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Thread-legged bugs
Bug July 2009-1.jpg
Ploiaria domestica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Heteroptera
Family: Reduviidae
Subfamily: Emesinae
Amyot and Serville, 1843


Emesinae, or thread-legged bugs, are a subfamily of the Reduviidae (i.e., assassin bugs). They are conspicuously different from the other reduviids by their very slender body form. They are stalking, predaceous insects that can be collected on palm fronds, cliffs, spider webbing, or near lights at night (many can be collected by blacklight). They walk on their mid and hind legs; the front pair is raptorial. Some groups specialize on spiders. Very little is known about emesines except that many species are found in the tropics. Pedro Wygodzinsky wrote the most recent revision of this group.[1]


The Emesinae are worldwide in distribution; however, they are most abundant in the tropics. For example, the tribe Metapterini, while having a worldwide distribution, has the majority of its diversity confined to tropical islands. The center of emesine diversity is apparently Africa. This continent contains the only species of the most plesiomorphic tribe, the Collartidini, while a more derived tribe, the Deliastini, is restricted to South America. There are approximately 90 genera and 900 species in the subfamily.[2][3]


The first cladistic analysis of the Reduviidae (assassin bugs) based on molecular data (mitochondrial and nuclear ribosomal DNA) was published in 2009. This analysis suggested that the Emesinae is not monophyletic.[4] The analysis sampled only 7 specimens of Emesinae, though 5 of the six currently recognized tribes were included. The analysis suggested that Emesinae is polyphyletic with respect to Saicinae and Visayanocorinae. Additionally, Emesini and Ploiariolini were not supported as monophyletic groups.[4] The taxonomy of the group is thus in doubt and as additional analyses are conducted, the taxonomy will be refined.


  1. ^ Wygodzinsky, Pedro W. (1966). "A monograph of the Emesinae (Reduviidae, Hemiptera).". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History ; v. 133. 
  2. ^ Redei. "New and little-known thread-legged assassin bugs from Australia and New Guinea (Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Emesinae)". Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 53 (4), pp. 363–379, 2007. 
  3. ^ Maldonado Capriles, J. (1990) Systematic Catalogue of the Reduviidae of the World (Insecta: Heteroptera). Caribbean Journal of Sciences, Special Edition, i–x, 1–694.
  4. ^ a b Weirauch, Christiane & Munro, James B. "Molecular phylogeny of the assassin bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae), based on mitochondrial and nuclear ribosomal genes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 53 (2009) 287–299.