chapter  29
18 Pages

Assassin Bugs (Reduviidae excluding Triatominae)

Reduviidae is the largest family of predaceous land Heteroptera, containing about 6250 species and subspecies in 913 genera and 25 subfamilies (Maldonado 1990). Reduviids are abundant, they occur worldwide, they are voracious predators (hence their name, “assassin bugs”), and most are general predators. Being larger than many other predaceous land bugs and encompassing in their development a greater range of size, reduviid predators consume not only more prey but also a wider array of prey (Schaefer 1988). Because they are polyphagous, reduviids may not be useful as predators on specific pests, but they are valuable predators in situations where a variety of insect pests occur. Moreover, they kill more prey than they need to satiate themselves. Thus, reduviids are important mortality factors and should be conserved and augmented for their utilization in biocontrol programs (Ambrose 1987, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1996b, 1999; Schaefer 1988; Schaefer and Ahmad 1987). Unfortunately, to date their potential for biocontrol of pests has been little studied.