CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Assassin bug: Pselliopus cinctus
Good Morning Watershed Explorers,
This little beauty was very difficult to identify. When I put it into my family's iNaturalist account it identified it as an assassin bug, but finding out what type of assassin bug it was took over an hour. I was finally able to find a page that showcased Pselliopus barberi and Pselliopus cinctus. These were the two species that my photograph resembled. Come to find out, the picture below is of the nymph or young of Pselliopus cinctus. iNaturalist comes in very handy when trying to identify any critters or plants that you aren't sure about, check it out and create your own account at https://www.inaturalist.org/
My oldest daughter Kali, who we have nicknamed "Hawk Eye" because she spots the tiniest creatures during our explorations, found this little guy crawling under some bark on a tree. We were on a fantastic hike at the Massachusetts Audubon's Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, MA. After doing some research, I read that assassin bugs shelter in bark or under logs for the winter. This one must have been looking for a good spot to call home.
Assassin bugs are active from spring to early fall. They can be found in a variety of habitats from parks, to woodlands, and even along river edges. Assassin bugs are extremely beneficial to gardeners and farmers as they eat other pesky insects. They can sometimes inflict a painful bite when handled by humans, so it is best to look and not touch. Assassin bugs eat a variety of other insects including aphids, leafhoppers, and caterpillars. They do eat some beneficial bugs like lacewings but they are definitely a better alternative to ridding plants of pests than chemical pesticides.
To watch a cool video of how the assassin bugs kill and eat their prey, click on the link, BE AWARE, not for the squeamish!!! Look for a cool creature feature post this week in honor of Halloween! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXFRAmWiaa4
Happy Exploring Scientists! If you find a cool critter, please share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org