Gardens are engrained in the human psyche as a place of peace, solitude and beauty. We contemplate the structure, sent and arrangement of the flowers and bask in the ornate simplicity of each flower. With this pristine image of garden burned into our brains it is hard to fathom the idea that a garden is a bloody battle ground littered with body parts. In the modern human battlefields snipers have played a key role in securing various objectives. The US Navy SEALs used snipers to eliminate targets off the coast of Somalia during a hostage situation, and countless snipers secure and patrol nearly every urban and rural area in Iraq and Afghanistan. So why would a sniper, of sorts, be in a peaceful garden? The answer is actually quite simple, to survive.
Human snipers have high powered rifles that are designed to eliminate targets at extreme distances. The insect sniper found in gardens don’t have miniature rifle that they use to capture their prey but they do have an elongated mouth and forelegs that they use to detect and kill their prey. This is the Assassin Bug (Zelus luridus) and they are masters of their deadly trade.
In order to be an effect assassin, human or insect, you must have the ability to camouflage yourself within your surroundings to get close to your prey. Assassin Bugs species vary tremendously in color and size depending on their targeted prey. Some wait on flowers to attack unsuspecting pollinators, others actively stalk their prey through foliage. No matter where the predator hunts the kill comes in the same manner, a quick piecing jab of the saber-like feeding tube dispatches the prey.
This particular species of Assassin Bug has long antennae. Antennae are sensory organs used much like whiskers on a cat. The extreme length of these particular antennae lead me to believe that they could be used to determine accurate range before the final strike. If the strike is not accurate the Assassin Bug risks losing it’s prey.
Gardens are a place on contemplation and beauty. Death can be a thing of beauty when perceived through the proper lens. Assassin Bugs are beautifully adapted to practice their deadly skills in the most serene of places.
Up Next: More Dragons, A Trip to Montana, Spiders, and/or Marmots.