Creepy assassin bug gives new meaning to the term ‘body armour’

What the assassin bug looks like without its special protectionInsects are fascinating, but they can also be very creepy. One type of bug in particular has a 'creepy dial' that really goes up to 11, though, by wearing its dead victims' bodies as camouflage and armour.

The name 'assassin bug' refers to several species of insect, all known for having a 'rostrum', or beak, that they jab into a victim, inject a paralyzing agent that turns the victim's insides into goo, and then suck the goo out of them.

[ Related: Mountain pine beetle poised to ravage forests of Eastern Canada ]

If that wasn't gross enough, some assassin bugs have a particularly nasty habit regarding what they do with the empty, leftover carcasses of their victims. These bugs already produce a sticky substance on their front legs that gives them a better grip on their prey as they feed, but once they're done with their meal, they use that substance to stick the remains onto their own back. As the picture below shows, they do this multiple times, building up quite the collection to carry around.

An assassin bug with its 'body armour' of ant carcasses
That's quite the 'wolf-in-sheep's-clothing' look it's sporting.

Apparently it's only the 'nymphs' or immature stages of the insect that do this, shedding their macabre accoutrements when they become adults.

[ More Geekquinox: Video captures magnetic putty 'having a snack' ]

Here's a video of some of the nymphs crawling around:

Despite their gross appearance and grotesque habits, most species of assassin bug are actually considered beneficial insects, as they prey on other insects, such as cockroaches, bedbugs, and termites. Some people even keep them as pets.

(Images and video courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, Mohd Rizal Ismail/Flickr/Facebook, YouTube user warrenlaurde)

Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!