Have you seen one of these in your garden? I don’t know how I never noticed these little insects during the many years that I have been gardening, but they just never registered on my radar.
A friend recently posted about being stung by one of these, and that very same day, I realized that I had taken a photograph of an assassin bug juvenile.
Most assassin bugs (there are about 150 species), despite their scary name, are a boon to your garden. They are predators that feed on other insects that can be detrimental to your plants.
There are many kinds (species) of assassin bugs, but many of them can pack a painful sting, so avoid handling them. Just another reason to wear gloves when you garden, if you ask me.
Adults have a long mouthpart (a rostrum) that they use to stab their prey and inject a paralyzing toxin that also helps to dissolve the prey. Once their prey is immobilized, assassin bugs suck up the bodily fluids of their prey through the rostrum. Yuck!
Despite their gruesome eating techniques, these are beneficial insects (except for a few species of the 150 or so), so keep them around, just be cautious about handling them.
Here’s an interesting video about the assassin bug on the Science Channel: http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/monster-bug-wars/videos/monster-bug-wars-assassin-bug/