the genus Zelus.  If you look closely at the largest picture in the collage below you can see a feeding tube called a rostrum tucked under its head.  It uses the rotrum to puncture the body of its prey and inject saliva that contains enzymes to kill the prey and liquify the innards so it can suck it out.  That brings a new image of "feeding tube" to mind!
While taking these photos, a red squirrel in a walnut tree began fussing incessantly.   
It kept a close eye on me and the cats (Max and a neighbor's cat that we call TK) as we made our rounds. No way we were going to be able to sneak up on anything.
Not too far from the red squirrel and the assassin bug is the flower bed with the hollyhocks.  The 6 feet tall hollyhocks have been blooming all summer.  Their white and yellow flowers are not particularly large or striking  but they do have a certain charm.  At least the deer think so, and unless I spray a deterent on them, they never get a chance to flower.  I think the deer like the flower buds best of all.   The hollyhocks are also favorites of the bees and bumblebees.  And it sure looks like the bees do a good job of pollinating them; just look at the lovely seed heads!
With all of those seeds, the deer should have plenty of flower buds to snack on next year.


  1. Lovely shots of the Squirrel on guard Wilma. He's certainly watching your every move. lol

  2. Assassin Bug. What a great and appropriate name. Bad table manners though:-)

  3. Interesting photos and info on the bug - and the wry comment about feeding tubes - entertaining.

  4. Love the shots of the fussy squirrel.

  5. Nice shot of the Assassin bug and enjoyed seeing your Red Squirrel images. I used to see them when I grew up in Cornwall but they died out there in the 1980s although there are active plans to bring them back very soon.

  6. Keith -- those little red squirrels make a lot of noise for their small size. They tend to be more skittish than their grey cousins.

    Phil - the aptly named assassin bugs are kin to the equally aptly named ambush bugs that I wrote about last summer. Gruesome little beasts. ;-)

    Chris - I got more shots of that same individual earlier today, still on that very same oak leaf! I'll probably post them later tonight.

    John - glad you like the squirrel. I love to see them around.

    Anthony - I hope you get to see some of the cute little guys soon. They aren't as common here as the grey ones are, but they certainly make their prescence known.

    cheers all,


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