Zelus is a genus of the family of assassin bugs.
Reduviidae are distinguished by their short, slender 3-segmented piercing beaks (most Hemiptera beaks are 4-segmented) which fit into a groove on the lower body surface. 4,F They can actually be quite cute and spunky looking in some of the pictures I've seen, especially considering they are true bugs.
They are primarily predatory, capturing prey with raptorial front legs. These assassins can fly, but poorly; when not in use the wings fold back over the body, overlapping at the tips, leaving a triangle over the thorax. J
"The adult bug varies from very light to dark brown and from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in length." J (That sure narrows down our hunt for bugs now, doesn't it?)
The genus includes the following species:3
- Zelus Fabricius 1803
- Zelus cervicalis Stål 1872 (Zelus)
- Zelus exsanguis Stål 1862 (Zelus): Green nymphs with red eyes, showing a row of orange dots on each side G; maturing to about 3/4" long with a bright green body with black highlights. 4 They are "found in trees and shrubs" (4)and are "very common on pecan, the hairs of the front legs of this species secrete a sticky substance which probably aids in capturing its prey, they feed upon aphids, spittlebug adults, and other insects" 2
- Zelus longipes Linnaeus 1767 (Cimex): "Milkweed mimic assassin bug" Z A bright orange to brown coloured insect with black legs, black dorsal markings and white ventral markings.1
- Zelus luridus Stål 1862 (Zelus): "Zelus luridus Stal is an elongate (12-15 mm) insect that is widely distributed in North America. It occurs in low numbers in apple orchards in southern Ontario. Adult Zelus luridus are yellowish to reddish-brown, with red eyes and distinct, spinous, processes dorso-laterally on the thorax. Males are smaller and darker than females and the spinous processes are not as well developed. Egg masses are laid on leaves and both nymphs and adults feed on aphids and other soft-bodied arthropods. Zelus luridus overwinters in the nymphal stage and adults are active in apple orchards from about mid-June to late July. There is generally one generation per year." 4
- Zelus nugax Stål 1862 (Zelus)
- Zelus renardii Kolenati 1856 (Zelus): "Leafhopper Assassin Bug" J
- Zelus tetracanthus Stål 1862 (Zelus): "Four-spurred Assassin Bug" J