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assassin bug

assassin bug

assassin bug, common name for members of the family Reduviidae, one of the largest and most varied groups belonging to the order Hemiptera (suborder Heteroptera). Assassin bugs are generally brownish to black, medium-sized to large insects, with heads that are elongate and narrow compared to the thorax. The raptorial front legs are used for grasping prey. Most assassin bugs are found on foliage, and some occasionally enter houses. The majority of species are predaceous on other insects, but a few are bloodsucking and will bite humans if carelessly handled. The bite of some species is painless, while the bite of others is extremely painful, resulting from a venom produced by the bug, the effect of which lasts for months. A painful biter is the common, black, wheel bug (Arilus cristatus), easily identified by the semicircular crest resembling a cogwheel on the top of its prothorax. Another is the masked hunter (Reduvius personatus), often found in houses where it preys on bedbugs and other insects. The adults often bite humans around the mouth, hence its other common name, the kissing bug. In the Southwest assassin bugs of the genus Triatoma are common. Called conenoses or Mexican bedbugs, they also invade houses and may bite humans. In Central and South America certain species of this genus are the vectors for a highly fatal trypanosome disease known as Chagas' disease. Assassin bugs are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Hemiptera, family Reduviidae.
The Bugs are a fictional extraterrestrial race in the novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, its film adaptation (and its first and second sequels and spin-off television series), sometimes also referred to as the Arachnids, although this is a misnomer, as the aliens are not related to Earth arachnids. The Bugs in the film differ considerably from those in the novel, which calls the Bugs Pseudo-Arachnids. Meanwhile, Mongoose Publishing's Starship Troopers: The Miniatures Game refers to them as the Arachnid Empire. In the third film in the franchise, the bugs are referred to as "Archie", similar to nicknames given to Germans ("Jerry") and the Vietnamese ("Charlie") in their respective wars.

Differences between the film and the novel

The Bugs in the film are portrayed as mindless insectoid beings. However, at the beginning of the film, when Rico and Carmen dissect Arkellian sand beetles, the biology teacher states that the Bugs have millions of years of evolution behind them and are, in the case of survival capability, the perfect species. They have the ability to colonize planets "by hurling their spore into space" and possess a social structure which fits their mental capabilities.

In the novel, it is established that the Bugs have spacecraft, beam weapons and other advanced technology, far from the mindless insects of the movie.

Bug society is based on a caste system in both the films and the books.

Colonization

The Arachnid Quarantine Zone consists of many star systems colonized by the Arachnids. At the turning point of their evolution, plasma bugs developed the ability to fire spores into orbit. Utilizing an organic star drive, the spores can travel to other systems and impact with planets, thus spreading Arachnid eggs and creating a new generation of bugs.

In the first film, Klendathu, Tango Urilla, and Planet P are the only worlds explicitly shown to be colonized by Arachnids, though an unspecified number of planets are under their control. It is also shown that they slaughtered a colony of "Mormon extremists" on a planet called Dantana. In the TV show, Zegema Beach is on a planet known as Tesca Nemorosa.

Castes of bugs

  • Queen – The Queen of a Bug colony is the progenitor of the colony, whose sole function is the production of its members. In the novel and film, no Queen has ever been seen; it is thought that they cannot move of their own accord (see below for Queen as shown in TV series).
  • Brain Bug – Leader of a Bug colony. It is hinted at in the novel that the Brain Bug is telepathic and shares a symbiotic relationship with the Bug Colony (i.e. If it dies, the colony dies). In the movie, it assimilates knowledge by consuming a human's brain, is carried by small cockroach-like insects called Chariot Bugs and is assumed to be created when the colony reaches a certain size.
  • Warrior – Are bred to serve as the infantry of the Bug forces. In the film, Warrior bugs are four-legged bugs approximately two to three meters long and are colored as to the terrain, such as desert warriors will be tan with black and yellow stripes. The rearmost pairs of legs are much longer than the two front forelegs, and serve as the primary locomotion, the forelegs being 1/3 shorter. Warrior bugs are quite agile and fast, they can climb and burrow if needed but would rather use tunnels made by burrower bugs. These Bugs utilize a powerful pincer-like mandible that is capable of crushing rock, metal and severing limbs as a means of attack. The two upper forelegs or "side mandibles" are utilized in the manner of swords for attack as well as defense. It was thought they used these as 'hands' for grasping objects in the manner of a praying mantis but this is not the case. A warrior has no dexterity with them as they are merely stabbing and slashing implements; it uses as its primary weapon as they reach out to well over a meter, 2 feet further than their forelegs or 3 feet further then its actual mandibles. In the novel, Warriors are armed with beam- or plasma-based weaponry. In the movie, it is said that they can lose a limb and still fight at 86% efficiency.
  • Worker – The Worker Bugs do the manual labour for the Colony, digging and upkeeping the tunnels. They are semi-defenseless and will usually flee at the first sign of danger unless they have no way out. They are physically similar to Warriors but possess a non-aggressive mentality. Near the end of the novel, a large mass of Workers were used as a decoy for the Mobile Infantry while their Warriors prepared a greater trap; the Workers did not fight, even when they were attacked.

Castes appearing in the films

  • Control Bug – Enters through the mouth or in more aggressive and direct manners will burrow right into the brain from the skull and take control of a person's mind. These bugs were used in an attempt to conquer the Federation high command. They were first seen in the sequel Hero of the Federation, and also appear in the TV series.
  • Plasma Bug – Resembles a giant firefly crossed with a stag beetle. Typical adult Plasma Bugs can exceed 30 meters in length and stand more than 20 meters tall. Has the ability to launch a massive plasma burst into orbit, which can deflect an asteroid or slice a ship in two. It is most vulnerable when creating a plasma burst, and at all other times impervious to attack except on its underbelly. In the Bug forces, the Plasma Bug serves in ground artillery and air defense roles, as well as planetary defense. Despite their firepower, the Plasma Bug's role for offensive actions is mainly limited to fire support and long-range bombardment due to its huge size and the immense danger to nearby Bugs from a plasma explosion should one be hit.
  • Hopper – Resembles a giant wasp in many ways. It is green and has chitinous jagged wings it uses to great effect to gain high altitude. It glides rather than flies as its wings barely have the muscle tissue to lift it up for altitude, when it reaches a suitable height before setting its wings rigidly and taking a long running leap from a high cliff and will decapitate men as it glides, or pierce them with a stinger on the abdomen. Its wings are used to gain altitude by angling like plane wings, it gains altitude by jumping, in upwards to 50 meters. In the television series, a new variation of Hopper (called a Rippler) capable of "shooting" a stinger filled with a corrosive toxin was revealed.
  • Tanker Bug – Resembles a giant bombardier beetle. Tanker Bugs are generally black in color and are nearly as large as Plasma Bugs. Has the ability to spray a stream of flammable, corrosive liquid from its head. In the 1997 movie, the Tanker ejected fuel from a nozzle-like spout in the top of the head, which is ignited by an electric spark generated by two short antennae on either side of the spout. In the TV series, Tankers spew two separate chemicals from two tube-like nozzles on either side of the mouth where they are mixed along with small amounts of catalytic enzymes. When these chemicals mix they undergo a violent 'exothermic' chemical reaction.
  • Recon Bug – Flying bug which resembles a dragonfly. In the widescreen edition of the film, the bug is only briefly seen flying in Planet P. Whether it can attack or if "recon" truly applies to its role is unspecified.
  • Scorpion Bug – Appeared in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Officially called "Scorpion Class Pulse Warrior" and nicknamed "Scorp," Scorpion bugs are a new evolution of plasma bugs. They resemble giant scorpions and can fire direct-energy plasma beams from their stingers, which makes them useful primarily on the front lines. The advent of this and the Bombardier bug forced the Mobile Infantry into trench warfare.
  • Bombadier Bug – Appeared in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. A.k.a. Grenade Bug. They appear to be the size of a basketball and are form of kamikaze, thrown at Mobile Infantry, before they detonate.
  • God Bug – Also known as the Brain of Brains or Behemecoatyl. Appeared in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. This Bug burrows itself into a planet where it can grow to the size of the planet itself. This Bug is hinted to be worshiped by all castes of bugs and can use telepathy to communicate to any other brain bug in the universe. This "God Bug" can take control of humans merely by piercing them. The Humans become pale and seem to die in time but can be used by the brain bug to speak any language that the human knew thus allowing Human communication between Arachnids and Humans. It is probable that there was only one of this bugs but before much information could be found out about it the Federation destroyed the planet it had infested.

Castes introduced in the TV series

  • Rippler/"Mamma" Rippler – Creature from Hydora that was manipulated genetically to become part of the bug swarms. The Ripplers are flying creatures with six legs that shoot acidic barbs at their targets. When they were first introduced, they were invulnerable to standard weapons, and were attracted to laser. This was not seen (and probably removed) for the rest of the series. Unlike other bug species, ripplers are not created by a queen but rather by a mother rippler, a larger purple pigmented rippler with spines covering its back.
  • Imposter bug – genetically created bugs that are made to be more bipedal and human like, these bugs can compact their bodies allowing them to fit into power armour and infiltrate enemy lines. Once deep enough, they return to their true form and unleash havoc in their enemies' midst.
  • Infiltrator – a further evolved version of the Imposter bug strain, introduced in the Bugs' invasion of Earth. These Infiltrators were outwardly human in appearance but could revert into a bug form in combat situations. It was stated that they possess human DNA and could pass for human on a cursory scan. In their human form, the species were somewhat identical in appearance and tended to be limited in their conversations.
  • Water Tigers – an aquatic species that were first sighted on Hydora. They were excellent swimmers and possessed a potent toxin that could paralyse prey.
  • Rhino Bug – a much larger aquatic bug species that could live within the alkaline lakes of Klendathu; an environment that no one expected life to live in. They possessed four 'tusks'. They were similar swimmers to the Water Tigers.
  • Jungle Spider – Large, agile crab-like creatures approximately 4 meters long that move around on six strong legs allowing them to jump long distances. They can shoot a sticky web to encase their prey for return to their controlling brain bug for 'questioning', or for return to a nursery to be fed on by Nurser Bugs for nutrients for their offspring.
  • Firefry – small six-legged parasitical bugs similar to fireflies that are created by infecting other life forms with their spores. The firefry spores hatch under the skin of the infected host, then leave the host en masse, giving rise to a swarm of baby firefries about the size of normal fireflies, but rapidly grow into a vastly larger adult "infernofrier" (about the size of a Warrior Bug). Unlike fireflies, firefries not only generate light, but heat as well, and adults are capable of shooting out a stream of flame against their targets. Their adult forms can suvive in a vacuum for extended periods.
  • Control Bug – smallish black bugs about 30-40 centimeters in length capable of enslaving another species by leaping onto their necks and psychically controlling their victim. Unlike the control bugs of the films, these do not invade the host orally, and also are not known to use the host to reproduce. Control Bugs can be driven from their hosts by X-ray radiation.
  • Ice Bug – Colossal, asteroid-sized worms that hibernate for millennia in deep space until they acquire sufficient energy to reawaken. Ice Bugs are capable of destroying an entire planet by diving directly at said world and devouring it from the inside out. A much smaller version of this bug exists.
  • Burrower Bug/Pit Worm/Tanker Worm – Possibly the larval form of Ice Bugs. These are large bloated worms with one gaping maw filled with nothing but teeth. They build and sculpt all the formations that make up Arachnid "Bug Cities" and the spawning maze tunnels the insects traverse, by eating, regurgitating and excreting rock in many forms. They will also burrow en masse and lurk just below the surface and devour troopers as they walk by similar to the manner of the Earth ant lion. These Bugs will work hand-in-hand with tankers and are resistant to its flammable liquid.
  • Nurser Bug – A beetle-like Bug that creates a powerful mutagen that modifies indigenous life forms caught as prey by Jungle Spiders to be fed to their young to create different subspecies of Bug readily adapted to other worlds without the need for terraforming.
  • Blister Bug – reddish-brown Bugs approximately three meters in length with a huge gaping maw from which they can eject a powerful, corrosive green liquid that is capable of destroying a wide range of substances as well as flesh. Unlike the larger Tanker Bug that carries with it a constant supply of bio-flammable liquid, Blister Bugs must first produce the bio-corrosive acid in its abdomen that it spits forth from its maw to ranges of ten meters or more. It is believed to be a genetic malformation of the Warrior and Tanker Bug or perhaps a Warrior and a Plasma insect.
  • Blaster Bug –nearly identical to the Blister Bug except it sprays a flammable liquid that burns at temperatures exceeding 500° Celsius instead of a corrosive liquid. Blaster Bug swarms can simultaneously fire large amounts of this fuel in synchronized bursts creating massive firestorms capable of fusing soil into a glass-like substance. Blaster Bugs swarms also generate enough residual heat collectively to form a dome-shaped heat shield capable of destroying incoming weapons fire and missiles. Like the Plasma Bug, they are also vulnerable underneath to explosive attacks. Unlike its cousin the Blister Bug, Blaster Bugs generally attack in massed swarms for maximum effect, whereas Blister Bugs attack individually or in smaller swarms supported by Warrior Bugs.
  • Cliffmite Bug – Looking like giant dust mites, these things pose more of an annoyance rather than threat. They will burrow into walls and leap out at enemies, trying to encase them so they can devour them. They will also rip hooks and lines out of walls, their most dangerous tactic as this usually seriously impedes, even imperils, human soldiers. They can climb vertically and at any angle.
  • Nurse Spider Bug – A combination spider and nurse, these bugs use their webbing to collect massive amounts of eggs for transport or augmentation.
  • Transport Bug – These massive, ship-sized forms of plasma bug function as the troop transport. They carry the masses of the swarm from place to place to reinforce colonies or to bring important bugs like Brains or Queens to strategically important star-systems. In the Roughnecks episode "Trackers", it is implied that the Transport Bugs can cover a distance of some 75 light-years at speeds comparable to human-built starships.

Castes from the role-playing game

  • Assassin bug – a species of bugs that were created as assassins where they attacked a sole target, normally the leader of a squad and were single minded in eliminating them.
  • Chameleon bug – similar to the Assassin bug strain, these bugs possessed a skin that masked them with their environment.
  • Spy bug— designed to look like cockroaches and served as spies.
  • Breeder bug – a strain designed simply to lay large quantities of eggs. They can be commanded to double their production but this inevitably kills the breeder from exhaustion.

Castes from the first-person shooter game

  • Tiger bug – Fundamentally the same as a Warrior, Tigers are more aggressive and have chitinous armor plates.
  • Tiger Spit – A breed of the Tiger Bug. The Tiger Spit still has a physical shape similar to Tiger bugs except for the lower jaw, which lacks a hook that the former two bugs have, and their glowing green color. The Tiger Spit attacks with its front legs, mandibles, and raptorial legs; most often, this bug attacks at a distance by spiting acid at its enemies, which is what it was bred for.
  • Tiger Shard – Another breed of the Tiger, the Tiger Shard has roughly the same physical shape as Tigers, but the Tiger Shard has maroon, yellow, and blue markings a long with many spines on its body. Tiger Shards can attack with their front legs, mandibles, and raptorial legs, but like the Tiger Spit, this bug often attacks at a distance, though it is easily provoked into a charge. Unlike the Tiger Spit the Tiger Shard fires darts of solidified plasma instead of acid.
  • Baby Tanker – Like its name suggests this believed to be the infant form of the fearsome tanker bug, though there is uncertainty. Baby Tankers can easily intervene in a battle, scattering even the best mobile infantry units. Unlike larger Tankers, a Baby Tanker is small enough to provide close support in almost any situation, performing a similar function to a main battle tank. Baby Tankers attack with a corrosive spray from a tube on their head like their adult counterparts, with the added function of spitting the fluid in smaller globs over long distances. When an enemy gets close enough, a Baby Tanker will try to crush it.
  • Baby Plasma – The infant form of the massive plasma bug. Operating as both long range artillery support and anti-air support, this bug can intervene into any battle within range. Not only can this bug launch plasma from behind, but it can fire a stream of plasma from its head in the manner of a tanker bug. Also if an enemy gets to close this bug will use its massive body to crush it.

See also

External links

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