Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Assassin Bug?


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Hello Mr Eaton,

This big guy has been hanging out on my deck. I believe he is some sort of assassin bug. We had a few last season as well, although they were mostly nymphs.

We have a one year old, two dogs and a cat. The over protective mom in me wants verification from an expert that these are not kissing bugs, as I believe they are not. I think we can all co-exist as long as they aren't Putting my family at risk for disease (as I've read on some very scary pages about kissing bugs).

We live in central Maryland and these pictures were taken today (May 2016).

Thank you so much for your help!

Hi, Emma:

The insect in your images is a type of leaf-footed bug in the family Coreidae.  Specifically, it is likely Acanthocephala terminalis .  Here's more about it:


Leaf-footed bugs are more closely-related to stink bugs than to assassin bugs ("kissing bugs" are in the assassin bug family).  The leaf-footed bugs are harmless.

Your risks from kissing bugs are pretty remote unless you live in a rural area in Maryland.  There is a LOT of hysteria going around on the internet, so you have to consider the sources.  Much profit is to be made from scare tactics.  Here is my unbiased blog post:


May you and your family sleep well tonight, and enjoy the insect fauna that lives with you on your property.  Thank you for your question!



Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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