Friday, December 14, 2012

Damn Nature! - Reduviidae

Approximately 7000 known species make up the family Reduviidae, commonly called assassin bugs. These critters typically have a long head, narrow neck, and a segmented tube for feeding. Predatory assassin bugs inject enzymes into the bugs they eat to liquefies their insides, vyderac style, and make a gut slurpee. Others drink mammalian blood, even human, and you can see three notably terrifying examples below the break.

Acanthaspis petax, found in East Africa and Malaysia, takes the corpses of its meals and glues them to its body in a large chitinous pile. Not only do the ants it eats have their insides dissolved and sucked out by this assassin bug’s proboscis, their drained corpse doesn’t even get a decent burial. If restaurants used something more awesome than Styrofoam for their to-go containers Acanthaspis petax could become the go-to inspiration for weekend projects.

Left: Assassin Bug picture by Paul Thompson
Right: One of Jim Henson's glorious creations for Labyrinth.

According to a 2007 study led by some researchers from New Zealand, these assassin bugs seem to choose ant corpses exclusively for their cover and they work wonderfully at keeping their natural predator, a jumping spider, away. The scientists speculate that there’s a bit of paper, rock, scissors going on here as assassin bug eats ants, ants eat spider, spider eats assassin bug. So next time your world dynamic is: players kill cultists, cultists kill dragons, dragons kill players, it’s totally appropriate for your druid to start piling the corpses of dead cultists on his back as a dragon deterrent. Hell… nature does it! Oh, and if this wasn't already the stuff of nightmares, check out Acanthaspis petax in his sweet sandy camo.

SURPRISE BITCHES! Photos by Kurt of Orion Mystery - Check out his other awesome stuff!

Those markings are metal!
Over here in the Americas, assassin bugs are commonly referred to as kissing bugs. Why’s that? Because they tend to bite people near the mouth at night, to drink their blood. Yup. That’s right. Blood drinkers. Oh… and if that’s not enough these bugs frequently carry “Chagas’ Disease”. After they bite you, they shit on you, then you scratch the area (‘cause it itches) and the shit gets into your blood stream. In this world it just gives you fever, and swelling then it goes away. After being in remission for many years (20ish) it can lead to complications with your gut (e.g., constipation, swallowing difficulties, heart failure). Perhaps the mysterious wasting sickness affecting that poor woodcutter’s village doesn’t have such a mysterious and magical source after all. Still though… this bug infestation must be coming from somewhere…. And if not, how do you convince 100 people to just leave where they live… because of bugs. Hell, you god damned outsiders can’t even prove it! I knew it was a waste of our gold to have you investigate this.

Finally, please enjoy this video of an assassin bug drinking the blood of a bat.


Damn it nature. You’re scary as fuck.


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