Assassin bugs are true bugs which specialise in ambushing their prey. They use a specialised mouth part, called the rostrum, to pierce their prey, inject a mixture of saliva and enzymes to digest proteins and then suck up the digested mass.
The photograph above shows a nymph (Inara (?) sp. ) with the carcasses of its ant prey. After sucking the ant prey dry, the nymph uses its last pair of legs to manipulate the ant exoskeleton onto its back. Scientists theorise that the carcasses imbue the nymph with an odd appearance and thus protects the nymph from its predators. Another advantage is that the ant carcasses may still exude chemicals which ants use to communicate with each other, thus allowing the nymph to approach similar ants. This is termed chemical camouflage. The nymph can ambush more of such ants.
The nymphs have been observed to transfer existing ant carcasses to their new exoskeletons after each moult.
Photo 1 © Soh Kam Yung. Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, Singapore. 18 April 2021
Article by Teo Lee Wei