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The masked hunter, not very nice ... but very useful

The masked hunter is a master of camouflage. You may be living next to it without ever having noticed it. It can fly or walk short distances from house to house, or be carried by humans as they travel. It feeds on many insects in houses. The masked hunter is therefore a useful insect. But beware of its painful sting. Although the reduchid is not aggressive, it will certainly strike back if you lay a hand on it. In this dossier, you'll find all the answers and natural products you need to combat this insect as effectively as possible.

I would like to

Find out more about the masked hunter

(identity, feeding habits, reproduction, etc.)

Combat the masked hunter

(method of action, natural insecticides, etc.)

Who is the masked hunter ?

The Masked hunter in the larval stage - Reduvius personatus

Latin name : Reduvius personatus
Common name :  Masked Reductor, Masked Reductor, American Stink Bug, Pine Stink Bug, Assassin Stink Bug.
Order : Heteroptera
Family : Reducviidae
Adult size : 15 to 20 mm
Location : Mainly in homes, shops and warehouses
Period : All year round

The masked hunter, from the Latin reduvius, meaning body part, is a large terrestrial bug of the order Heteroptera, which is highly carnivorous. These hemipterans are also known as assassin bugs because they are carnivorous.

They belong to the large family Reduviidae. They have a thick rostrum (a kind of stylet or beak) which they use to pierce their prey. With the exception of a few tropical haematophagous species, this predator uses its front legs to capture insects.

What you need to know about the masked hunter

The masked hunter adult - Reduvius personatus

Depending on the species, they are black, brown or green in colour. Some lurk, motionless and camouflaged, waiting for prey to pass by. Others move around to hunt and surprise their victims.

Redwings eliminate a large number of harmful insects, mainly flies, aphids and leafhoppers. They are also a great source of food, particularly for reptiles and birds. The life span of masked hunter is just a few months (from the nymph stage to the adult stage).

Females lay between 30 and 40 eggs during the breeding season, which takes place in summer. The eggs hatch after two to three weeks, and the young bugs will spend two winters in your home before becoming adults and reproducing in their turn. The nymphs are identical to the adults. Their wings lengthen as they grow. Nymphs are also carnivorous.

Is the masked hunter dangerous ?

No, this insect is not dangerous. As we have seen, it is an insectivorous predator. However, in order to feed and capture its prey, it uses a particularly powerful and sharp rostrum. The sting can therefore be very painful, but the risk is virtually nil as it remains a non-aggressive insect. In the event of a bite, the wound should be disinfected quickly and regularly. However, masked reduct bites are very rare and you are very unlucky if you have experienced one.

The Masked hunter in the larval stage - Reduvius personatus

Why masked ?

This bug is particularly "dirty". In order to create their camouflage, the larvae of the masked reduct secrete a greasy, sticky substance (a sticky secretion from their integument), which traps dust and other debris of all kinds. The larva loses this camouflage during moulting, but reconstitutes it by covering itself in dust using its hind legs.

This camouflage can have 2 functions. The first is to protect the bug from predators by making it difficult for them to see. The second is to hide it from its prey. The masked reduve is an ambush hunter that waits patiently for its prey, hidden in a crack in the wall of your home. Once it has spotted a prey item, it approaches it slowly, touches it with its antennae, then grabs it with its front legs and pierces it with its rostrum.

When it moults, the pupa sheds its old skin and has to build a new camouflage.

The masked hunter, a little known predator

The masked hunter lives mainly in homes, shops and warehouses. Cellars, attics, stairwells and garages are its favourite spaces. It can be found in homes all over the world, although it originally came from Europe.

Although it lives close to you, it is rare to see a masked hunter larva. In addition to its effective camouflage, it is, like the bedbug, a rather nocturnal insect, living hidden in cracks and only hunting at night.

They can therefore be white (flour or plaster), beige (sawdust) or another colour, depending on where they have been.

As an adult, the masked hunter is dark brown to black. This insect is 15 to 20 mm long, with functional wings. The female lays 30 to 40 eggs during the breeding season. She lays them here and there. They are oviform and no more than one millimetre long. They are reddish in colour. Depending on the climatic conditions, it can take up to a year for the larva to hatch and moult into an adult insect. The masked hunter goes through 5 larval stages, and as many moults, before becoming an adult.

The masked hunter adult - Reduvius personatus

A useful predator in the home

Like most reduvas, the masked hunter is considered a useful predator of undesirable insects such as flies, spiders and moths. It can also attack the notorious bedbug (Cimex lectularius). It is also a natural enemy of the Colorado beetle... All this almost makes you want to breed them! No ?

How to eliminate the masked hunter bug ?

An insect will only stay in a place if it finds food there. If the masked hunter has settled in your home, it's because it can find something to eat. The best way to get rid of them is to eradicate any other insects that might serve as meals. One small advantage is that it only eats live prey, which it captures with its front legs before piercing with its rostrum. But remember, this insect can also eat bedbugs. A real godsend when you consider how difficult it is to control this insect. So think twice!

If, despite everything, you still want to destroy it, you'll need to use the same tools and products as for bedbugs (with the difference that the adult flies and the larva is permanently covered in rubbish).

To find out more about eliminating bedbugs, see our special report on the subject.

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Here's what the masked hunter looks like in motion (well, especially its antennae !)