What Do Wheel Bugs Eat: A Handy Guide to Their Diet

Wheel bugs are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics, such as the prominent cog-like ‘wheel’ on their thorax, making them easy to identify. You might be curious about what these insects eat and how their diet impacts the environment around them. These large insects, also known as Arilus cristatus, are actually members of the assassin bug … Read more

Wheel Bug vs Kissing Bug: Unveiling the Key Differences

Wheel bugs and kissing bugs are two insects that might appear similar at first glance, but they have distinct features and behaviors. In this article, you’ll learn about their differences and the reasons for their intriguing names. The wheel bug is named for the distinctive, wheel-like structure on its back. These bugs are predators that … Read more

Bugs That Look Like Stink Bugs: Surprising Lookalikes to Watch Out For

Stink bugs are notorious for their unpleasant odor and potential damage to crops, but not all bugs that look like stink bugs are pests. In fact, some insects that resemble stink bugs are actually beneficial predators in the ecosystem. It’s essential to know the differences between them to avoid harming these helpful insects.

One such insect often mistaken for a stink bug is the two-spotted stink bug. This beneficial predator is easily distinguished from other stink bugs by its two spots and distinctive keyhole markings in adults. The two-spotted stink bug is not picky when it comes to their prey and helps to control the populations of harmful insects.

Another insect that may look like a stink bug but is actually helpful to gardeners is the predatory stink bug. These insects attack over 100 species of pest insects, feeding on them and helping to maintain a balanced ecosystem. They can be identified by having a shorter, stouter beak than their pest relatives like the brown marmorated stink bug.

Identifying Stink Bugs and Their Lookalikes

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs belong to the family Pentatomidae, characterized by their shield-like shape and membranous wings that fold flat along their back, often forming an X pattern. They have straw-like, piercing-sucking mouthparts, a small head, and antennae with five segments1.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is between 14 and 17 mm long, about the size of a U.S. dime. Its features include:

  • Shield-shaped body with brown mottling
  • Alternating broad light and dark bands on the abdominal edges and last two antennal segments
  • Females lay clusters of 20-30 light green or yellow, elliptical-shaped eggs from May through August

Green Stink Bug

The Green Stink Bug, or Acrosternum hilare, has:

  • Pure white eggs, laid in clusters of about 20-502
  • Smooth eggshells with numerous micropylar processes (little nubs at the egg’s crown), which distinctly bend at the end
  • Early nymph stages with tiny, oval-shaped bodies

Southern Green Stink Bug

Including the Southern Green Stink Bug, or Nezara viridula, in the list of stink bug lookalikes:

  • Subtropical species commonly found in the southern United States
  • Bright green body, resembling the Green Stink Bug
  • Rounded pronotum edges (the area behind the head)

Rice Stink Bug

The Rice Stink Bug, Oebalus pugnax, is recognized by:

  • Narrow, elongated body shape
  • Light brown to golden brown color
  • Predominantly found in rice fields

Red-Shouldered Stink Bug

The Red-Shouldered Stink Bug, Thyanta custator, has these characteristics:

  • Oval or shield-shaped body with a reddish-brown color
  • Two red spots on the “shoulders” (pronotum)
  • Unique “keyhole” markings

Shield Bug

The Shield Bug, often confused with stink bugs, can be differentiated by:

  • Less pronotum width3
  • Predatory habits towards other insects

Comparison Table

Feature Brown Marmorated Green Southern Green Rice Red-Shouldered Shield
Body Shape Shield-shaped Shield-shaped Shield-shaped Narrow, elongated Oval or shield-shaped Similar to stink bugs
Size (Length) 14-17 mm Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified
Color Brown mottling Green Bright green Light to golden brown Reddish-brown Varies
Pronotum Shape Not specified Not specified Rounded edges Not specified Not specified Narrower
Unique Markings Bands on antennae White eggs Not specified Not specified Red spots on shoulders Keyhole markings

Similar Insects and How to Differentiate

Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs are often mistaken for stink bugs due to their similar brown color and size. However, they can be differentiated by:

  • Kissing bugs have a conical head shape.
  • They possess a longer, thinner body than stink bugs.

These bugs can transmit Chagas disease, making it essential to correctly identify them.

Assassin Bugs

Assassin bugs resemble stink bugs, but they:

  • Have a more elongated body shape.
  • Their front legs are adapted for grabbing prey.

These bugs are considered beneficial since they prey on other insect pests.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are smaller and rounder than stink bugs, with:

  • A reddish-brown, oval-shaped body.
  • No wings, unlike stink bugs.

Bed bugs are notorious for infesting human living spaces and feeding on our blood.

Harlequin Bug

Harlequin bugs have distinct markings and can be differentiated by their:

  • Black and bright red or orange pattern.
  • Rounded body shape.

These pests feed on leaves and can cause damage to crops like cabbage and kale.

Squash Bug

Squash bugs are a garden pest that can be mistaken for stink bugs. However, they:

  • Are typically larger in size.
  • Have a dull grayish-brown color.

Squash bugs feed on plants in the cucurbit family, like squash and pumpkins.

Leaf-Footed Bug

Leaf-footed bugs have a somewhat similar appearance to stink bugs but can be recognized by:

  • Their leaf-like hind leg extensions.
  • A more elongated body shape.

These bugs can cause damage to plants such as tomatoes.

Ladybugs

Although not often confused with stink bugs, ladybugs have a distinct appearance:

  • Rounded, bright red or orange body with black spots.
  • Much smaller than stink bugs.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects that feed on pests like aphids.

In conclusion, differentiating between stink bugs and their similar-looking counterparts can be accomplished by examining their unique features, such as body shape, color, and size. Recognizing these differences is crucial for effective pest control and maintaining a healthy garden ecosystem.

Biology and Habitat of Stink Bugs and Lookalikes

Feeding Habits

Stink bugs, such as the invasive Halyomorpha halys, have a needle-like proboscis that they use to pierce and suck the fluids from various plants. Some examples of the plants they feed on include:

  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Soybeans
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

On the other hand, predatory stink bugs, like Perillus bioculatus are beneficial insects that feed on more than 100 species of insect pests, such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Hemiptera
  • Invasive insects

The saliva of stink bugs often causes damage to crops and ornamental plants, while the saliva of predatory stink bugs helps control pest populations.

Lifecycle

Stink Bugs Predatory Stink Bugs
Overwinter as adults Overwinter as adults
Proliferate in the spring Proliferate in the spring

Both stink bugs and predatory stink bugs have similar lifecycles, where they overwinter as adults and proliferate during the spring, contributing to the overall stability of their habitats.

Distribution

Stink bugs, specifically the brown marmorated stink bug, is native to Asia and has become an invasive insect in the United States since the mid-1990s. They are known to cause damage to various food crops like broccoli, rice, soybeans, and many more.

Predatory stink bugs have a larger distribution and can be found throughout North America, benefiting gardens by controlling pest populations.

Habitat

Both stink bugs and their predatory lookalikes inhabit similar habitats. They both need to overwinter, which they do by seeking shelter in places like buildings on warm winter days. While they share a preference for shelter during colder months, predatory stink bugs are more commonly found in gardens and farms where their food sources (other insect pests) are abundant.

Impact on Agriculture and Home Gardens

Agricultural Crops Affected

The brown marmorated stink bug is an agricultural pest that affects a wide range of crops. For example:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Peaches

Originally from Asia, this invasive species has spread throughout the United States, causing significant damage to farmers’ crops. Additionally, it has been reported that in Oregon, the amount of invasive brown marmorated stink bugs in 2022 has reached a new peak, posing a serious threat to fruit and vegetable crops in the area.

Garden Plants Affected

Stink bugs can also be a nuisance in home gardens, feeding on various plants like:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Roses

These pests may cause discoloring, wilting, and deformities in affected plants.

Management Strategies

Farmers and gardeners should adopt various strategies to control stink bug populations and minimize their impacts.

Biological control: Researchers are investigating the use of natural predators, such as parasitic wasps, to help control stink bug populations.

Pesticides: In agricultural settings, farmers may rely on insecticides to control stink bug infestations. However, excessive use of pesticides may be harmful to other organisms and the environment.

Traps: Both farmers and home gardeners can utilize pheromone traps, which attract stink bugs and trap them for easy removal.

Physical barriers: Gardeners can use floating row covers to protect their plants from stink bugs. Proper sealing of homes can also prevent stink bugs from becoming a household nuisance.

A comparison table of management strategies:

Management Strategy Pros Cons
Biological control Environmentally friendly, targets specific pests Limited availability, may take time
Pesticides Effective control of large infestations Harmful to other organisms, environmental concerns
Traps Target specific pests, non-toxic alternatives May not be as effective
Physical barriers Prevents access by pests, helps with other insects Requires proper installation, labor-intensive

By employing these strategies, farmers and gardeners can limit the damages caused by stink bugs and protect their crops and plants.

Preventing Infestation in Homes

Sealing Entry Points

One of the best ways to prevent infestations in homes is by sealing entry points. Bugs that look like stink bugs, such as the soldier bug, can enter through tiny gaps in walls, doors, windows, and chimneys. Here are some steps you can take to seal your home:

  • Walls: Inspect your home’s exterior for cracks and gaps, and seal them with caulking or weatherstripping
  • Doors and windows: Install tight-fitting screens and door sweeps to prevent bugs from sneaking in
  • Chimney: Use a chimney cap to keep insects out while allowing smoke to escape

Removing Food Sources

Eliminating food sources is another important step in preventing infestations. Stink bugs and their look-alikes, such as immature soldier bugs with light green bodies and red eyes, typically feed on plants, leaf litter, and aphids. To minimize the availability of food for these insects:

  • Keep your yard free from decaying plant material
  • Trim trees and bushes away from your house
  • Control aphid populations in your garden

Using Pheromone Traps

Using pheromone traps is an effective and non-toxic method to catch stink bugs and similar insects. These traps release pheromones that attract the pests, causing them to congregate and become trapped. You can place these traps both inside and outside your home, including in your chicken coop, to reduce the likelihood of an infestation.

Here is a comparison table between three methods to prevent infestations in homes:

Method Pros Cons
Sealing entry points Limits access for insects Time-consuming, may require maintenance
Removing food sources Reduces pests’ food supply Can require regular yard work and garden care
Using pheromone traps Non-toxic, effective May require frequent trap replacement, could attract more bugs initially

By following these prevention techniques, you can help protect your home from a bug infestation. Remember to identify and address potential entry points, eliminate food sources, and consider using pheromone traps to help keep your home bug-free.

When to Seek Professional Help

Signs of Severe Infestation

  • Contaminated items: If you find food or living spaces with evidence of bug droppings or damage, this could indicate a severe infestation.
  • Large numbers: Encountering significant numbers of bugs resembling stink bugs, like ticks, silverfish, or harlequin cabbage bugs, might warrant professional help.
  • Eating habits: Unusual damage to plants, including cabbage leaves with numerous holes, could signal a harlequin cabbage bug problem.

Knowing when to call a pest control professional is essential since handling severe infestations on your own without proper knowledge may not yield successful results.

Choosing a Pest Control Professional

Pros Cons
Expert knowledge Cost
Effective treatment Possible use of chemicals
Long-term solutions Scheduling appointments

Make sure to:

  1. Read reviews of local pest control professionals to ensure you choose a reputable service provider.
  2. Compare prices between different companies so that you find the best deal.
  3. Ask about their methodology and whether they use eco-friendly methods, especially if you have concerns about chemicals.

Examples of bugs that resemble stink bugs include silverfish, ticks, and harlequin cabbage bugs. Dealing with these pests successfully involves understanding their habits, identifying the severity of the infestation, and seeking professional help when necessary.

Footnotes

  1. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/stink-bugs

  2. https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/30842/Field%20Guide%20to%20Stink%20Bugs.pdf

  3. https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/biological-control-information-center/beneficial-predators/two-spotted-stink-bug/

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings, we believe

 

6 legged orange butt black leggs
Fri, Apr 10, 2009 at 9:05 AM
Hi, My name is Sonya and I noticed these bugs on my October Maple tree about 2-3 weeks ago. I live in the Charleston South Carolina area. There is a grouping of these small 6 black legged bugs with orange butts. They tend to stay grouped together but you can find smaller groups of 2-3 in other areas of the tree. I also noted today that there was 2 larger ones that were different colors, mostly orange and some yellow with little to no black on them, they appeared to be mating with some smaller bugs with no orange on them, just black and smaller butts. When I went out with the camera a couple of hours later, after finding this site, I couldn’t find the different ones. Also since I’ve first noted the bugs their butts have changed slightly and now appear to have small black dots in the center of the rear. They also have a small nest of sorts that is dripping stuff down the tree.

Wheel Bug Eggs and Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Eggs and Hatchlings

I hope this is descriptive enough. Thank you very much for your help. I’ve lived in SC my whole life and don’t recall ever seeing these bugs before.
Sonya in SC
South East

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Hi Sonya,
These are newly hatched Hemipterans, or True Bugs.  It is often very difficult to properly identify hatchlings, but we believe these are Wheel Bugs a type of Assassin Bug.  Wheel Bugs, Arilus cristatus, are predators.  The nest you noticed are the eggs laid in a distinctive cluster by the female Wheel Bug.  The hatchlings stay together for a very short time and then they go rogue to hunt alone.  You can compare your specimens to this photo on BugGuide.  The one thing that would make us suspect these may be some other Hemipteran is that in one of your photos, the hatchlings appear to be feeding off of tree sap.  We are uncertain if perhaps immature Wheel Bugs may be attracted to certain plant juices.

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Letter 2 – Wheel Bug Nymph

 

Assassin bug?
Hi, I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland and I’ve been seeing these bugs on my deck over the last month or so. I’m curious to find out about the because I keep finding them on my children. I want to know if they bite and what kind of bite they will get (swelling like a mosquito bite?). I saw a picture on this site that was similar. It was identified as a Wheel Bug Nymph, but all the pictures that I see elsewhere on the internet of the wheel bug, look very different. Could these be VERY immature wheel bugs? Whatever info you could give would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Kelly

Hi Kelly,
This is most assuredly an immature Assassin Bug, most probably a Wheel Bug. The wingless nymphs have a distinctive red abdomen, and it is not until they mature into winged adults that the characteristic cog-like wheel attains its magnificence. The scientific name for the Wheel Bug is Arilus cristatus. All we know about the bite is that it is reputed to be painful, but not dangerous.

Letter 3 – Wheel Bug Nymph

 

What’s this bug?
Location: Northwestern Ohio
July 11, 2011 12:06 am
Dear Bugman,
I found this bug in the late afternoon as it walked on the leaves of a large flowering bush. It’s about 5/8” long from the front of it’s head to the end of its abdomen and has a light blue/gray short-cropped fuzz covering most of it’s body.
If you have any questions you are welcome to ask me!
I took the included images myself an you have my permission to use and/or edit them and this note as you see fit.
I thank you in advance for satisfying my curiosity about this friendly little guy.
Signature: Curtis in Ohio

I write you earlier… I just figured it out!
Location: Northwestern Ohio
July 11, 2011 1:00 am
Dear Bugman,
Upon further exploration of your amazing website, I Believe that I have correctly identified the bug in question as a wheel bug nymph. They don’t look much like their grown-up selves, do they? I’ve been able to identify mature wheel bugs since I was a kid. Thanks for teaching me something today! Keep up the good work!
Although you now needn’t publish my inquiry on your forum, you’re still welcome to use the images I’ve included if you like.
Signature: Curtis in Ohio

Wheel Bug Nymph

Hi Curtis,
This is an immature Wheel Bug, one of the predatory Assassin Bugs.  You might want to exercise caution with your finger.  You do not want the Wheel Bug to mistake your finger for a fat caterpillar.  Wheel Bugs have a beak-like mouth that is used for piercing prey and sucking out fluids.  Wheel Bugs are not aggressive, but they can and will bite if accidentally encountered, or carelessly handled.

Letter 4 – Wheel Bug Eggs

 

Unknown egg cases – help Bugman
February 21, 2010
My daughter and I discovered this array of egg cases on the underside of a branch today, February 21st. The entire array measures maybe 3/4 x 3/4 inch. They are stuck to the branch by a mass of black goo.
Curious in NC
Central North Carolina

Wheel Bug Eggs

Dear Curious,
These are the eggs of a Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus, the largest Assassin Bug in North America.  Wheel Bugs are beneficial predators that will help control the population of many plant eating insects in your garden.  BugGuide has an image of the hatching eggs for an idea what the hatchlings will look like.

Wheel Bug Eggs

Thanks so much for the quick reply. We are overrun with wheel bugs here and know them well but never knew what the eggs looked like. My daughter is watching them daily in hopes of catching them hatching.
We really enjoy the site, thanks for taking the time.
Regards,
Bill

Letter 5 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings

 

What type of insect are these?
May 29, 2009
What type of insect are these?
I was trimming bushes and noticed what appeared to be a small nest (for lack of a better word) on the side of a service berry tree. A couple days later the bugs hatched and were grouped around the nest. I’ve not been able to identify these. What are they?
George in Central Ohio
Central Ohio

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Hi George,
These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs, a species of Assassin Bug.  Most Assassin Bugs, including Wheel Bugs, are beneficial predators.

Letter 6 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings exterminated after hatching indoors

 

bugs hatching
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
January 26, 2011 7:24 pm
Just the other day my roommates and I were in the living room when we noticed a dark spot up my our fireplace. When I climbed up to investigate, I noticed it wasn’t just one bug but a whole bunch of small ones hatching. The area there were in was roughly the size of a adult female palm. They were found in January in Oklahoma. They were about a foot from the celing on the brick around our fireplace in the living room. We caught one in a peice of tape and took it to the home depot and though they couldn’t id the type, they gave us some Raid which killed them. We had a huge problem with black widows in the fall and I’m worried they might be babies that are just hatching. Any ideas? Do we need to have someone come spray for them?
Signature: Amanda

Wheel Bug Hatchlings before the insecticide

Hi Amamda,
This is a cluster of Wheel Bug hatchlings, a beneficial predator.  It is odd that the egg cluster was laid indoors, but the fact that they were found near a fireplace brings up a possibility.  Perhaps a female Wheel Bug was prowling through the wood pile outdoors looking for a Black Widow Spider to prey upon when the log was taken indoors.  Adult Wheel Bugs are dark gray and they would blend in with the color of the log.  Left with no other alternatives, the Wheel Bug laid her eggs on the ceiling of the living room.  Because of the heat indoors, the eggs hatched early.  Hatchling Wheel Bugs do look somewhat spiderlike and they do have red and black coloration like Black Widows, so your mistake is understandable.  Hatching indoors did not leave them very good odds of survival even without the insecticide, but we are going to tag this posting as Unnecessary Carnage nonetheless because as we stated originally, Wheel Bugs are beneficial predators.

A reader Comments:
RE: hatchling wheel bugs
January 27, 2011 10:07 am
Hello BugMan,
I am writing to you today to convey a message to your readership. I was very dismayed to see all of the wheel bug hatchlings that met a very early demise. This was a very unfortunate event with these awesome wheel bugs, and even though in your response you say Amanda’s mistaking them for Black Widow babies is understandable because of the similar colors and them being ”spiderlike”, I noticed clearly in Amanda’s picture that the bugs have antenna. So that is my message for your readers: if you see something that has antenna, it’s not a spider, as spiders don’t have antenna. Sincerely, Amy
Signature: Amy

Thank you for the response and I inderstand the Unnecessary Carnage tagging though I think you understand my fear they were baby black widows. I would like to point out as well that our fire place is gas and has been sealed up by the homeowners as they do not want renters “setting the house on fire” 🙂 We assumed they climbed in through the fireplace. The next time we find them we will be sure to relocated them back outside where they belong (which I do with most of the insects that find their way in my house with the exception of the black widow.) Can you answer a question of whether or not they bite? I have read several things online that differ. Thank you!
Amanda

Hi again Amanda,
Wheel Bugs can bite, but they do not typically bite humans.  Careless handling might result in a bite.  Certain other Assassin Bugs are more prone to biting, and some species, like Kissing Bugs actually feed on warm blooded hosts, including humans.

Letter 7 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings

 

Exotic looking insect
Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 11:45 AM
I saw these in my backyard and have no idea what they are. I am sending this pic because describing them would not give a clear picture as to what they are.
Eric
Pennsylvania

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Hello Eric,
We just posted a letter and photo of a Wheel Bug nymph, and we mentioned that we often get sightings of Wheel Bug hatchlings in the spring.  Hours later, your photo of Wheel Bug hatchlings arrived.  Wheel Bugs are a species of Assassin Bugs and they are beneficial predators in the yard, but they can bite if provoked.  Hatchling Wheel Bugs are often described as antlike or spiderlike, and they look very different from the winged adult with the coglike structure of the thorax which resembles a wheel.

Letter 8 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings

 

Crazy bugs
Location: Spring, TX
March 7, 2011 12:52 pm
What are these? Help!
Signature: Mary

Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Hi Mary,
These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs.  They are beneficial predators.

Thanks!  Someone said they eat caterpillars.  We raise butterflies.  I’m not sure I’ll view them as beneficial. : )

Letter 9 – Wheel Bug Metamorphosis

 

Mating Wheel Bugs
I got some great pictures this morning of mating Wheel Bugs, although I’ve never seen an orange one before. Do they change their color for "mating season"? Or is this just a different type of Wheel Bug than the usual black Wheel Bug that I always see around here?: I will also attach the pictures in case you have trouble seeing them in this e-mail. Thanks!
Laura Frazier

Hi Laura,
The orange Wheel Bug in your photo is newly metamorphosed and has not darkened to its normal adult coloration yet. Its “partner” is really the discarded exoskeleton. Thanks for sending in your photo of Wheel Bug metamorphosis. It is rare that we get 11 views at almost 1M per image to choose from. To be honest, we just opened three and chose the best, knowing full well there might have been a gem we missed.

Letter 10 – Wheel Bug: Lays eggs in fall. Eggs hatch in spring

 

What’s this bug?
Location: Cincinnati, OH
May 13, 2011 3:11 pm
Back on October 24th, we came home and saw this bug laying eggs right by our front door. This week, the eggs hatched. I’m attaching pictures of both.
Signature: maddenmama

Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Dear maddenmama,
We are really impressed that you left this unknown egg mass to hatch.  These are beneficial Wheel Bug hatchlings.  Wheel Bugs are important predators that will help keep your garden free of many insects that are injurious to plants.  The hatchlings will soon disperse.  They will also lose their red coloration.  The image you provided of the female Wheel Bug depositing her eggs shows the coglike structure on the thorax which is the inspiration for the common name Wheel Bug.  They have been referred to as the Stegosaurus Bug by several of our readers.  Wheel Bugs are the largest Assassin Bugs in North America.  They are not aggressive toward humans or pets, but if they are carelessly handled, they might bite.  The bite is painful, but harmless.

Seven Months earlier: Wheel Bug lays eggs

Letter 11 – Horehound Bugs from Australia

 

Subject: Bug identification
Location: Townsville, QLD, Australia
September 14, 2016 12:20 am
Hi, after two days of morning rain my Thai basil plants were covered with these bugs. I’ve tried google images but can’t find bugs with the same pattern. Could you please identify these for me? Thank you
Signature: Mariah

Horehound Bugs
Horehound Bugs

Dear Mariah,
We quickly identified your beautiful Stink Bugs as Horehound Bugs,
Agonoscelis rutila, thanks to the Alamy site, and we verified that identification on the Brisbane Insect site where it states:  “They are called Horehound bugs because they are usually found on the weed horehound Marrubium vulgare. Sometimes it swarms on foliage and blossoms of fruit trees and ornamental plants but normally causes little injury. “

Letter 12 – Wheel Bug Eggs

 

bug eggs?
Ok, any idea what these things could be? My boyfriend located them on a tree in his back yard and I am very curious.
thanks,
taryn

Hi Taryn,
Your boyfriend discovered a cluster of Wheel Bug Eggs, Arilus cristatus. This species of Assassin Bug is beneficial in the garden as it preys on many destructive pests.

Letter 13 – Harlequin Stink Bug

 

Bug Query with Pictures
Hi!
I was browsing through your site, with great enjoyment, after we found some 30 to 50 of a particular bug on one of our flower plants. Unfortunately, the site is too large for me to do an exhaustive search (although I did look through all 10 beetle pages and a few others). The closest match seemed to be a ladybird pupa, but the picture wasn’t clear enough for me to be certain, and the markings were different (which would be no surprise, given the variation among ladybird beetles). They do seem rather larger than the ladybird beetles we’re used to seeing. We’re in the middle of a city, western Los Angeles, California (90210). In any case, we’d like to find out what these are. They’re black with orange markings, 8-10 cm long, half that in width, fairly flat, with three rows of orange spots on the underside (middle row shorter). One of the pictures shows them at the base of a rose, which was a typical place to find a group of 3 to 8. The other two show two on a poppy stalk, which was more exposed than most of them. It was still cool in the morning, and most were quite inactive; one of them on a rose stem continually wandered around to the far side of the stem while I tried to photograph. No observation of them flying or of wings, although I did see one twitch the triangular patch on its back. All pictures were taken with a flash, and so the edges and highlights are more pronounced than they appeared to the eye. Thanks,
Leif
P.S. Please feel free to make use of the pictures I took in any way you wish.

Hi Leif,
These are not beetles, but true bugs or Hemipterans. More specifically, they are Harlequin Stink Bugs. We generally see them from other parts of the country more pronounced orange markings, but an image on BugGuide from Los Angeles, is a very close match to your image.

Letter 14 – Harlequin Stink Bug

 

Subject: Friend or foe?
Location: Southeastern Virginia
October 21, 2013 5:04 pm
I can’t tell if this bug does damage to my plants or to other pests or neither. I do seem to find them on plants that have damage especially cole crops and squash. The one in the picture was moved from the garden to the front of the shed so I could get a good photo.
Signature: Thanks! Rebecca

Harlequin Stink Bug
Harlequin Stink Bug

Hi Rebecca,
You probably want to consider the Harlequin Stink Bug as a foe.  The Harlequin Stink Bug uses its piercing and sucking mouthparts to take fluids from plants in the cabbage family, including kale.  If they are numerous, they may cause significant damage.

Letter 15 – Harlequin Stink Bug

 

Subject: What is this colorful bug/insect?
Location: Laurel, MD
November 22, 2015 4:54 am
I was about to open this organics baby spring mix greens, triple washed, sealed in plastic bin, when I noticed this bug (beetle, perhaps?) in the container. I would love to know what this bug is and likely that it is not dangerous or anything, since I know nothing about insects really, but do find them interesting. The bin does say, product of USA.
The bug crawls slowly, like a beetle crawls.
Thank you for any help with this identification.
Signature: Suzanne Arnold

Harlequin Stink Bug
Harlequin Stink Bug

Dear Suzanne,
This is a Harlequin Stink Bug,
Murgantia histrionica, and though it is a variable species with regard to markings, the orange, black and white coloration is quite distinctive.  Here is an image from BugGuide.  Finding it among organic greens makes perfect sense because according to BugGuide:  “hosts: primarily Brassicaceae (horseradish, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard, Brussels sprouts, turnip, kohlrabi, radish); may also attack tomato, potato, eggplant, okra, bean, asparagus, beet, weeds, fruit trees and field crops.”

Dear Daniel – Thank you so much!  I still have him/her, so will release him/her to the outside.  I will go look that Bug Guide up as well.   I am so appreciative of your help; I have been looking, but had not come across this particular bug, and there are so many, many quite beautiful types, species, out there; it is just amazing.  Thanks again.

Letter 16 – Harlequin Stink Bug in Mount Washington

 

July 26, 2009
While photographing the Bagrada hilaris mating on our kale, we noticed this Harlequin Stink Bug, Murgantia histrionica, on our collard greens.  They look quite similar in terms of color and markings, but the Bagrada is much smaller.

Harlequin Stink Bug
Harlequin Stink Bug

We went back out with the camera, placed two specimens in the freezer to slow them down, and took the following size comparison photo between Bagrada and Murgantia.

Bagrada (left) and Murgantia size comparison
Bagrada (left) and Murgantia size comparison

Letter 17 – Harlequin Stink Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Is this a variety of ladybug?
Location: San Jose East foothills
May 5, 2013 2:39 pm
I found a bunch of these as I was clearing out some alyssum and weeds next to my clemetis. It is small (about 1/8-1/4” max) looks kinda like a lady bug in shape but different markings and I wanted to know if it was beneficial or not. This was taken May 5th
Thanks!
Signature: Denise

Harlequin Stink Bug Nymph
Harlequin Stink Bug Nymph

Dear Denise,
This is the nymph of a Harlequin Stink Bug,
Murgantia histrionica, a species that feeds on fluids of plants mainly in the cabbage family.  You can compare your image to this photo on BugGuide.

Thank You for such a quick reply – and on a Sunday too!
Your site is great!

Letter 18 – Harlequin Stink Bug Nymph

 

Subject: harlequin nymph?
Location: Fountain Valley CA
May 16, 2014 1:22 pm
I first thought these were beetles, but now I suspect they are harlequin bug nymphs. Any help with ID? These were photographed at Mile Square Park, Fountain Valley CA this morning 5/16/2014. Thanks
Signature: Woodworker

Harlequin Bug Nymph
Harlequin Bug Nymph

Dear Woodworker,
You are correct that this is a Harlequin Bug nymph, Murgantia histrionica.

Letter 19 – Harlequin Stink Bug Nymphs

 

Subject: unknown Beetle
Location: San Diego, CA
July 17, 2014 5:37 pm
I found these beetles at the Cabrillo Museum in sand Diego this weekend. Any idea what they are? I’ve searched the internet, and was unable to find a picture of them. Any help would be greatly appreciated
Signature: Debbi Haag

Harlequin Stink Bug Nymphs
Harlequin Stink Bug Nymphs

Hi Debbi,
These pretty critters are not beetles, but rather, they are True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera.  More specifically, they are immature Harlequin Stink Bugs,
Murgantia histrionica.  Adults have a similar coloration, and they have fully functional wings.  Harlequin Stink Bugs feed on plants in the cabbage family, so they are generally not welcome in the vegetable patch, and locally in California, they are often found feeding on wild mustard which has been introduced and has naturalized in many open spaces in the southland.  For more information on the Harlequin Stink Bug, you can try BugGuide.

Immature Harlequin Stink Bugs
Immature Harlequin Stink Bugs

One of your images depicts an adult with two nymphs.

Adult Harlequin Stink Bug with two nymphs
Adult Harlequin Stink Bug with two nymphs

Letter 20 – Harlequin Stink Bugs

 

Subject: It’s cute and it flies
Location: San Antonio, TX
July 16, 2013 1:33 pm
Dear Bugman,
I think this little critter is new to our garden. They started out living on my broccoli earlier this year. When it was time to remove those plants, they moved to the radish patch that was in front of the broccoli. They don’t seem to be disturbing the plants but they do like to fly around and crawl on me and my 3 year old son. He loves it and thinks of them as his bug friends. So, I want to make sure we are safe around them. Future thanks for any information you might be able to provide!
Signature: Katie

Harlequin Stink Bugs
Harlequin Stink Bugs

Dear Katie,
These Harlequin Stink Bugs,
Murgantia histrionica, will not harm your son, however, they are a plant feeding species and they are not healthy for plants in the cabbage family, including broccoli.

Letter 21 – Harlequin Stink Bugs

 

Subject: Murgantia histrionica – Harlequin Bug in Pennsylvania
Location: Mastersonville PA, North Chiques Road
September 8, 2013 3:43 pm
Hi Bugman
I have been an insect enthusiast since childhood and this is the first time I’ve seen harlequin bugs in our area (Lancaster PA). I read on bug guide.net that Pennsylvania is the northern part of their range.
There were around 50 individuals, nymphs and adults, on a cocklebur plant at my garden near Mastersonville, PA. Thought you could use some more photos of them since I only found once incidence of these insects on your site.
Melody McFarland
Lancaster, PA
Signature: Melody

Harlequin Stink Bugs
Harlequin Stink Bugs

Hi Melody,
Thank you so much for sending us your photos of Harlequin Stink Bugs.  We are especially intrigued that you found them feeding on cocklebur.  According to the UC Davis Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, cocklebur,
Xanthium strumarium, is in the sunflower family Asteraceae, and we have always associated the Harlequin Stink Bug with plants in the cabbage family Brassicaceae.  According to BugGuide, Harlequin Stink Bugs feed on:  “primarily Brassicaceae (horseradish, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard, Brussels sprouts, turnip, kohlrabi, radish); may also attack tomato, potato, eggplant, okra, bean, asparagus, beet, weeds, fruit trees and field crops.”  Searching our site with the internal search engine and the scientific name Murgantia histrionica, we found over ten postings buried in our archives.

Letter 22 – Harlequin Stink Bugs

 

Subject:  Pretty Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Bolsa Chica Reserve, Huntington Beach, CA
Date: 05/22/2018
Time: 02:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We saw many of these colorful bugs on a bladder pod plant. What are they?
How you want your letter signed:  Espressive

Harlequin Stink Bugs

These colorful Harlequin Stink Bugs, Murgantia histrionica, are commonly found feeding on plants in the cabbage family, so you finding them on bladderpod piqued our curiosity.  According to BugGuide:  “hosts: primarily Brassicaceae (horseradish, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard, Brussels sprouts, turnip, kohlrabi, radish); may also attack tomato, potato, eggplant, okra, bean, asparagus, beet, weeds, fruit trees and field crops.

Hi,
Thanks for the fast turnaround! I looked around quite a bit in What’s That Bug and the Bug Guide, but didn’t find these. Thanks for the answer.
Didn’t Charles Darwin once say that all his studies of nature taught him that God is inordinately fond of beetles? (and bugs, too). There are so many, if you don’t have a name to search on it’s just luck trying to find what you’re looking for.
Regards,
Gay

Letter 23 – Hatchling Stink Bug from Brazil

 

Subject:  need help identifying a cute bug my friend found
Geographic location of the bug:  sao paulo brazil
Date: 01/19/2018
Time: 05:18 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  hi my friend sent me this bug he thought was really pretty and i wanted to help identify it for him but i couldnt for the life of me figure out what the lil guy was!!!
my friend said it didnt jump or fly at all. it just crawled around
and if i had to guess it could be like a nymph of something maybe???
(these are my friends images)
How you want your letter signed:  charlie

Stink Bug Hatchling

Dear Charlie,
This little guy is a hatchling Heteropteran or True Bug, and we are pretty certain it is a hatchling Stink Bug in the family Pentatomidae.  It might not be possible to provide a species as nymphs can be difficult to identify with certainty.

Stink Bug Hatchling

THANKS SO MUCH
Me n him were goin crazy trying 2 figure it out haha!!! We thought it might have been a stink bug but we werent sure because we only came across brown stinkbug nymphs in our search i think, none that looked like this.
Its nice 2 know definitely thats what it was!!! Thanks a big bunch

Letter 24 – how to get rid of stink bugs???

 

Hi Bugman!
My name is Cynthia I live just outside of Stuttgart, Germany. September 2003 we moved into a new apartment. After a few weeks, the outside windows were covered by dozens of ‘stink bugs’. They look like the ones I remember from my childhood growing up in Charlotte, NC. I’ve attached a photo. They did everything they could to get into the apartment and we tried everything to keep them out. The last tenant said he never saw such bugs during his two years living here. During the Winter months, we did not see any of the bugs. This first week in Feb. has been quite warm and now every morning I have to remove 2-5 bugs from the apartment. The ‘What’s That Bug’ site says these bugs are plant eaters, but I have not found any on my house plants. This house does have lots of wood paneling. Could that be attracting them? Any suggestions on how to keep them out? They are a real pest and really make my skin crawl!
Thanks for any suggestions you can give!
Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,
You do have a Stink Bug, Family Pentatomidae. They can be recognized by the shieldlike shape and the large triangular scutullum, the posterior portion of the thorax. They are plant eaters, for the most part, though some prey on other insects. The mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking, so you won’t notice any chewed leaves. If the winter weather is warming, they could have roused themselves from hibernation and are seeking a new place to finish wintering over, hence their attraction to your house. They are seeking shelter, not food, so it is difficult to keep them out without making your house inhospitable. Sorry, I have no control advice.

Letter 25 – Immature Conchuela Stink Bug

 

Subject:  Round black beetle with white margin and 6 white spots on rear of abdomen
Geographic location of the bug:  Reno NV foothills 6000’ elevation
Date: 08/01/2019
Time: 02:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  These smallish round beatles have surprised us by coming into the house by the dozens.  Never saw them before. They are in scattered locations, mostly on the floor, and I don’t move much, but can move slowly or rather quickly if disturbed. I can’t figure out what they want or what they eat. Several are on the doorstep, anxious to come in if the door is opened.
They are round black beetles with white margin and 6 white spots on rear of abdomen.
How you want your letter signed:  Carolyn

Conchuela Stink Bug Nymph

Dear Carolyn,
This is not a Beetle.  It is an immature Stink Bug, and based on this BugGuide image, it is in the genus
Chlorochroa, probably the Conchuela Stink Bug.  According to BugGuide:  “prefers fleshy fruits of various plants, especially agarita, balsam-gourd and mesquite; also on sage, yucca, mustards, prickly pear (Opuntia), and various crops (cotton, alfalfa, corn, sorghum, grapes, peas, tomatoes, etc.); primarily a seed feeder preferring leguminous plants (once mesquite beans dry, the bugs move to more succulent plants). “

Letter 26 – Hatchling Predatory Shield Bugs from Australia

 

hatching shield bugs
May 6, 2010
Hi guys,
Hope the Mothers Day trip was great, you certainly deserve the time off. Hope also that you like this shot of hatching Predatory (also called Glossy) Shield Bugs. The fluoro ones will quickly harden off to match their slightly older siblings and go onto to fulfill their role of predator on caterpillars and the like. They are considered an important predator of agricultural pests.
Aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Predatory Shield Bug

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for sending the great photo of hatchling Predatory Shield Bugs.  Can you provide a species name?

Hi Daniel,
They are Cermatulus nasalis
regards,
Trevor

Thanks Trevor,
Nymphs can be very difficult to identify properly.

Letter 27 – Hairy Shieldbug from Wales

 

Subject: Pink Bug
Location: Presteigne, Powys
June 4, 2016 9:58 am
I live in the border country of Herefordshire/Shropshire/Wales. Near Presteigne, Powys. Rather high on a hill. This bug appeared on a stand of mint in a bed near the front of my house, south facing. This photo was taken today (4th June 2016). The weather was warm and overcast, no wind. The bug has a pink back with a metallic gold marking. An alternating pattern of black and white on either side, like a decorative trim.
Signature: Christine

Hairy Shieldbug
Hairy Shieldbug

Dear Christine,
Thanks to the British Bugs site, we were able to identify your Hairy Shieldbug, Dolycoris baccarum.  According to the site:  “A large and distinctive purple-brown and greenish shieldbug which is covered with long hairs. The antennae and connexivum are banded black and white. During the winter, the ground colour becomes uniformly dull brown.”  It is also called a Sloe Bug according to NatureSpot where it states:  “This bug overwinters as an adult, emerging in the spring. Larvae, which are also hairy, may be found on numerous plants besides Blackthorn, particularly those in the Roasaceae family. The new generation is complete from August onwards.”  According to Garden Safari:  “Of all the stink bugs this one is the worst. It really loves berries, especially Honeysuckle and Raspberries. It walks all over them, leaving behind an awful stinking substance. This makes all berries it walked over inedible. Like in other Stink Bugs the substance is made for protection. A bird or other enemy will eat only one bug in its entire live. Afterwards it will always remember the dreadful taste and will never touch another bug again.”

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your speedy reply. In spite of its beguiling pink and gold colours, it seems my bug is quite a nasty creature!
I am most grateful to you for taking the time to answer my question. Best wishes to you for your interesting website!
Christine
Herefordshire

Letter 28 – Hawthorn Shield Bug

 

Hawthorn Shield Bug (Stinkbug) from England
Thought you might like my pictures of a Hawthorn Shield Bug (or is it a Birch Shield Bug?) taken in my garden near Liverpool, England. I see from your pages they are called stinkbugs in the US, although this one didn’t stink, even when my curious eight year old dropped it (oops).
Sharron

Hi Sharron,
We also call the bugs in the family Pentatomidae Shield Bugs, but Stink Bugs is a more commonly used common name. We don’t recognize your species, but we are thrilled to have it as an example.

Letter 29 – Hong Kong Shield Bug nymph from India

 

Subject: Silver beetle with gold spots
Location: New bombay, Maharashtra, Western ghats
December 21, 2013 10:31 pm
Hey found this one at my workplace just around the time monsoon was setting in.
Signature: Best wishes

Immature True Bug
Hong Kong Shield Bug nymph

This is not a beetle, but rather an immature True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, possibly a Stink Bug in the family Pentatomidae.  Nymphs can often be very difficult to identify to the species level even when the adult is easily recognizable.

Update:  Hong Kong Shield Bug nymph
Thanks to a comment by the submitter who was able to continue research based on our response, we now know that this is a Hong Kong Shield Bug nymph,
Erthesina fullo, and we located a photo on website dedicated to Hong Kong insects.

Letter 30 – Wheel Bug feasting on Io Moth Caterpillar

 

wheelbug’s big appetite
I found this guy enjoying a meal. I know you have a great collection of pictures, but I thought you might enjoy this one. Thank You for a helpful site,
Dustin

Hi Dustin,
What a wonderful Food Chain image of a Wheel Bug sucking the fluids from an Io Moth Caterpillar. Thanks for sending it our way.

Letter 31 – Wheel Bug Nymph

 

black and orange bug
In the summer I saw a few of these bugs in the field, but I have not been able to find them in any of the fuild guides that I have. Can you tell me what it is?? Picture attached. Thanks so much.
Clotilde

Hi Clotilde,
Rarely do field guides show immature insects. This is a Wheel Bug Nymph. Adults have a distinctive coglike structure on the thorax.

Letter 32 – Wheel Bug deploys scent gland

 

Wheel Bug Ovipositing
I recently (12/09/06) came across this wheel bug ovipositing in the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge and wanted to share the images. I found the bug’s ovipositor(s) very interesting. Great site,
Anthony

Hi Anthony,
We have gotten many images of the distinctive Wheel Bug egg clusters, but this is the first for us. Thanks for sending your wonderful photo to us. Eric Eaton later clarified as to what was happening in this image: ” I just noticed that this wheel bug is NOT laying an egg, but deploying a scarlet scent gland in self-defense. Don’t know what triggers this behavior, but I did find a wheelbug in a spider web once that had spilled a great amount of bright orange goo like this. Eric “

Letter 33 – Wheel Bug Lays Eggs, Eggs Hatch

 

Wheel bug mom
Thought you might enjoy this wheel bug that nested near my shop last spring.
Keith

Hi Keith,
This is the first photo we have ever gotten of the adult female Wheel Bug with her eggs.

Letter 34 – Wheel Bug in a Pot

 

What is this Bug
My 8 year old found this on the back porch and was wondering what kind of bug it is. Note the spiny appendage on his back that I thought would make it easy to identify, but haven’t been able to find anything in the reference materials so far.
Ben
Eastern Missouri

Wheel Bug in a Pot
Wheel Bug in a Pot

Hi Ben,
If that is the 5 quart pasta pot, that has to be the biggest Wheel Bug on record. Handle with care as Wheel Bugs can deliver a painful bite. Seriously, what kind of pot is that in your photo, which we find terribly amusing, and perhaps our favorite Wheel Bug photo ever.

Thanks very much for the information.  Didn’t know they bite, so glad we asked.  No, it’s certainly not a 5 quart pasta pot.  Actually, the photo was very close-up and the “pot” is actually a doll-sized toy (probably 12 – 16 oz).  I would estimate the bug was 2.5″ to 3″ in length.  Thanks again,
DLM

Letter 35 – Wheel Bug Metamorphosis

 

Big red Bug.
August 8, 2009
Can you tell me what this is?
Patrick Robinson
Statesville, NC

Wheel Bug Metamorphosis
Wheel Bug Metamorphosis

Hi Patrick
Your newly metamorphosed Wheel Bug will turn black or dark gray when its exoskeleton hardens.
The colors of your photograph are quite striking.

Letter 36 – Wheel Bug Hatchlings

 

Spider like ants with orange abdomens
April 27, 2010
Hi, Im sorry if this email was sent twice, I’m not sure if the first sent, my pc is acting up. Anyway, I took these pics in April of 2010, these ants were found on a small willow tree in my yard. They have been more or less in the same spot, around a honey comb looking structure on the tree for several days. At first I thought they were spiders, untill I noticed only 6 legs instead of 8.
Chris M
North East Texas, west of Fort Worth

Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Hi Chris,
Each spring we get numerous images of Wheel Bug hatchlings, but your photos might be the best ever.  The Wheel Bug is North America’s largest Assassin Bug.

Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Read more

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