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  • Wheel Bug - (Arilus cristatus)

    Wheel Bug - (Arilus cristatus)

    The Wheel Bug is a stealthy assassin with a fang even humans would be wise to avoid.

    Staff Writer (8/9/2016): This large insect is well-noted for its incredibly painful bite when disturbed or nonchalantly handled. A member of the Assassin Bug family, the Wheel Bug attacks its prey (other insects) with vicious stabbing motions using the 'fang' at the front of its head. This is the same fang that painfully stabs humans who handle it or disturb it.

    The Wheel Bug is best identified by the ridged, or spiny, wheel on its pronotum (back), which gives the insect its name. The Wheel Bug operates primarily from summer into fall and feeds on other insects including any slow-moving caterpillars. Its diet forces the Wheel Bug to reside primarily in leafy areas like forests, parks or shrubbery.

    Females lay eggs on twigs and branches in clusters that almost resemble a honeycomb shape. Tiny larvae hatch and look completely different from their adult form (see photos). These small red and black larvae will molt many times before growing to adult size and developing the 'wheel' on their backs.

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    Details of the:
    Wheel Bug

    Category: True Bug
    Common name: Wheel Bug
    Scientific Name: Arilus cristatus

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Hemiptera
          Family: Reduviidae
           Genus: Arilus
            Species: cristatus

    Size (Adult, Length): 28mm to 36mm (1.10in to 1.42in)

    Identifying Colors: brown; gray; blue; red; black

    Additional Descriptors: spiky back, wheel, saw, fuzzy, arched back, fang, flying

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Ontario; Quebec; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.