Wheel Bug Hatchling Carnage: Beneficial Predators

Subject: Can you ID these and their nest
Location: Northern Texas
April 11, 2014 8:02 pm
I found some of these nymph stage bugs on my Live Oak tree last year and then this year i found several of their nests on my trees and house. The 1st picture is from this year, one up close to the eaves of my house on the bricks as they were hatching out. The 2nd picture is of them on my tree last year. I could not find anyone to ID them so sadly, I did spray them. The 3rd one is the bugs I collected off the tree after I sprayed them. (Sorry for that but I thought it would be better to err than have destructive bugs around. ) I just need to know what they are and if harmful or helpful. It looks like there are about 100 or so per nest. Hopefully the pictures are useful. If you use a viewer that can zoom in they looked good on my PC. Thanks for your help.
Signature: Dan in Texas

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

Dear Dan,
We hope our response this year prevents a similar carnage to that from last year.  These are beneficial, predatory Wheel Bug hatchlings, and they will help keep your trees and garden free of unwanted insect pests, eliminating the need to use pesticides.  Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs, and most are beneficial, and exception being the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs.  Some other Assassin Bugs are prone to biting humans, and though the bite is painful and may cause local swelling, it is not considered dangerous, again the exception being the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs.  We very rarely get reports of Wheel Bugs biting.  Adult Wheel Bugs are large, somewhat prehistoric looking creatures with a coglike “wheel” on the thorax. 

Wheel Bug Nymph Carnage
Wheel Bug Nymph Carnage

Thank you so much for the information and education.  I have seen a lot of the adult versions of these “armored wonders” around the house but never saw them in their early stages.  I must have found about 8 or 10 of these nests around, some already empty and I assure you now that I know what they are will not do them harm in the future.  I had contacted my agriculture agent about the adults I saw around and he informed me that they were beneficial insects but he could not identify the nest and nymph stages.
Thank you again for all your time and help.

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