Help with identification, please?
Hi, I just found your site…I can’t stand bugs but this is a great idea! We’ve seen these bugs just in the last year or two here around our home. We live just across the road from the Susquehanna River, in Northeast PA (about 40 miles from the capitol of Harrisburg.) And we live near a chicken farm (with trees between us and the farm.) This photo shows what I believe to be a baby –we call them "red and black bugs". They don’t fly but live in the trees and also collect on the top rail of our fence and on the roof of the kids’ playhouse. They are sometimes found on what we call a "nest" –a kind of dark colored, low profiled honeycomb looking thing attached to the tree bark. Not sure if this is where they live or where they store their food? They grow to be at least an inch long, and if I recall correctly, the red on their tail section becomes less pronounced. They’ve got this strange red tail section that sticks up in the air. They have 3 legs down each side, 2 long antenna, and a hook-like thing at their mouth, which in the first picture is extended outward. They seem to be able to tuck it in and out whenever they want to. When they see you coming, they make evasive maneuvers to get away from you and will not hesitate to jump down to the grass from their perch in order to get away. I have seen one or two eating/carrying bugs. Also, some have a black stripe down the back of their red tail section, and some don’t have that. This particular example has the black stripe. I guess if you could tell me if they’re harmful, bite, sting etc. and of course what they’re called, I would sure appreciate it…also, what we can do to get rid of them? Or just leave them be? Thanks so much, I look forward to your reply.

Hi Marjorie,
What a nice descriptive letter. You hit all the points we like people to tell us regarding the photos they send. This is an immature Wheel Bug. They are predators and very beneficial in gardens and orchards. They eat many harmful insects. On the down side, they can bite painfully, but the bite is not dangerous. Just don’t handle them. Adult Wheel Bugs have wings and can fly. They have a distinctive coglike crest which alludes to the common name.

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