Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Masked hunter has nasty bite

The resolution isn't great but this image gives you an idea of what to look for.

Spotted by my wife at the bottom of bag just brought into our home, my wife called me to the kitchen. "What is it?"

It was big, almost an inch long. It had a sandy textured back and legs, a brown colour and looked strong with big, thick legs. My first guess was a stink bug but it didn't seem to have the shield shape I usually associate with the smelly critters.

I killed it with a tissue and then logged onto the Internet to discover what had hitched a ride into our home. I learned I had squashed a reduvius personatus or masked hunter. It was a good bug to kill as it can bite and the pain has been compared to that of a snake bite with the swelling and irritation lasting up to a week.

The name masked hunter comes from its habit while in the nymph stage of "masking" itself with bits of dust, lint and sand for camouflage. This proved the undoing of our masked hunter, also called an assassin bug, as it was easily noticed sitting quietly in a white-bottomed bag.

As adults, these European bug invaders fly and are attracted by outdoor lights glowing in the night. The adults have a sleeker look, no longer sporting the dusty, dirty appearance favoured as nymphs.

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