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Halloween Assassin

Watercress Park, within the city limits of Van Buren, has a nice collection of old grown shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata,) the only pine native to Missouri. The other day, one particularly large old tree near the spring was absolutely covered with these guys:

I’m familiar with assassin bugs, but I’d never seen one this colorful. A visit to Bug Guide showed it to most likely be Pselliopus barberi. There is a chance it could be P. cinctus, but P. Barberi is usually more brightly colored and the markings match better.

There were literally hundreds of these bugs crawling on and under the bark of the pine tree, many mating. Since this species overwinters as adults, I would have to guess that they spent the winter under the bark on this tree with its deep, textured bark. I searched all the nearby pines, but only one – another old timer – had any present and not nearly as many as the first. This pine tree also produced two other nice finds that I’ll feature in upcoming posts.

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