But why the scientific name of Zelus? Also according to Bugguide.net, Zelus was the son of Pallas and Styx. Zelus and siblings Nike (victory), Cratos (strength) and Bia (violence) were winged enforcers who stood in attendance at the throne of Zeus.
Cool! A "Winged Enforcer"! Perfect.
In the photo it looks as if the bug is about to jump. And it was. After I snapped a photo or two, it jumped down and flew to my arm. I couldn't get a photo of it then because I was using a telephoto lens. It walked around my arm for about 5 seconds and then flew away to another less supervised tree.
And yes, these bugs bite. Notice the sharp little beak that this one has. It works great for piercing skin. :) Fortunately, as I didn't try to catch it or bother it, it didn't bite me.
Since initially posting this article, Gail of http://gailatthefarm.blogspot.com/ passed on her experience with these bugs, writing: "And they do spear hands that get in the way. Feels like to the bone." When I hear the words "bite" and "to the bone"- that tells me that I definitely don't want to be bit by one of these insects!
A Texas A&M website indicates this about an Assassin Bug bite: Although most assassin bugs are slow-moving and non-aggressive, they will use their rostrum in self-defense if handled carelessly. Such bites may be rather painful to humans because the bugs inject the same salivary secretion used to dissolve the tissues of their prey. This results in the death of a small area of cells at the site of the bite. The symptoms are an intense burning sensation, often followed by a small, itchy lump that may persist for several days. However, no true toxin is involved so it is rare for the reaction to last long or to extend beyond the site of the bite.