Although giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida, Asteraceae) is perhaps most often associated with allergies, this plant also hosts a variety of insect drama in the late summer and autumn. The other day I saw a number of plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae) feeding on one of these native annuals, and one unlucky individual stumbled into the raptorial front legs of a spiny assassin bug (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Sinea spinipes).
While plant bugs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract sap from plants, assassin bugs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract hemolymph and other juices from their insect prey. As their common name implies, assassin bugs wait in ambush until their targets wander within striking distance. They’re frequently found among plants that serve as hosts for their prey.
While watching this assassin bug feed on this plant bug, I noticed a number of tiny flies crawling across the prey animal. I suspect they were lapping up fluids that had leaked from the wound. The assassin bug didn’t seem to mind them, however, as it was probably ingesting the majority of the plant bug’s fluids.