Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bee Assassin

Bee assassin with red milkweed beetle?- Kevin Firth
Kevin Firth sent me this picture of a bee assassin (Apiomerus crassipes) with what may be a red milkweed beetle. Although they are strong fliers, like all assassin bugs they tend to wait and ambush their unsuspecting insect prey, stabbing them with their sucking beak.  They first inject digestive juices into the prey, both paralyzing the victim and starting the digestion process in their victim.  They then suck out the innards like a big milk shake.  Consider this paragraph a part of your neglected weight loss program.

Although bee keepers consider them a major threat, no studies have been done to show that they affect the population.  They usually are found perched on stems and leaves, not the best place to catch a bee.*  Most of the pictures I found on the web show them with other types of insects, mostly bugs harmful to your garden.

That said, they are certainly capable of taking down a bee.  Their hunting strategy is to use a sticky substance, possibly collected plant resin on their strong front legs, which helps them to grab and hold onto bees. They are considered a beneficial insect by all but bee keepers and an occasional gardener who picks one up or otherwise annoys it.

Bee assassin with small bug- Patrick Coin

   Patrick Coin

*  Details at Texas Master Gardeners

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