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Dust bug (Reduvius personatus)

The dust bug (Reduvius personatus) is a bug from the family of predatory bugs and is one of the largest types of bug in Central Europe. It has nicknames such as Kotwanze or Masked Tramp, which it received because of its characteristic camouflage behavior. Their larvae cover themselves with sand, dust and any available substrate from their environment. This makes them practically invisible. The adults of these bugs can sting painfully.

In this species portrait you can find out everything about the habitat, the distribution, the way of life and the control of the dust bug.

Table of Contents

The habitat and distribution

The species colonizes Europe and North Africa completely. The distribution in an easterly direction extends to the Caucasian areas. Europe is her original settlement area, but she was also introduced to North America and probably even to South America and Australia. It is a cultural follower of humans who live in old houses, in attics, in stables and also in garbage dumps. In warmer regions, the insect also settles outdoors, where it can be found under loose bark, in hollow trees or in abandoned nests of birds.

The way of life of the dust bug

The imagos can reach heights of up to 19 millimeters. They are solid black and often black-brown in color. The top of the body has a weak shine. It is a robust and large species with an elliptically shaped body that is very hairy. Their larvae are lighter with a gray abdomen.

The diet is exclusively predatory. To do this, the bugs hunt various arthropods, which among other things can be food pests. The dust bug can also prey on insects that fly towards the light. For this she uses the adhesive pad at the end of her tibiae (front splint). This structure, called the cancellous fossula, consists of thick hairs that hold the prey in place. Then the bug stings the prey and kills it in order to suck it up afterwards. She also uses the sting in danger, which is why she also stings people and large animals. The sting is very painful.

Larvae and adults of these bugs can survive longer periods of starvation, but then develop much more slowly. A generation cycle can last for three years and two winters. The larvae molt several times. They mask themselves with sand and dust as protection against their predators as described above. Immediately after moulting, they load this onto their body surface and legs with their hind legs. Special glands expel sticky secretions to which the sand sticks. The tarsi and antennae remain free. In addition to the optical camouflage, the purpose of the sand is to make the animals unattractive in terms of taste for predators.

The fight against the dust bug

The sting of this bug is just as painful as a bee sting or a snakebite, then itchy wheals develop at the puncture site, which regress after about a week. However, people are rarely stung if one of the bugs is hidden in a piece of clothing in the closet, for example. Contact insecticides are used to combat severe infestation. The insect sprays contain, for example, pyrethrum, deltamethrin or permethrin and are sprayed onto the infested areas of the dust bug. Laundry must then be thoroughly knocked out and washed.

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Species portrait, annoyance