Member Since: 08/24/2018

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Re: QUESTION: Are assassin bugs friend or foe to tomato plants?

I see several comments here saying that the assassin bug (Reduviid bug) is your friend. It may be the tomato's friend, but if it bites you, it is not very friendly, as it can transmit a trypanosome that is responsible for Chaga's disease that compromises the function of the heart and causes congestive heart failure, which can lead to death. This is the leading cause of congestive heart failure in South America. There are an estimated 300,000 cases of Chaga's disease in the U.S., so it is becoming more common. This bug used to only reside south of the U.S. and it has now moved north into the U.S. like the Africanized honey bees (Killer Honey Bees). While it will not attack you like the bees, it is certainly not best to handle the assassin bug or you may very well sustain a bite. If the bug is infected with the Trypanasome that causes Chaga's disease, then you are at high risk for contracting that, as well. I see comments here that say to treat the leaf footed nymph by picking it off by hand and putting it in a bucket of soapy water. The only problem with that is that if you do that with the assassin bug, you may get bitten. My advice would be to only pick bugs off by hand with good gloves on in the event that you have mistaken other bugs for the assassin bug instead. So, just a heads up for the big pickers. Wear gloves if you are going to pick bugs off of plants and if you get one of these ugly things on you, get it off ASAP, before it bites you. Good gardening and as always, have fun!