Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
Jeff Hahn, Univ of Minnesota Extension
Photo 1: Masked hunter adult - they can bite if you are not careful
Some people have been encountering a 3/4 inch long, dark colored, somewhat slender insect in their homes lately. This insect is a masked hunter, Reduvius personatus, a type of assassin bug (family Reduviidae). A masked hunter is a predator, feeding on a variety of insects. It can accidentally wander into homes during summer and is considered to be just a nuisance invader. No more than a few are usually seen at a time.
Fortunately, a masked hunter is not aggressive towards people, although it is capable of inflicting a painful bite if it feels threatened. It also is not a carrier of any disease. This is important as a masked hunter has been confused with kissing bugs which do transmit Chagas disease. Chagas disease is a potentially serious illness caused by a protozoan organism.
Kissing bugs also belong to the assassin bug family which helps explain the confusion between them. However, while kissing bugs belong to the subfamily Triatominae, masked hunters are in the Reduviinae subfamily. Kissing bugs are found in South America, as well as Central America and southern Mexico and are not native to the U.S. They get their name because of their habit of biting people on the face at night.
There is not any special control for masked hunters. Physical removal is the only necessary action that needs to be taken. If possible, capture and release any found outdoors. For more information, see Masked hunters.