What Kind of Bug is This?
We experienced some excitement this past week when we found a unique looking bug out of one of our samples in a spotted wing drosophila trial in strawberry. Have a look at it yourself - lots of spines all over and a swollen pair of first legs.
Kirsten ascertained that this is an assassin bug of the family Reduviidae, most likely of the genus Sinea because of the spines and those large first legs. We've included below a general picture of this genus from the web.
According to the UC IPM guidelines, generally both the nymphs and adults of assassin bugs feed other insects like caterpillars, larvae of leaf beetles along with the nymphs and adults of other true bugs (think lygus). They capture their prey by ambush or stalking, followed by impaling it with their tubular mouthparts, injecting a venom and then sucking out the bodily contents.
Since we know people are wondering, assassin bugs, although impressive in appearance and feeding tactics, are too general in their predation to be considered important predators like big-eyed bugs or minute pirate bugs. That said, finding such unique predators may be a good sign of a field that supports a robust and diverse predator community. High predator diversity can be a valuable defense against pest outbreaks.
In the berries, it's a something like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you might find!
Link to UC IPM article on assassin bugs:
Assassin bug found 8-22-2023 in strawberry north of Watsonville.
Spined assassin bug nymph. Photo UW, Milwaukee