You are here:

Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery bug identification


Wichita K\'S
Wichita K'S  
This bit my husband today in a hardware store in Wichita Ks. He left a hole in his finger that was observable with the naked eye. It burned for quite some time after the incident... He said it felt worse than being burnt.

Please help us identify it.

Dear Leslie - This is a nymph of an assassin bug (Hemiptera/Heteroptera: Reduviidae) in the genus Zelus - see for an image.They are general predators on insects and other small arthropods; their saliva contains powerful enzymes that break down their victims' tissues so that the assassin  bug then can suck up those fluids through its beak. It these enzymes that are responsible for the pain resulting from their 'bite' (actually more of a stab). Fortunately, the bites are not dangerous to humans, although in some cases, the area around the bite site may remain swollen and tender for a few days after the bite.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

©2017 All rights reserved.