Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    femoralis
    Genus
    Ptilocnemis
    Family
    Reduviidae
    Super Family
    Reduvioidea
    Suborder
    Heteroptera
    Infraorder
    Cimicomorpha
    Order
    Hemiptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    1 cm

Introduction

Assassin bugs are a large family of bugs that are found everywhere in Australia.The Feather-legged Assassin Bug is a specialist predator of ants.

Habitat

The Feather-legged Assassin Bug lives in urban areas, coastal heath, forests and woodlands.

Distribution

The Feather-legged Assassin Bug is found in eastern Australia.

Feeding and diet

Unlike most bugs which feed on plant juices, assassin bugs are predators. They ambush their prey, usually other insects such as beetles or caterpillars, piercing them with their curved mouthparts (rostrum). Once the prey has been punctured and is held fast, the assassin injects a powerful saliva. This fluid immobilises the prey and dissolves its tissues.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Feather-legged Assassin Bug is a specialist predator of ants. They are found under the bark of eucalyptus trees. They position themselves somewhere on an ant trail with their long legs raised. This exposes a gland which produces a scent attractive to ants. When an ant investigates the gland and tastes the substance coming from it, it is the last thing it will do. The substance paralyses the inquisitive victim and the bug drives its rostrum into the ant. When the bug's digestive saliva juices have done their job, the ant is sucked dry.