Impurest's Guide to Animals #38 - Corpse Assassin Bug

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

Sigh it’s November and you know what that means? Nope neither do I. Last week a pair of disgusting worms; Parborlasia corrugatus and Eulagiscia gigantea menaced this blog for Halloween. This week we have an insect that brings new meaning to the term ‘body armour’.

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Issue #38 Corpse Assassin Bug

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Insecta

Order – Hemiptera

Family – Reduviidae

Genus – Acanthaspis

Species – petax

Related Species - The family Reduviidae contains around 7000 species of insect, all of which are predators or exo-parasites (1)

Range - Corpse Assassin Bugs live across a wide swath of South East Asia and Africa, often in scrub and dry forest habitats

Assassin by Name…

The Assassin Bug Acanthaspis petax is a small insect that grows to only a single cm in length. Adult Corpse Assassin Bugs are flat backed black insects with narrow heads and a long curved rostom (2). This rostom, a segmented tube with a barbed tip attaching to the mouth, can be curved under the insect’s body in a groove under the thorax. By flicking the rostom in and out of the groove the Assassin Bug can make a grating hiss noise, which is used in defence to startle predators

The rostom is more commonly used in offence however, with the Assassin Bug stabbing it into its prey before secreting an enzyme that liquefies the targets insides allowing the insect to drink its prey. Adult Assassin Bugs discard the remaining husk but their young, or nymphs, use an adhesive to attach the bodies to their back. The majority of the Corpse Assassin Bug’s ‘trophies’ are ants, and it can attach up to twenty husks to it’s back, all of which are lost when the insect sheds it’s skin.

[2]
[2]

The reason for this macabre defence can be seen by examining nymphs of other species. Most of which are slow moving and easy to spot, especially by predators such as Jumping Spiders and Geckos. By adding dead ants to their exoskeletons there is a greater chance that a predator will be dissuaded from attacking, either through the residual acid and venom in the ant corpses, or simply because the nymph looks too large to easily take down.

Five Devious Assassin Bug Tricks

The Corpse Assassin Bug isn't the only insect to glue items to its exoskeleton; The Masked Hunter (Reduvius personatus), also an Assassin Bug, glues dust and sand to itself to camouflage it from predators.

One Assassin Bug (Salyavata variegata) uses adhesive mounds for offense. It kills a termite and then glues the husk to itself, triggering the colonies ‘body collection’ mentality. As more termites are killed the more effective the Assassin Bugs trap is until it’s forced to move by sheer volume of termite bodies.

Feather Legged Assassin Bugs (Ptilocnemus lemur) use their own bodies as traps. One species uses feathery attachments to its hind legs to lure ants to it, before turning round and grabbing them when they start chewing on its legs (3).

Some Assassin Bugs risk their lives even more then the previous species by vibrating the webs of spiders, in order to lure their hosts into striking range.

One of the 'Kissing Bugs' [3]
One of the 'Kissing Bugs' [3]

A few Assassin Bugs actually are able to kill (indirectly) people. These ‘Kissing Bugs’ are parasites and spread a pathogen called Chagas Disease. It is thought that Charles Darwin caught, and later suffered for the rest of his life, from Chagas Disease spread by an Assassin Bug (4)

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - Sahayaraj, Kitherin; Kanna, Ayyachamy Vinoth; Kumar, Subramanian Muthu (2010). "Gross Morphology of Feeding Canal, Salivary Apparatus and Digestive Enzymes of Salivary Gland of Catamirus brevipennis (Servile) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae)". Journal of the Entomological Research Society12 (2): 37–50.

3 - http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129613.900-baby-assassin-bugs-lure-in-deadly-ants.html#.VFkpYjSsXE0

4 - Adler D (1989). "Darwin's Illness". Isr J Med Sci25 (4): 218–21.

Picture References

1 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Acanthaspis_WG.jpg

2 - http://dailygeekshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Acanthaspis-Petax.jpg

3 -http://www.good4utah.com/media/lib/5/e/0/5/e05ef85d-db5b-44bb-8b21-f59dc5ba5a7f/Story.jpg

And that’s the macabre styling of the Corpse Assassin Bug as well as the devious tricks used by its relatives. Next week we meet a predator feared more then even sharks by some who live in this creatures range. Until then comment, critic and catch up with the library of Past Issues in Impurest’s Bestiary

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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Errr. Those thropies are disgusting :S

I'll read the rest of the post later today ^_^

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Cream_God

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That bug is metal as f**k

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Knightsofdarkness2

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Those are some creepy insects.

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DarthAznable

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#6  Edited By DarthAznable

I remember reading about them when I was younger! I had a book on a variety of insects. As stealthy as they are, they're pretty darn reckless/brave.

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Bring out your dead?

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ImpurestCheese

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Straight-Fire

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These things look disgusting. : P

Where's the cute issues? =D

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#10  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@dboyrules2011: They can’t all be cute issues. Next two are middle issues; not as cute as a Vaquita but cuter then this.

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legacy6364

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Sexy.

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ImpurestCheese

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@legacy6364: There's something not quite right about that statement.

Still thanks for the comment

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Straight-Fire

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@impurestcheese: I know, I know. I was just joking. ;)

I'll be looking forward to those issues. : )

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laflux

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I've been bitten by an assasin bug. My face swelled up pretty bad :(

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ImpurestCheese

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Straight-Fire

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ImpurestCheese

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@laflux: Ouch You definitely have my sympathies. I hear that it's quite painful. Any idea on what species?

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laflux

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@impurestcheese: Nope, but it was pretty identifiable as an assasin bug. TBH I wasn't that pissed off at first. First time I'd seen one :)

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ImpurestCheese

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@dboyrules2011: Molluscs are the group containing; gastropods (slugs, snails), bivalves (clams, oysters ect), razor shells and cephalopods (cuttlefish, squid and octopuses)

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ImpurestCheese

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@laflux: Yep always remember seeing my first one. Used to see big (4cm) ones over in Indonesia that even attacked some of the local geckos.

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Straight-Fire

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#21  Edited By Straight-Fire
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NighThunder

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Wowe

Nice

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deactivated-5c901e667a76c

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This was the first one in this series that actually made me go "ugh!"

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ImpurestCheese

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@nighthunder: Cool thanks for the comment

@ostyo: No most definitely not, Assassin Bugs (indeed most animals) kill out of instinct rather then for the reasons Dahmer did

@xwraith: Cool actual revulsion :-)

@dboyrules2011: Your welcome

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Ostyo

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@impurestcheese: Oh noes, you're suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Those darn bugs... :O

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@ostyo: Oh hush you, when you join the swarm you never leave

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#29  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@ostyo: It's a Mollusc, here's a picture of it's dentition

No Caption Provided

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Ostyo

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#30  Edited By Ostyo
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ImpurestCheese

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@ostyo: Yep, already written TBH. Have been feeling a bit sea sick so went for an easy option.

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Ostyo

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@impurestcheese: Yay...another creature that should just die. :P

Why are you sea sick?

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ImpurestCheese

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@ostyo: Doing some Radio Tagging of Orcas in the North Sea at the moment

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KingVenus

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Daang, now i'm itchy!

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Wolverine008

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Once again Impurest, great stuff :)

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ImpurestCheese

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@wolverine08: Flatterer

@kingvenus: I know just the animal that can rip that itchy skin off...you'll meet it next week :-p

@ostyo: Just this once I'll allow it

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I think this animal has my greatest respect. It's like beheading your conquered masses and wearing their shrivelled hearts as a necklace. Or belt.

@ostyo: Doing some Radio Tagging of Orcas in the North Sea at the moment

You are the coolest viner, bar none.

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#39  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@ms-lola: Corpse Wear Indeed. Did I mention that I'm having to stay 50m or more away from them, so therefore using adhesive tipped bolts and a hand bow as a delivery system

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Ah, I don`t most o these. Cooooollllll...

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I have a solution for this.

No Caption Provided

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ImpurestCheese

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@rd189: That's a little extreme don't you think? Those bullets are bigger then the animal you're hunting

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@impurestcheese: 500 NE is never too bid. Nor is it too small. It is made for PRECIESLY killing all hideous creatures such as this.

But in all srs, cool thread dude!

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@rd189: Thanks a girl can try. And leave the poor 'hideous' creatures alone, they don't deserve this.

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@impurestcheese: FIIIIINNNEEE. I'll put them away. But if one crawls on me, I will not be held responsible for the consequences. Fair deal?