Science Of...

The Blood-Sucking Assassin Bug Wears Corpses Like Armor

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Once assassin bugs are born, they need to suck the blood of a vertebrate to gain strength. They'll go after any prey they can catch, and have even been known to stab bats and humans with their sharp rostrums. Their paralyzing venom can completely immobilize small prey in 15 seconds. Only some species wear the bodies of their prey, adhering them to their backs with an adhesive substance on their exoskeletons. This grisly backpack both protects the insect from predators and allows it to sneak up on future victims.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Just after hatching, assassin bug nymphs must find a vertebrate and suck its blood. 00:23

  2. Watch an assassin bug nymph fill its abdomen with a vampire bat's blood: 00:51

  3. Adult assassin bugs have been observed sucking the blood of small bats. 01:15

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