Friday, November 7, 2014

Sycamore Assassin Bug

I have been seeing the creature above around our creek house the last few weeks.  Although it is only 1/2 inch long, I can now recognize it by the distinctive color and slow direct flight, usually only going a few feet before landing.  The distinctive shape and snout is typical of an assassin bug.

Searching for 'assassin bugs' I paged through the images until I found one with the distinctive banded legs.  This was in the genus Pselliopus, and the 'info' site gave a key to the species.  Clicking on the choices, up jumped pictures of Pselliopus barberi species, a perfect match.  (It isn't always this easy but that is the fun.)  The 'info' page says the Pselliopus comes from the Greek psellion 'anklet/bracelet' + pous 'foot', a reference to the banded legs.

Orange Assassin Bug with Tobacco Horn Worm - Pselliopus barberi
Sucking juices of a tobacco horn worm - James VanCleave
Once you have identified a genus and even species, you can click on 'images' and find pictures of the larva and sometimes even the eggs.  There usually are some high quality pictures of the insects (or arachnids) eating, procreating, or just hanging out like these here.  Many of the contributors are generous enough to share their pictures.  The 'info' button will usually bring up details on range, habitat, size, season and life cycle.

Mating P. barberi - Matthew Roth is a great resource to identify insects and arachnids and learn about your finds.  If you can't find a match, join (free) and send in pictures.  You will usually get information from their many knowledgeable volunteers within a few days.  At times it will be referred to an expert specializing in hard to identify species who will later respond with difficult species identification or pointers.

Just looking good!   Shelly Cox of MoBugs
Finally, by searching using the genus and species rather than the common name you are more likely to find detailed information from reputable sources.  Also called a sycamore assassin bug, it is usually found on flower heads in the summer until it migrates to tree bark and sometimes houses to overwinter.  I came up with more details on our P. barberi on this link.  Now wasn't that easy?

What is this which is coming next week to the blog?

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