Reduvius personatus, known as the masked hunter, is one of the more commonly encountered members of the assassin bug family (Reduviidae).
Although the adult appears rather plain, the species possesses some remarkable traits.
The masked hunter is found across the northern hemisphere, and is generally associated with human habitation - it is synanthropic.
The nymph (juvenile) has adaptations that allow it to accumulate a coating of fine debris to disguise itself amongst the dust of the home. It is this habit that gives the species its common and scientific names - personatus meaning 'masked' or 'disguised'.
This insect can deliver a painful bite to humans when handled without care, but this causes nothing more than temporary discomfort.
The Heteroptera receive little attention from entomologists despite upwards of 500 species being found in Britain alone, yet the group contains many fascinating examples of insect evolution.
Reduvius personatus has a beak-like mouthpart which it uses to feed and to intimidate predators. Find out more about these creatures and why they are sometimes confused with beetles.
The masked hunter is found across northern continents and almost always within human dwellings. It is not endangered, but may be declining in the UK as a result of improved household hygiene. Find out more.
These bugs feed on array of household insect pests and have potential as a bio-control agent. Find out how they disguise themselves against predators.
Get reference material for Reduvius personatus.
Adult with beak-like ‘rostrum’ clearly visible.© Jenner Miemietz, 2009
A nymph coated in fine debris.© Oskar Jungklaus, 2009
Adult.© Oskar Jungklaus, 2009
A bed bug (Cimex lectularius), one of the masked hunter's preferred prey© Piotr Naskrecki, 2006
A nymph coated in fine debris.© Steve Knight, 2009
Department of Entomology
"In 2005 a specimen of Reduvius personatus was found in the binding of a 15th century manuscript from Valmagne Abbey, France. Flattened, but otherwise surprisingly well preserved thanks to its encasement in gum, this is one of the oldest known dried insect specimens, complete with date and locality information."