Predatory Bug: How To Get Rid Of Bug Species Effectively
They like to hide in crevices in the house and can even sting people. We show you how to get rid of those annoying predatory bugs quickly.
The predatory bug family is very large, and the different types of predatory bugs can look quite different. Here you can find out what these little insects and vampires are all about and why the useful predatory bugs are actually not predatory bugs at all.
The family of the predatory bugs ( Reduviidae ) comprises almost 7000 different species, but most of them are native to the tropical regions of the world – we in Central Europe only deal with about 20 different species.
Predatory bugs: origin and profile
Predatory bugs can have a size of 5 to 20 millimeters, whereby the color can range from an inconspicuous shade of brown to a noticeable red-black color. In addition, a wide variety of patterns are possible for predatory bugs.
One thing that predatory bugs have in common is their diet, as all species are predatory. Such a procedure is characterized by the fact that the bedbugs feed on other insects and suck them up – a useful property for us in principle. The predatory bugs sting the insects and inject their saliva to paralyze their prey and then kill them in peace. However, if you harass predatory bugs, you can easily get a bedbug bite. For example, you often get a sting when you put on clothes that have a bug hidden in them. Such stitches can be a bit painful, but fortunately, no other consequences are to be expected.
Unfortunately, however, there are even species that have taken a liking to birds and mammals and soak up their blood – just like a vampire. On the other hand, we humans infest bed bugs ( Cimex lectularius ), which, however, belong to a different family of bugs, namely the flat bugs ( Cimicidae ). The bed bugs feed on human or animal blood and leave itchy puncture marks on the skin. This means that they are also true vampires, as they feast on human blood, for example.
Predatory bug species
There are around 20 predatory bug species in Central Europe – we briefly describe the most important of them below.
Predatory bug species: the drop bug (Reduvius personatus )
This bug is also called the dust bug or masked rascal because the larvae of this species like to cover themselves with dust and sand to hide and make themselves invisible. This camouflage of the larvae makes it easier for them to ambush other insects and then suck them up. The adult bugs are dark in color and 16 to 17 mm in length. Their strong proboscis is hidden under the flat body, with which they can give extremely painful stitches. If you get a bug like this, you will likely get an itchy wheel that resembles a bee sting.
Predatory bug species: the mosquito bug ( Empicoris culiciformis )
The mosquito bug is a very delicate bug that can grow to be 4 to 5.2 mm long. Her legs are ringed in black and white. The mosquito bug does not use the two front legs to walk, but to catch its prey – this is why these two feet are also called tentacles. The mosquito bug can be found all over Europe, Asia, North America, and northern Africa. They are mainly found in and on buildings, where they hunt for insects such as dust lice (Psocoptera).
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Predatory bug species: the devil ( Phymata crassipes )
The devil predatory bug is also called the praying mantis bug. This has a body length of 7.1 to 8.8 mm and is light brown in color. The devil can be found in Central Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This species is particularly common in southwest Germany and Austria up to an altitude of 1500 m.
Predatory bug species: The ringed murder bug ( Rhynocoris annulatus )
The curled murder bug can be found in Northern and Central Europe, it has also spread to Siberia. Their demands in life are rather simple because this bug is good at dealing with drought and humidity as well as low temperatures. These black bugs with red patterns have a body length of 12 to 14.8 mm. They are mainly found on the ground and in trees.
Predatory bug species: the red murder bug ( Rhynocoris iracundus )
The red murder bug looks similar to the curled murder bug, but it is redder in color. Their body length is 13.8 to 17.6 mm and they can be found on the flowers of numerous plants. Larvae of this type of bug can be found on the ground, on various plants, and deadwood. The red murder bug prefers warm, sunny, and dry locations and feeds on insects in a predatory manner.
A useful predator bug: Macrolophus pygmaeus
There are not only harmful predatory bugs but also those that we can use as beneficial insects. The Macrolophus pygmaeus bug is called a predatory bug but systematically belongs to the soft bugs ( Miridae ) and not to the predatory bugs. This bug is 3.1 to 3.9 mm long and widespread in Europe. Conveniently, they can be used against various species of whitefly ( Aleyrodidae ), against aphids ( Aphidoidea ), and thrips ( Thysanoptera ). They are used to combat these pests in greenhouses – the optimal conditions for these bugs are 22 ° C and a humidity of over 65%.
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Recognize predatory bugs
The predatory bugs form a large group of insects that vary greatly in appearance. Basically, all bugs have six legs and a maximum body length of 19 millimeters. The smallest predatory bugs have a body size of only 3.5 millimeters and are very fine and delicately built, very similar to mosquitoes. Some species of predatory bugs have also developed the two front legs into catch legs.
The color of predatory bugs can range from dark to light and can also be conspicuous. Many predatory bugs are spotted or patterned differently in colors such as red, yellow, or black. Predatory bugs have wings, most of them can also fly. The antennae of these bugs always have one knee, so they are slightly bent. The proboscis also consists of three members and is bent downwards.
When the predatory bugs stab their prey with this proboscis, they inject their salivary secretions into it, paralyze the prey in this way and can then kill and eat it. In Europe, you don’t have to worry if you are bitten by a predator bug, because this only happens in exceptional cases and itchy wheals may develop. However, predatory bugs in other parts of the world, such as South America, can transmit infectious diseases. Tropical predatory bugs, for example, transmit Chagas disease.
Prevent predatory bugs
Usually, you shouldn’t have much of a problem with predatory bugs in your living quarters as they feed on other insects that they are more likely to find in natural habitats. However, it can always happen that predatory bugs hide in attics or other quiet places. First and foremost, you should always try to keep insects such as predatory bugs away from your own four walls and prevent them from entering. Make sure that windows and doors are well-sealed and that there are no entry routes for predatory bugs.
Do not leave the doors and windows open unnecessarily long, because this is also how the predatory bugs can get into your house. To still be able to ventilate your rooms unhindered, you should attach insect screens or nets to the windows and balcony doors. So you can ventilate without hesitation, without predatory bugs and other insects getting lost inside. Since bed bugs are attracted to light and heat, insect screens are particularly beneficial when ventilating in the evening and at night. If you do not have such grilles and nets on your own, you should at least always turn off the light in the room when you ventilate the room.
Summary of preventing predatory bugs:
- Seal windows and doors and keep them closed
- Attach insect screen
- Only ventilate in the evening with the lights switched off
Fight and get rid of predatory bugs
Both chemical and biological control methods are available to you to combat predatory bugs. Below you will find out which method really works against the pests.
Fight predatory bugs chemically
To combat predatory bugs effectively with chemical agents, you can use various insecticides that contain the active ingredients deltamethrin, pyrethrum, or permethrin. These active ingredients are contained in many broadly effective insect sprays and are therefore very effective in combating predatory bugs. These agents show their effect very quickly and in some cases also have a barrier effect. This means not only will it kill the bedbugs you catch, but it will also keep live bedbugs from entering your home.
Note: When using chemical insecticides, you should always pay attention to the instructions for use and the safety regulations. Always avoid contact with the skin or eyes and also avoid inhaling insecticides.
Fight predatory bugs biologically and with home remedies
One of the biological control agents is of course neem oil, which, with its active ingredient azadirachtin, can be used very well against various types of insects. This oil comes from the tropical neem tree and has always been used to combat insects in its countries of origin. Here you can find out more about neem oil and the use of this biological pesticide.
Another method for the biological control of predatory bugs is the use of soft soap or alcohol. Make lye from the soft soap and use it to spray the predatory bugs. You can also mix alcohol with water and use it to fight predatory bugs.
Summary fighting and getting rid of predatory bugs:
- Chemical control can be very effective, but you should always make sure to avoid contact with the irritating substances
- For biological control of predatory bugs, you should rely on neem oil or make lye from soft soap or alcohol.