Normally, the garden is filled with ladybugs and spiders but on this day, the predator to beware of is the assassin bug. I was drawn to the spot, not because of a snappy theme song like the one Bond has, though that would be pretty cool; but no self-respecting killer broadcasts its arrival with an orchestral composition.
No, what caught my eye is the fact that the half-inch long, bright green insect stood out against the red leaves of a rose bush. A true bug (in the order Hemiptera, probably genus Zelus), the assassin bug has a long, straw-like mouthpart that it uses to impale its prey. This one was a nymph, not an adult, but it still knew what to do when coming across aphids. With a swift thrust of its beak, the aphid was doomed.
Assassins are common in Colorado, and it’s always nice to see them about. On this day it, plus other beneficial insects, were out in force. Check your garden for them the next time you’re out there, and hum a few bars of the man from UNCLE when you see it.
Then let it go on its way – they don’t like to get hassled and are just as likely to jab your finger if you try to pick them up. Assassins, as a rule, aren’t cuddly.