by Ryan Huether
Assassin bugs are large predatory true bugs from Africa with a sharp rostrum or beak and a bite that is accompanied by a painful venom (the least painful, Platymeris biggutatus is comparable to a bee sting). They can be kept in comparatively small areas and make great desk pets.
Provide these bugs temperatures in the high 70’s to mid 80’s with low humidity. Substrate is not necessary. If used, it should be left dry. They should be given some form of cover (cork bark or egg crate is effective) to cling to and hide under. Provide a lot of ventilation.
The assassin bug can effectively bring down a wide variety of prey compliments of its painful bite. Because of this, its prey can include significantly larger insects than itself. It is still recommended, however, to feed insects smaller than the assassin bug to minimize unnecessary risks to the bug. Their diet should be consistently varied as too much time exclusively spent preying on any one species can negatively affect the insect’s health.
Example of a well varied diet: roaches one feeding, crickets the next, followed by horn, meal, or superworms. They can be tong fed.
Nymphs can be started on red runner or lobster roaches.
Assassin bugs can be kept in groups and tend to avoid cannibalism if they are well fed. A good population density would be 8-10 adults per 10 gallons of volume. At times, multiple individuals will feed together on a single prey item if it is big enough.
Females intended for breeding should be placed in small styrofoam containers with moist sand for substrate. Females will lay eggs singly in the substrate. Some sources report that females can reproduce parthenogenetically, although other sources contradict this. Regardless, if fertilized, the eggs will hatch yielding new assassin bug nymphs.