How to Control Assassin Bugs?
Assassin bugs are one of the strangest and most interesting species of bug out there. The variety of species of this predatory bug makes it one of the most striking and yet least understood bug species out there. If you’re looking for information on assassin bug control, there are a few things you are going to need to know about these notorious bugs first. Once we know a little bit more about these strange bugs, we can figure out how to control assassin bugs.
How To Get Rid of Assassin Bugs
Hold your horses there. Before you start looking into ways to get rid of assassin bugs, you need to ask yourself: do you really want to get rid of assassin bugs?
Assassin bugs get their name from the fact that they prey on other bugs. They are meat eaters – well, more correctly, fluid eaters. They feed on the fluids inside the bodies of other insects that they catch and kill in a variety of ingenious ways. Assassin bugs do not eat plants, and so they pose no threat to your garden. Also, of the 7000 species of assassin bugs there are, most have very little interest in being around people. All they want is a regular supply of insects to feed on, and habitat that allows them to use their hunting prowess to catch their food. It’s just bad luck that these things are often provided by human homes and gardens, bringing these bugs into conflict with us.
Assassin bugs are regarded by most gardeners as a beneficial species. This is because of their habit of preying on other insects. Having a few assassin bugs in your garden is a sign of a garden in peak health. Assassin bugs are among the top predators of a garden’s ecosystem, and seeing them in your garden is a good indicator that the garden is in top health.
Assassin bugs will help protect your outdoor plants. There are all kinds of bugs that are only too happy to feed on the plants that we grow in our gardens, and the assassin bugs will work to keep their numbers down. For this reason, most experts advise that you do not try to get rid of assassin bugs in your garden, as they will help to control the numbers of other bugs that actually might harm your plants, or even you or your family. Assassin bugs, despite their fearsome reputation, can actually be our friends.
But – there’s always a but, isn’t there? Certainly in the case of assassin bugs there is. While assassin bugs can be a gardener’s best friend, helping keep a lid on the numbers of insects that can damage your plants, such as aphids and mealybugs, they are not always picky eaters. They have been known to also harm populations of other beneficial insects, such as ladybugs. Worse, most species of assassin bugs are perfectly capable of biting humans, and the pain of such a bite can be severe. While an assassin bug will usually only bite a human in self-defense, it is easy to accidentally grab or squash an assassin bug without realizing it, and then you may get bitten.
If the numbers of assassin bugs in your garden are getting out of control, then, you may need to take action against them.
Also, there are a couple of species of assassin bugs that will live inside human homes, and can actually be dangerous to our health. These bugs definitely have to go, the sooner the better.
One type of assassin bug that you may encounter inside your home is the masked hunter. These bugs are ferocious predators of other insects, including the famous bedbug, so having one or two in your house may not seem like such a bad thing. These are generally solitary bugs, so it’s unlikely that your house will get overrun with them. But the masked hunter gets its name from a very unusual behavior that the young insects, or nymphs, perform. Their bodies are covered in hairs and they secrete a sticky oil that helped them to cover themselves in dust and lint from your home to disguise themselves. It is thought that this behavior is intended to either hide the nymphs from predators or else make it easier for them to sneak up on their own prey. But in practice, this can make them very hard for people to see. What you think is a dust bunny may turn out to be a juvenile masked hunter, and if you try to pick it up, it can give you a very painful bite. If you are seeing a lot of masked hunters in your home, you will probably want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Even worse is the kissing bug. This is a type of assassin bug that has developed in such a way that instead of feeding on insects, it feeds on the blood of vertebrate animals. Including humans. These bugs get their name from their habit of biting people close to their mouths. But there’s nothing loving about this kiss. Kissing bugs hide during the day and come out at night to feed. Unlike most assassin bugs, their bite is initially not painful at all, since they want to avoid being discovered while they suck up their blood meal. It’s quite possible for kissing bugs to make their home inside your house and make your blood their meal.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, kissing bugs are the major vector of Chagas disease. This disease is carried in the bug’s feces, which it will deposit on the skin of its victim after feeding. The parasite enters the bloodstream. It causes swelling, body aches and fever, and can even cause an enlarged heart or cardiac arrest. Chagas disease can and does kill people. So if you have kissing bugs in your home, they definitely need to go. Now.
Tips To Prevent Assassin Bugs Naturally
If you have a serious problem with assassin bugs, it’s tempting to reach for the strongest poison you can find and start deploying it indiscriminately. But this is not always the best course of action. Before you start using chemicals that can have an injurious effect on your environment and even your health, be aware that there are steps you can take to get rid of assassin bugs in a more natural way.
If the assassin bugs are taking over your garden, it may be a good idea to try and find out why they are there in the first place. Outdoors, assassin bugs feed on other insects, so if you are seeing large numbers of them among your plants, it suggests that there are correspondingly large numbers of other insects for them to prey on.
Different insects have different needs, so it would be a good idea to try and find out what exactly is attracting the insects that the assassin bugs are eating to your garden. A good place to start would be with a thorough weeding. Many insects like to hide and lay their eggs in the long grass and weeds that may grow at the edges of your well-tended garden, and these are precisely the sort of insects that the assassin bugs love to feed on.
Another thing to consider is water. Many insects, such as mosquitoes, are aquatic for the larval stage of their development. They need water to breed. Remove any sources of standing water, such as old tires that collect rain or buckets and pails you may have forgotten about. Not only will this result in fewer mosquito bites, but it will also provide less food for the assassin bugs.
One natural method for controlling assassin bugs in the garden, as well as many other bugs, is the use of diatomaceous earth. This powder is readily available at garden stores or online. By applying it to the soil and even the plants themselves, you can create a barrier that will kill any insect that tries to get across it. Diatomaceous earth is not a pesticide. It works by lacerating the exoskeletons of the insects that come into contact with it, causing them to dehydrate and die. As a result, it is perfectly safe to use on and around plants that you intend to eat yourself.
The next thing to consider when trying to get rid of assassin bugs naturally is your outdoor lighting. As anyone who has sat outside on a warm night with the lights on will know, light attracts many flying insects. The assassin bugs are no different. A lot of conflicts between people and assassin bugs arise from situations like this, when people sit out at night and draw the assassin bugs to them, only to then be bitten. The assassin bugs are there because of all the other insects that the light attracts, which provides an irresistible food source for them.
Consider reducing the number of lights you have on at night outside your home. By making your house less attractive to other bugs, you will simultaneously make it less attractive to assassin bugs. You could also try using a bug zapper, an electrical device that emits blue light that is very attractive to bugs. Set it up a little away from where you’re sitting, perhaps twenty feet or so. With luck, the bugs will be drawn towards that light instead of the one you’re sitting under.
To get rid of assassin bugs in the home, where they are a much more serious problem than they are outdoors, your first step should be exclusion. These bugs can be quite large, up to an inch and a half long, or 38 mm. Any holes you find in your home that may be letting the bugs inside should be sealed up. Silicon caulking works great for smaller holes, as it is flexible and weatherproof. Check with special care around windows and doors, air conditioning ducting, dryer vents, water pipes and anywhere else that a pipe or conduit breaches the walls of your home. Often, there are gaps where things have not been sealed as well as they could be, and this allows assassin bugs and other insects to get inside.
Inside the home, have a good clean up and vacuum. Vacuum all cracks and crevices where the bugs may be hiding. Remember how good they are at staying hidden, and try not to miss a spot as you move through the house. Any bugs sucked up in the vacuum cleaner will not survive for long, so this is a very effective method for getting rid of assassin bugs without using chemicals.
Take out recycling regularly, as it attracts flies and cockroaches. Clean up food spills immediately, and check your dry good for any signs of insect infestation. While assassin bugs will not eat your food, other insects definitely will, and it’s these other insects that in turn attract the assassin bugs.
Insect screens are immensely useful for keeping assassin bugs and other bugs out of your home. If you already have window screens installed, check them carefully. Over time, the fine mesh can become damaged, allowing bugs to enter through the gaps. Repair or replace any damaged screens you find.
As well as its uses in the garden, diatomaceous earth can also be used inside the home. Apply a light dusting along baseboards, in cracks and crevices, around water pipes and anywhere else bugs might be hiding. Although diatomaceous earth is very safe, it is recommended you use a painter’s mask during application, as the fine dust can make you cough before it settles.
You could also try sleeping under a mosquito net like people do in some tropical countries. This will help to keep all kinds of bugs off you, not just assassin bugs.
Home Remedies To Get Rid of Assassin Bugs
Prevention is the best defense against any pest problem, and assassin bugs are no different in this regard. But if you are still having assassin bug problems and are not yet ready to resort to chemical sprays, here’s a home remedy that some people report as being useful at keeping these bugs away.
Get yourself a spray bottle, ideally a glass one. Fill the bottle with organic sunflower oil. This will act as a carrier of the essential ingredient that won’t be irritating to the skin. Next, add a few drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil. The amount to add will depend on the size of your spray bottle, but as a rough guide, you should aim for 10 drops of essential oil for every 8 fluid oz or 240 ml of sunflower oil. Close the bottle tightly and give it a good shake to ensure that the ingredients mix well.
You can now use this spray on your skin and clothes to help repel all kinds of bugs. Make sure to keep the mixture out of sunlight when storing it, as sunlight will act to break down the ingredients. Some people recommend that you use a bottle tinted blue to counteract this effect.
Since this spray is organic, you could try it outside the home, too. Spraying some of your plants might help to repel any insects on them, including both assassin bugs and the insects they prey on. Just make sure to test the spray on a single plant first to make sure that there are no bad effects. The organic ingredients shouldn’t cause any harm, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We all want to reduce our chemical usage and protect the health of our families. When it comes to getting rid of assassin bugs, there is a lot you can do to get rid of them naturally, both through physical controls and through organic sprays. But these bugs have survived for millions of years by being adaptable and resourceful, and they can be stubborn. While it’s one thing to have a few assassin bugs in your garden, it’s another thing entirely to find them in your home. And if you find that your house has become the hunting ground of the kissing bug, then you will need to do whatever it takes to get rid of them. If that means a chemical spray, even one performed by a professional, don’t hesitate. The risks to your health and that of your family are too great to be ignored. Besides, just imagine how difficult it would be to ever get a good night’s sleep, knowing that the minute you close your eyes, these nasty bugs will be coming to give you a goodnight kiss!
Assassin bugs, like everything else in nature, have their place. But your place doesn’t need to be their place. Try these tips to get rid of assassin bugs naturally.