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Dead ants on Assassin bug

Acanthaspis sp.

Description:

The black mass is a conglomeration of ants. These are solidly stuck on the back of another insect. The host insect is covered with what looks like sand...or is it fungal spores? It was active and scurrying around. It finally disappeared into a crack between the wall and the door. I observed it for two whole days.

Habitat:

Under a plastic foot-mat which had moved from its place as I stepped onto it. This was at a resort in the village of Mandu (Mandav) in Madhya Pradesh. The area is right on the edge of Sagar Talao a large fresh water tank.

Notes:

This is an Assassin bug. It pierces the bodies of its prey and injects paralysis-inducing saliva and an enzyme that dissolves tissue, then sucks out the liquefied stuff. It wears the ant exoskeletons as a backpack to confuse jumping spiders. It may carry up to 20 dead ants at a time, all bound together with a sticky excretion.Because ants swarm and use chemical weapons, jumping spiders avoid them. http://bizarrecreature.blogspot.com/2014...

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24 Comments

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 20 hours ago

It is such an unusual creature. Well spotted too.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 21 hours ago

Neil, Isn't it just...if it weren't for PN, I would never have known. I am really very very pleased to have seen this.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 21 hours ago

That is insane!! Extraordinary spotting, and that's the best defense strategy ever; wear your lunch to avoid becoming lunch! Wonderful photos and notes too :)

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 22 hours ago

Thankd Maria dB and Sergio Monteiro...an absolute eye opener for me....hadnot known about the lacewing nymphs either....thanks for telling me.

Wow, that's a new one for me. I knew that lacewing nimphs use to glue the exoskeletons of its victims on their bodies, and that some spiders "decorate" their orbs with the remains of their prey, but I didn't know that assassin bugs could do it too. I think that the debris that cover its body is sand grains, stuck in the same substance the bug uses to "glue" the ants into itself. Very nice spotting, Sukanya, congratulations.

Maria dB
Maria dB a day ago

Really interesting spotting!

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a day ago

Wow Tukup, really looking forward to the Sheep. Isn't Zoom an EXCELLENT thing to have. This one may be a second on PN, not sure but definitely a first for me.

Tukup
Tukup a day ago

I can imagine, but the pangs are worth it if it results in a "first" spotting of something. I got back from a week in Colorado recently and added 12 birds and 5 mammals to my life-time animal list plus who knows how many plants. Isn't it great to be outdoors and not tied to electronics? FYI, I got close-ups of Rocky Mountain sheep that were 3-4 miles off with my 40X optical zoom camera :-) I hope to post them soon.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 2 days ago

Thanks Tukup. Definitely in the top three most peculiar things I have ever seen...it was hiding under a footmat...of all places! Till I got back from holiday and put in on PN...oh! the pangs of curiosity I suffered. LOL.

Tukup
Tukup 2 days ago

Hi Sukanya. Again, what a great find. Cool pictures and write-up. Congratulations on the well-deserved nomination for SOTW

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 2 days ago

Thanks, Leuba. This was ALL-New to me as well...it was such a revelation! I immediately put it in the book on survival that I am writing. All thanks to jae who put me on the right path, and PN of course.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 2 days ago

Great spotting Sukanya and thanks for the information- all new to me.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 2 days ago

Thank you, AshleyT.

AshleyT
AshleyT 2 days ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a week ago

Thank you Tukup....truly weird...and I was lucky to have seen it. I hadn't known about this behaviour then..came to know on PN...courtesy jae. Happy to share.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a week ago

Thanks Mark...I was zapped when I first saw it...under a footmat...and thought it was a fungus infested insect I should put out of its misery. The dust particles looke fungusy...then ai realized it was moving just fine and the ants were cemented on its back...I knew PN was the place for an ID...and jae told me. I am still zapped. That is Goddess Kali....manifestation of primordial energy....the photo the linkshowed me. Thanks Mark.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a week ago

Wow fantastic series and find.
Reminds me of a myth from your part of the world... http://byronbodyandsoul.com//wp-content/...

Tukup
Tukup a week ago

Well, how weird is that? What a catch Sukanya. Thanks for sharing.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 4 weeks ago

Jae. I have found a research paper on (Acanthaspis in Madhya Pradesh where I spotted this.... It says this is a strategy to avoid predation by jumping spiders!
All Thanks to you for telling me that dead ants are camouflage! And have you noticed the rest of the bug is covered in sand grains...I cannot find any reference to this...but definitely it will mask olfactory cues! What an intelligent bug.

Jae
Jae 4 weeks ago

Truly wonderful indeed, Sukanya, and thank you for sharing. It most definitely lives up to its name :)
Btw I'm not quite sure if this is the ant-snatching assassin bug (Acanthaspis pentax) because wiki says this species is native to west Africa. However there is also another species of assassin bugs called the masked hunter (Reduvius personatus). The nymph of the masked hunter camouflages itself with substrate, though I have yet to find a picture that shows one also covered in ant corpses.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 4 weeks ago

Thanks Brian...really interesting species. May even be a debut on PN.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 4 weeks ago

Jae...what a wonderful piece of information...I was half dead with curiosity wondering what I had spotted...and coating itself in sand...that must mask its smell too. Truly wonderful.Thanks so much for telling me...

Brian38
Brian38 4 weeks ago

Amazing spotting Sukanya!!

Jae
Jae 4 weeks ago

Hi SukanyaDatta, what an awesome spotting. I think it might be an assassin bug. Acanthaspis petax is an assassin bug that carries the corpses of its ant victim on its back. I believe the assassin bug does this to mask its scent.

SukanyaDatta
Spotted by
SukanyaDatta

Madhya Pradesh, India

Lat: 22.33, Long: 75.41

Spotted on Aug 16, 2019
Submitted on Aug 16, 2019

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