Assassin Bug Nymph Feeding on a Colorado Potato Beetle Larva
I took this photo not at a local farm but in my own garden, so I guess I am cheating a little this week! I planted a 50 foot row of beneficial insect habitat for my garden and have lots of assassin bugs and other “good guys” helping to keep pest numbers down. The above photos are of a species of assassin bug known as a wheel bug (Arilus cristatus). This nymph patrols the eggplants and peppers and stays pretty plump feeding on the Colorado potato beetle larvae. You can see in the top photo the little notch showing where the beetle larva had started chewing on the eggplant leaf before it was rudely interrupted by the assassin bug. We have several species of assassin bugs in North Carolina. Assassin bugs pounce and grasp their prey with their strong forelegs, then feed by impaling their victim with their stout beak, injecting a toxin that essentially liquefies the insides of the insect. They then suck out the liquefied tissue, using their beak much like we would use a straw to drink a beverage!