Giant Wheel Bug


Arilus cristatus
Family: Reduviidae (assassin bugs)
Alias: Wheel Bug

These photos are of a Giant Wheel Bug in its nymph stage. They were taken in front of the house where sunflowers were growing, which happens to be one of their favorite plants to hang out on.

Giant Wheel Bug Nymph

On a Sunflower stem. Just little at this stage, but will grow to fulfill its size as a member of the largest True Bug species.

Giant Wheel Bug Nymph

Hanging upside down

Giant Wheel Bug Nymph

Very long legs

Giant Wheel Bug Nymph

You can see its fang tucked below its head, pointing downward. This is what they use to attack their prey.


Range
Are seen in the Eastern United States from Rhode Island to Texas.

Habitat
Operates primarily from summer into fall in mostly leafy areas like forests, parks or shrubbery. They like to hang out on sunflowers, goldenrod, cotton, trunks of locust trees and various fruit and tree groves.

Food
Beetle larvae and adults, aphids, slow-moving caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.

Other
~ Not aggressive but will bite if mishandled; bite is very painful
~ Attacks its prey with aggressive stabbing motions using the fang at the front of its head
~ The family name Reduviidae literally means “hangnail”
~ One of the largest true bugs in existence
~ Named for the prominent spiny ridge  or “wheel” on the thorax
~ When threatened, it gives of =f a stench
~ During flight, they have been compared to an ultra-light plane or large grasshopper because they produce a loud buzzing sound


Information Resources
Bug Guide: Identification help
Wikipedia: A good supply of details
Insect Identification
Texas A&M: This site has the largest amount of information of these five
University of Kentucky: A good clear photo each of the adult and the nymph and information available to download in PDF  


 

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