What If Bugs Were Assassins?

Welcome to the garden of eatin' where spined assassin bugs pluck out critters for their last suppers... where they're the main course.


What: The spined assassin bug is one of the creepiest critters found in a garden.

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Who: Despite being dreaded by the rest of the garden, spined assassin bugs are loved by human gardeners, because the spined assassin bug keeps their gardens free of pests who eat their plants.

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When: "When an unsuspecting caterpillar, ladybug, or roach stumbles by, the assassin pounces with a flash kick of its spiny front legs and attacks the poor critter that made the mistake of crossing this killer's path." The Screaming Hairy Armadillo (p. 66)

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Where: No need to travel to exotic locations in order to find this exotic killer, the spined assassin stalks gardens throughout the southern United States and northern Mexico.

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How: What makes spined assassin bugs so super creepy isn't how they use the natural beauty of garden flowers to camouflage themselves as they secretly stalk unknowing passerby out for dinner or a stroll... it's how they use their fang-like beak as part dagger, part syringe to inject their victims with an enzyme that liquifies their internal organs into a goo the spined assassin bug then slurps up, turning it's dagger/syringe into a turkey baster.

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Why: Aside from gardeners, why is nature glad to have spined assassin bugs around? For one, they are the most organic pesticide available; with spined assassin bugs eating all the pests that eat up gardens, gardeners don't have to turn to human-made pesticides that can harm more than the pests they're intended to eliminate.

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Huh?: Beware of the difference between the spined assassin bug and its close cousin, the "kissing bug"; while the spined assassin bug kills other creatures its own size, the kissing bug can bring down a human! Find out how in The Screaming Hairy Armadillo!

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Wow!: The spined assassin but is one of the select animals who sport 3D camo! The additional dimension comes from the spines striping the outside of the spined assassin bug that look a lot like parts of the plant they're hiding in. What other animals can you think of that have more than color-only camo and use textures to blend in?

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Keep getting curious about animals with The Screaming Hairy Armadilloand it's free Educator's Guide!

Thank you for your curiosity, stay curious, and let your curiosity lead your learning with more Curiosity-Based Learning content and activities from What If Curiosity!