When I was a kid, I recognized assassin bugs whenever I saw them from all the insect field guides I had read and memorized.
Of all the pets I kept, assassin bugs were my favorites. Patient hunters, you could throw them in with a bunch of ants and they’d stay perfectly calm and still until the moment was right. They’d pick off the ants one by one, never getting caught in the act, until none were left.
Most arthropod predators, even mantises and giant centipedes panic if they get anywhere near a group of ants.
I actually got bit once by one of my pet assassin bugs while handling it. Its bite was perhaps the most painful I’ve ever received. Far worse than getting stung by a scorpion.
I was rolling on the floor tearing up and clutching my hand for a several minutes afterwards yet most of the pain was gone within 10 minutes and there wasn’t a whole lot of swelling.
I suppose this is because assassin bugs don’t inject venom into their prey, but rather a cocktail of digestive juices that reduce the prey’s innards into an easily consumed soup.
It can be easy to mistake them for any other ‘true bug’ of the order Hemiptera.