Friday, May 23, 2014

Assassins In The Yarden

Today we discovered two assassins that have moved into the yarden.  Very good news and earlier than expected this year.  Maybe I missed them this time last year, but it is very exciting to see them this year already!

Robber Fly - Assassin Fly - Asilidae
Robber Fly - Assassin Fly - Asilidae
First up is our first ever spotted Robber Fly.  These are from the family Asilidae.  They are also named "Assassin" flies.

Pretty sure this is a Robber Fly because of the indentation between the huge eyeballs and the way the wings are folded back while resting.

By the looks of the abdomen, this fly has been doing pretty well in the area.  Sadly, it could be cleaning up on all the lacewings swarming around our tomato cages.

Maybe not so so bad, because we only really need the lacewings to lay eggs and eat bugs while in their larvae form.  As adults, lacewings pollinate and feed on flower nectar.

Robber flies are ambush assassins.  They usually feed on flying insects.

Zelus renardii - Leafhopper Assassin - Assassin Bug Nymph
Zelus renardii - Leafhopper Assassin - Assassin Bug Nymph
Second and final assassin of the day is the Assasin Bug nymph.  This is a welcome return of the Assassin Bugs, we've had them before and they eat quite a bit!

This is most likely a Zelus renardii nymph, also known as a Leafhopper Assassin bug.  Boy, we need them!  These are part of the Reduviidae family, which is a family of predatory true bugs.

Last year, we spotted two types of Assassin bugs.  The Zelus renardii and a "Wheel Bug", scientifically named Arilus cristatus.  

Seeing these guys at work last year, it was hard to imagine how they managed to catch so many insects.  They seem to move so slowly and clumsily.  I'll post a conglomeration of some really great assassin bug photos from last year some time.