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 feed on other insects and can be beneficial in controlling pests in your garden. On the other hand, the kissing bug gets its name from its habit of biting humans around the lips or face while they sleep. Unlike the wheel bug, the kissing bug can transmit a parasitic infection called Chagas disease, which makes it a significant health concern.

As you explore the characteristics of these two insects, you’ll gain a better understanding of their unique habits and be better prepared to identify and handle them in your environment. Stay tuned to learn more about wheel bugs and kissing bugs, and uncover the key factors that set them apart.

Understanding Wheel Bug

Physical Attributes

The wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) is a large insect, measuring around 1.24 inches long with six legs. It can be identified by its light gray to grayish-brown color and a distinctive cog-like crest on its abdomen. This crest, also known as a wheel, has 8-12 teeth or tubercles and is unique to this species in the United States.

Behavior and Habitat

Wheel bugs are part of the Reduviidae family, also known as assassin bugs, and are predatory insects. They can often be found lumbering about on trees and shrubs in search of prey like other insects, making them beneficial to your garden. These bugs are widely distributed across various regions.

Wheel Bug Bite

While wheel bugs play a predatory role in controlling pests, they can deliver a painful bite, which may be more severe than a bee sting. Because of this, it is essential to avoid handling them with bare hands or at least do so with caution.

Predatory Role

As part of the assassin bug family, wheel bugs prey on a variety of insects that may be harmful to your plants. They use their straw-like mouthparts for piercing and sucking the fluids out of their prey. The predatory nature of wheel bugs makes them helpful in regulating harmful insect populations.

Prevention Measures

Although wheel bugs are beneficial insects, you might still want to prevent painful bites from them. To avoid encountering wheel bugs, you can:

  • Keep a safe distance when observing them in your garden
  • Wear gloves if you need to move or handle them
  • Educate others about the differences between wheel bugs and other insects

Following these simple measures will ensure your safety and allow wheel bugs to continue their beneficial biological control role in your garden.

Comprehending Kissing Bug

Appearance and Identification

Kissing bugs are members of the Reduviidae subfamily Triatominae, and they are known for their bites on mammals, including humans. They are typically black with red or orange markings on their abdomen and have an elongated body shape, ranging between 0.75 to 1.2 inches in length. Their most distinguishing features include:

  • Distinctive cone-shaped head
  • Large, black eyes
  • Leathery wings folded flat over the abdomen
  • Sturdy, needle-like mouthparts called the proboscis

Here is an image of Triatoma sanguisuga, a native kissing bug.

Habitual Traits

Kissing bugs are nocturnal insects, most active during the night. They feed by biting mammals, including humans, around the eyes or mouth, which is why they’re called “kissing bugs.” They tend to hide in dark, enclosed spaces such as:

  • Cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Spaces around doors and windows
  • Behind picture frames, or under furniture

The Connection to Chagas Disease

Kissing bugs are vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite that causes Chagas disease, which is endemic in some parts of the world. When kissing bugs bite and defecate on the wound, the parasite might enter the bloodstream via broken skin or mucous membranes, or even through the eyes. Initial symptoms of Chagas disease may include swelling near the bite, known as Romaña’s sign, followed by complications in chronic cases such as:

  • Heart problems
  • Digestive-tract disorders
  • Nervous system disorders

Prevention Strategies

To reduce the risk of bites and potential transmission of Chagas disease, you can adopt the following preventive measures:

  • Seal any gaps and cracks in your home to prevent bug entry
  • Regularly clean and vacuum to remove potential hiding places
  • Use insect-repellent products such as sprays or screens on windows and doors
  • Sleep under bug nets in areas where infestations are common

By understanding kissing bugs’ appearance, behavioral traits, and their connection to Chagas disease, you can better protect yourself and minimize the risk of exposure to these potentially harmful insects.

The Difference Between Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug

Wheel bugs and kissing bugs are both insects, but they have several differences that you should know, especially if you encounter them in your surroundings. Let’s discuss these differences, so you’ll be better equipped to identify them.

Wheel bugs are predators that belong to the family Reduviidae. They hunt other insects with their raptorial front legs, and they have a distinctive cog-like “wheel” on their backs. Their color is usually dull greyish-brown, and they’re about 1-1.25 inches long. Wheel bugs play a beneficial role by preying on insect pests.

On the other hand, kissing bugs are triatomine bugs that feed on the blood of humans and animals. These parasites transmit the parasitic disease Chagas, so it’s essential to be cautious around them. Kissing bugs are mostly black with lateral orange-red stripes on their abdomen and are 0.6-0.9 inches long.

Here’s a comparison table to help you identify the differences:

Feature Wheel Bug Kissing Bug
Classification Reduviidae Triatomine
Color Greyish-Brown Black
Length 1-1.25 inches 0.6-0.9 inches
Feeding Predatory Blood-feeding
Disease Risk None Chagas

Remember, wheel bugs are generally helpful insects as they prey on pests, while kissing bugs can transmit harmful parasites. Being aware of their unique characteristics will make it easier for you to identify these insects and take appropriate actions if necessary.

Wheel Bug Vs Kissing Bug: Which is More Dangerous?

By definition, both wheel bugs and kissing bugs are part of the true bugs family. Wheel bugs are predators belonging to the assassin bug family (Reduviidae). Kissing bugs, on the other hand, are large, dark brown or black true bugs, belonging to the order Hemiptera (University of Arizona). Let’s delve into their dangers to humans.

Bites:

  • Wheel bugs: When they do bite humans, it’s usually accidental, like when they are mishandled or threatened. Bites may cause symptoms like intense pain and swelling, but they do not transmit any disease.
  • Kissing bugs: Bites can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, including hives and swelling at the bite site. The real concern with their bites, however, is the potential transmission of Chagas disease.

Chagas Disease:

Kissing bugs are responsible for the transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite causing Chagas disease. This illness can present serious public health threats resulting in various complications if left untreated.

Symptoms:

  • Acute phase: Signs include skin rash, fever, swollen glands, a bump called chagoma, and swelling around the eyes.
  • Chronic phase: The disease may evolve years later, causing heart and digestive problems in some cases.

Treatment:

Chagas disease requires medical attention, and treatment is most effective in the acute phase. There are no over-the-counter remedies or self-treatment options.

When comparing wheel bugs and kissing bugs, it’s clear that kissing bugs pose a more significant danger to humans due to their potential to transmit Chagas disease, which can lead to severe health complications if not addressed. Wheel bug bites can be painful, but they do not carry any parasites and typically only occur if the bug is mishandled.

Controlling Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug

To control Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug populations, it’s essential to understand the differences between them. Wheel Bugs are beneficial insects preying on other arthropods like caterpillars, moths, and other soft-bodied insects. Kissing Bugs, on the other hand, can spread Chagas disease by feeding on human blood.

Preventative measures:

  • Seal gaps and cracks in your home to prevent entry.
  • Remove any debris or woodpiles near your house that could serve as hiding spots.
  • Keep outdoor lights off when not needed, as these bugs are attracted to light.

Control methods:

  • For Wheel Bugs, you may consider leaving them alone, as they are beneficial insects. But if you must control their population, you can physically remove them using a glove or tweezers to avoid their painful bite.
  • For Kissing Bugs, consider contacting a pest management professional if you suspect an infestation. They are equipped to handle these bugs safely and effectively.

Insecticides:

  • Pyrethroid-based insecticides can be used for controlling Kissing Bug infestations but should be applied by a professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Available resources:

  • Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service provides helpful information on pest control and prevention strategies.
  • Collaborate with a local pest control professional for guidance and services to manage both Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug populations if needed.

Remember, understanding the differences between these two bugs and taking the appropriate preventative and control measures will help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment.

Notable Bugs Similar to Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug

In your exploration of the bug world, you might come across a few similar-looking bugs that can be easily mistaken for wheel bugs or kissing bugs. A brief overview of these is provided below.

  • Leaf-footed bug: These are often found in gardens and can be easily recognized by their leaf-like hind legs. They’re not as beneficial as assassin bugs but aren’t considered significant pests, either.
  • Caterpillars: Though not related to wheel bugs or kissing bugs, some caterpillars may have similar markings or color patterns that can lead to confusion. However, caterpillars eventually turn into moths or butterflies.
  • Assassin bugs: Wheel bugs are a type of assassin bug. These predatory insects are beneficial in controlling many garden pests.
  • Stink bug: Another group of insects under the suborder Heteroptera, these bugs emit a foul odor when threatened.
  • Boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata): Often mistaken for kissing bugs, they have red and black coloration but aren’t harmful to humans or the environment. University of Maryland Extension provides more information on this bug.
  • Squash bug: They belong to the same order as wheel and kissing bugs, but their focus is on plants, specifically feeding on cucurbit plants causing damage.

Here’s a quick comparison table for you to understand the key differences between some of these bugs:

Bug Appearance Role in Nature
Wheel Bug Grayish, with cog-like wheel on thorax Beneficial predator
Kissing Bug Reddish-brown, with stout beak Can transmit disease to humans
Leaf-footed Bug Similar to wheel bug, with leaf-like projections on legs Plant feeder, minor garden pest
Assassin Bug Predatory insects, varied appearance Beneficial predator
Stink Bug Shield-shaped body, variety of colors Some species are agricultural pests
Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata) Red and black stripes Harmless, can be a nuisance
Squash Bug Flat and gray, prefer to target cucurbit plants Plant feeder, potential garden pest

With this knowledge, you can now better tell these bugs apart and understand their roles in nature.

Conclusion

In comparing the wheel bug and the kissing bug, there are some key differences to keep in mind. Both insects belong to the same family, Reduviidae, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Wheel bugs are known for their distinctive cog-like structure on their back, which is not present in kissing bugs. While wheel bugs are primarily beneficial predators, feeding on garden pests, kissing bugs are known to bite humans and animals to consume their blood. This feeding behavior makes kissing bugs potential carriers of the Chagas disease, posing a serious health risk.

Differences between Wheel Bug and Kissing Bug:

Feature Wheel Bug Kissing Bug
Cog-like feature Present Absent
Feeding habits Predators of garden pests Blood feeders on humans/animals
Health risk Generally harmless Carriers of Chagas disease

To sum up, when encountering a wheel bug or a kissing bug, it’s crucial to identify them correctly. Remember, wheel bugs are helpful predators, while kissing bugs may pose a threat to your health. Stay informed and take appropriate precautions when dealing with these insects.

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 – Immature Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: Can you tell me what these are?
Location: North Central Tennessee
May 27, 2012 11:26 am
I have been replacing my folks deck in Tennessee for the past week and have come across 15-20 of these beautiful little bugs. They walk rather slow as they haven’t a care in the world and are rarely alone. However, I’ve never seen more than 3 together. The photo doesn’t show the colors as brilliantly as they were. the smallest was nearly yellow the next largest was bright orange and the largest was brilliant deep red. Only the bigger ones have the stripe of black. They seem to be fairly well armed with what look like some impressive fangs and are hyper aware of being watch. They move under and around things to keep from being seen.
Anything you could tell me about them would be greatly appreciated.
Signature: Much Thanks, Tracey

Wheel Bug Nymphs

Hi Tracey,
These are immature, predatory Wheel Bugs and they might bite if carelessly handled.  The bite may cause local swelling, but it is not considered dangerous, though it is reported to be quite painful.

Letter 2 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

what are these?
We found these making a hive on the side of our Georgia home. Are they some kind of Ants?
Sam

Hi Sam,
Your Wheel Bugs are not making a hive, they are hatching. These are a type of Assassin Bug. They are predators and very good in the garden. When they mature, they will have wings and a cog-like projection on their backs which gives them their common name. Be careful though, they can give a painful bite.

Letter 3 – Molting Wheel Bug

 

BIG Orange Bug!
June 28, 2010
We found this bug on our backyard deck in South Central Kansas on June 28th. It was on the banister, consuming a large spider! What is this thing?!
Curious Kansas Family
Wichita, Kansas

Molting Wheel Bug

Dear Curious Kansas Family,
While it may appear as though you witnessed a predatory act, you actually witnessed the metamorphosis of a Wheel Bug.  The orange coloration of the newly molted adult Wheel Bug, North America’s largest Assassin Bug, will soon darken to a charcoal gray color.

Letter 4 – Wheel Bug

 

THANK YOU!!
Dear Lisa Anne and Daniel,
Thank You so much for helping us solve an insect mystery that has perplexed us the last couple of weeks here at home. When it’s nice outside we open our upstairs bathroom window where our cat likes to hang out. We never noticed that there was about three inches of loose screen until I walked in there one day and saw her poking her arm out to pull in a bug from the windowsill outside. We had been wondering how the heck all those huge beetles found their way indoors! Though we immediately fixed the screen we are still finding dead bugs that Lucy must have brought inside and hidden until she felt like playing with them again. This latest bug was so weird that we couldn’t decide where to start researching. We looked at it with a flashlight and magnifying glass, just to be sure we were seeing right. The bug is dark colored, almost 1 1/2 inches long, has wings, legs that look like they jump, a funny long "nose," and a strange half-circle on its back that had teeth, like on a gear. I decided to try your web site which I visit a couple of times a month when I have time. I say "when I have time" because I usually wind up spending at least an hour looking at the new entries. WOW! Right there on the front page was a picture of Lucy’s bug, the Wheel Bug sent in by Carrie. This is way cool, I’ll have to tell my entire family because I’ve been describing this bug to them over the phone and asking if they’ve ever heard of such a thing. The half-circle of "teeth" on the back really had everyone going! Your web site is a wonderful place to spend time, both fun and educational. I tell people about it frequently, both in real life and in cyberspace. Thank you again! Take care!
Sincerely,
Ralphine Laughman
Hanover, Pennsylvania

Hi Ralphine,
Thank you so much for the wonderful letter. Our own little feline rascal Mathilda also brings critters into the house. In addition to the Gray Bird Grasshoppers which are huge, we find an assortment of lizards, birds and rodents.

Letter 5 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

wheel bug love
John

Hi John,
You didn’t really write a letter, but we want you to know this is our favorite photo all week. Thanks for the contribution.

Letter 6 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bug Love
Hello! I found your website very useful a few weeks ago when I was IDing some moths, and I thought you might enjoy this pic of some wheel bugs I found on my tomato table a few days ago. Thanks for the great site!
Clara

Hi Clara,
As we state on our homepage, it is impossible to answer all our letters. Eventually, after they have sat in the inbox a few days, we must delete. This fills us with guilt, so we open a few hoping for a lost gem. Your photo is one of those lost gems, so we are posting, albeit a few days late. Your mating Wheel Bugs is one of the finest photos of the species we have received.

Letter 7 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Exhibitionist Wheel Bugs
Hi!!
Your site taught me so much this evening! I found these bugs on my sunroom screen in central Indiana. I had never seen either a male or female before, so imagine my surprise to catch both in the act. Please excuse my camera’s blur. They have been in the same spot for at least four hours (the exhaustion!! J). Are wheel bug nymphs very tiny (2 or 3 mm)? I saw a pic of one on your site as well. I may have been enthralled with one a few months ago. I must have watched it clean (?) its little antennae for 20 minutes on my fiancé’s lease property in southern Indiana last spring. Thank you for the great information. By the way, I read about both of you. How in the world did two photography instructors working on an art project (too cool) find time to become bug experts??? Blessings,
Carly

Hi Carly,
We have posted several photos of Wheel Bugs the past few days, but we can’t resist also posting your documentation of the procreative act. To be honest, we don’t really consider ourselves experts just yet, but we have gotten very good at research.

Letter 8 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bug Nymphs
Hello,
Thanks for your site. I was able to identify the mass of "bugs". Here is a photo I took of our bunch of nymphs.
Mark

And a fabulous photo it is Mark!!!

Letter 9 – second Wheel Bug today!!!

 

Wheel Bug
Daniel,
Here is another shot of a wheel bug for your wonderful website. I had never seen one before today, and was only mildly surprised to find that a picture of one had already been posted (how I knew it is a wheel bug). This was spotted on a rock at Harpers Ferry, WV on November 6. A lot of insects were active due to the 70 degree temperature.
Thank you,
Edwin Tullos
Columbia, MD

Hi Edwin,
Your photo is great. Thanks for the submission.

Letter 10 – Metamorphosis of a Wheel Bug

 

PA Bug
Bugman,
What was this ? the orange one appeared to be eating the other one. Assassin bugs? Which is female and male?
Seen Bloomsburg,PA on 8/1/04.
thanks
Rich

Hi Rich,
Your photo is too out of focus to be certain, but it appears that it depicts an adult Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus, on the right, newly emerged from the discarded skin or exoskeleton of the nymph stage on the left. The Wheel Bug will turn gray as its new exoskeleton hardens.

Letter 11 – Wheel Bug

 


I found this bug on an egg plant leaf outside late last night it is approx 1 1/2 in long and 1/2 in thick we put it into a clear container with a small worm/caterpillar and this morning we watched it suck it dry. it looks like a giant stink bug with a snout like a butterfly for sucking and horned back.

(ed. note: The only way we were able to access these images was to rephotograph them from our computer screen, so the quality is poor.
You have a Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus, a member of the Assasin Bug Family Reduviidae. These large true bugs can be recognized by the cog like wheel on their backs. They are friends of gardeners since they eagerly feed on many garden pests, like the caterpillar you put in the jar. Those sucking mouthparts can deliver a painful bite if the bug is carelessly handled.

Letter 12 – Immature Wheel Bug from parts unknown

 

Can you tell me what this is
Can you tell me what this is Overall diameter of insect in pose as shown was very close to if not slightly larger than the diameter of a quarter. It walked almost crab-like, and was very visibly responsive to my movements…i.e. as I moved the camera closer, it backed away and turned to face the incoming camera in a very smooth defensive motion. It looks kind of furry in the pictures, however up-close it had more of a crustacean-like exoskeleton, very hard looking and clean. Feet looked very pointed at first in person, but noticed in the pictures that it has ‘feet’ at the bottom of the legs. Any ideas???
Vince Cannizzaro
Bay Stalker

Hi Vince,
We are relatively certain this is an immature Wheel Bug. Adults have wings and a coglike “wheel” on the thorax. Judging by the size, it will probably metamorphose into a winged adult at the next molt. Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs. They are predators that will also bite painfully if provoked.

Letter 13 – Newly Molted Wheel Bug

 

bright salmon wheelbug
I thought I’d send along this picture of a wheel bug that my parents took about a month ago in Maryland. They said that he had just moulted, and when he came out of his old skin he was a shocking salmon color! When my parents went to check on him an hour later, he was brown again. Amazing. Also, I am absolutely in love with your site.
Julia

Hi Julia,
We are thrilled you enjoy our site. Tell your parents we posted their fabulous photo. Too bad the Wheel Bugs don’t stay that color.

Letter 14 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

what is this insect?
Dear Bugman,
My husband found these strange-looking fellows on one of our trees in the backyard and were perplexed as to what it is. We thought it might be some kind of beetle. We live in North-Western Virginia near the mountains.
Thank you!
-Angela

Hi Angela,
What an awesome image of newly hatched Wheel Bugs. These are a species of predatory Assassin Bug.

Letter 15 – More Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 


Hello,
A friend of mine took this picture of this mystery bug on an apple tree in Altoona, Alabama on 4-16-06. In the picture there seems to be a hive that they are crawling in and out of. I have also seen the bug on a tree across from my house either on a maple tree or an oak tree about a year ago. I live in Albertville, Alabama. On the tree across from my house these bugs were all over it, so many you couldn’t see the bark all you seen was red and black. They were even crawling up and down the curb on the street. We are just curious as to what kind of bug this is. If you can identify the bug it would be interesting to know what kind it is.
Thanks.
Kristi Richards

Hi Kristi,
The pictured insect is a group of newly hatched Wheel Bugs, a type of Assassin Bug. They are predatory and beneficial in the garden where they will rid your plants of many pests. The bug you described on the maple is similarly colored, but is probably a Boxelder Bug.

Letter 16 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Got a bug we cant ID…
Any Ideas?
Ryan & Courtney

Hi Ryan and Courtney,
These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs, a type of Assassin Bug.

Letter 17 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

What in the world is this?
Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 1:35 PM
This bug was found walking around on our back porch. It apparently looks like it was trying to make more too! Thanks for any help you can provide.
TS
Troy, Ohio USA

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi TS,
Wow, what a wonderful image of mating Wheel Bugs. Wheel Bugs are predatory Assassin Bugs and they are quite beneficial in the garden. Interestingly, we got two photos today of mating Wheel Bugs and we will post them both.

Neither pair of wheel bugs is mating, just coupled.  Mating means they would by coupled, the male off to the side, not directly on top.
Eric Eaton

Letter 18 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

some kind of beatle?
Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 3:12 PM
found these two having a romantic evening as the sun set on Oct 12, 2008.
very prehistoric looking. thank you,
Genesis
South St. Louis area of Missouri USA

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Genesis,
Prehistoric is a word that we often hear in conjunction with Wheel Bugs. Your mating Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs, not beetles.

Neither pair of wheel bugs is mating, just coupled.  Mating means they would by coupled, the male off to the side, not directly on top.
Eric Eaton

Letter 19 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Colorful orange bug found in Tennessee
Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 9:12 AM
Hi there. I just found your fantastic website. I love it! I dug out this old photo of a bug I saw when walking on a mountain Trail in Tennessee one summer several years back. This bug was about an inch and a half long, moved very slowly and so bright orange that I could not miss it. What do you think?
MB, Butler, PA
Tennessee Mountains

Freshly Molted Wheel Bug
Freshly Molted Wheel Bug

Hi MB,
We are certain that this is an Assassin Bug, and are nearly certain that it is a newly metamorphosed Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus.  When Wheel Bugs first metamorphose into adults, they are orange, but as the exoskeleton hardens, it darkens to dark gray or black.  We found a matching image on BugGuide to support our identification.

Letter 20 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bugs mating
September 10, 2009
Just found these and searched for over an hour to find out what they are! I’m happy to say they’re beneficial in my yard, and thankfully I’m not a bug killer in the 1st place unless necessary. Would you like to add the photos to your collection? My 5 year old son is fascinated by them. Thanks for a great web site, its our go to for our bug questions.
Cara Bauer
St. Louis, Missouri

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Cara,
We love the interesting angles on your photos of mating Wheel Bugs.

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Letter 21 – Molting Wheel Bug

 

Orange masterpiece
June 8, 2010
I found this bug eating the spider on my outdoor screen. After it was done eating its prey, it turned back to brown.
Dana M
South Carolina

Wheel Bug Molting

Hi Dana,
We really like your subject line, because this Wheel Bug really is an orange masterpiece.  Your observation is not accurate.  The Wheel Bug has not just eaten a spider.  The Wheel Bug has molted and the cast off skin or exuvia is what you have mistaken for prey.  The coloration of the newly molted Wheel Bug darkened as the exoskeleton hardened.

Letter 22 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Mating Wheel Bugs
June 11, 2010
Hello Bugman,
I know what these are, but I thought you’d like to add these photos to your Bug Love page. The happy couple were outside the door to my apartment, not shy about who was watching!
Sam ~ a big fan, and a friend to bugs
Junction City, KS

Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Sam,
Thank you so much for sending us your wonderfully detailed images of mating Wheel Bugs, the largest North American Assassin Bugs.

Letter 23 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Mating insects
Location:  Fannin County Texas
October 4, 2010 10:20 pm
Found these mating bugs on my gazebo.
They were fascinating, having a dorsal spiny shield reminding me of the stegosaurus dinosaurs. I haven’t seen them before. Size of the female is 4cm by estimate. What are they?
Signature:  Pacman in Texas

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Pacman,
You are not the first person who has written to us comparing the crest on the Wheel Bug,
Arilus cristatus, to the protective plates on a stegosaurus.  Your documentation of the mating process of North America’s largest Assassin Bug will be archived in our Bug Love section.  Wheel Bugs, like other Assassin Bugs, are predators and they should be welcomed into any organic garden, but gardener beware, because if they are carelessly handled, they are capable of biting with their piercing mouthparts.  After mating, the female will produce a cluster of barrel shaped eggs that will hatch into red and black numphs in the spring.  We have numerous images of freshly hatched Wheel Bugs on our site, but only a few of the mating process.

Mating Wheel Bugs

Letter 24 – Mating Cog-Wheel Bugs from Costa Rica

 

Wheel Bugs!
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
November 9, 2010 3:58 pm
Hello!
I have been meaning to share this picture with you for awhile but never got around to it. When I browsed through today and saw that the bug of the month is the wheel bug, I took it as a sign. I snapped this picture in the transistion forest at the base of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. This was taken 3 years ago in 2007. I don’t know if this qualifies as bug love but that’s what it looks like to me. You run a really fantastic site. Thanks for your efforts!
Signature: Maria

Cog-Wheel Bugs mating in Costa Rica

Dear Maria,
Thank you for your kind words.  We are very excited to post your photograph and we wonder what other gems you may be withholding from us.  While it is obvious that this amorous pair is related to the North American Wheel Bug, the coloration is also quite distinctive, most notable the red coloration at the base of the coglike projection of the thorax.  The orange wings are also not typical of the North American Wheel Bug.  We decided to do a web search of the genus name
Arilus and Costa Rica and we found a google book entitled Latin American Insects and Entomology by the amazing Charles Leonard Hogue.  On page 223 is a line drawing of the Cog-Wheel Bug, Arilus carinatus, though there is no mention of the coloration.  We found some additional photographs online of the species on the Flickriver website, but again, the coloration on your specimens is different.  While we can rest assured that your mating pair is a close relative in the genus Arilus of the North American Wheel Bug, we cannot be certain of the Costa Rican species.

Letter 25 – Mating Wheel Bugs plan for next year

 

Wheel bugs
Location: Hiawassee,GA
September 3, 2011 7:30 pm
Interesting thing happened today. I opened the front door and found these two wheel bugs…in a bit of a compromising position, but I didn’t know what they were until I uploaded the pictures to my computer and saw the wheel on their backs. Truth is, I would not have known what they were at all if it wasn’t for your website.So thank you, because, although I would still freak out if a bug landed on me(I am working really hard on my phobia by trying to educate myself) when I see them now I am more intrigued than scared.
Signature: Recovering bugaphobe

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Recovering bugaphobe,
We want to better educate you about Wheel Bugs, members of the Assassin Bug family Reduvidae.  Assassin Bugs are predators, and Wheel Bugs prey upon mainly insects.  They have mouths that were designed for piercing and sucking.  They do not want to suck your blood, though their relatives, the Blood Sucking Conenoses, do feed on blood.  Wheel Bugs prey upon insects in the garden, though they will most likely bite, and the bite will be painful, if they are carelessly handled by humans.  We have a huge archive of Bug Love images of insects and other things that crawl mating.  After mating, she will lay clusters of hexagonal eggs that will hatch in the spring into red and black colonies of insects that resemble spiders, superficially.

Letter 26 – Three Wheel Bugs Mating

 

Rarest looking bug I’ve seen
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 23, 2011 12:18 am
PLEASE help me identify this crazy looking bug. I have asked a lot of people and noone has ever seen it before we would all like to know what it is.
Signature: Britt

Trio of Wheel Bugs Mating

Hi Britt,
We aren’t sure if one or both of the male Wheel Bugswill seal the deal with this female, and we don’t believe trios are the norm for mating activity.

Three Wheel Bugs Mate

Letter 27 – Seasonal November Occurrance: Wheel Bug found in Cereal Box!!!

 

Weird Bug in cereal box!
Location: Lynchburg, VA
November 8, 2011 6:32 pm
Just curious what kind of bug this is. It was inside a cereal box that was previously opened but closed back up and the bag of cereal folded down. The pictures were taken by me, Nov 8, 2011. It seemed harmless, but reminded me of a preying mantis in its mannerisms. Strangely aware of its surroundings and moving very slowly.
Signature: R.E.B.

Wheel Bug

Dear R.E.B.,
We contemplated sending you a quick response this morning, but our lead writer decided it was more important to comb his hair and catch the train to work so as not to be late, hence, we waited until the leisurely evening hours to respond.  This beautiful predator is a Wheel Bug.  You were astute to notice the similarities to a Preying Mantis in the raptorial forelegs of this species of Assassin Bug.  We are a bit dumbfounded as to why an adult Wheel Bug would wander into a box of cereal, but we feel it was a random landing.  Generally, when people find insects in cereal, they are culprits like Indian Meal Moths, Spider Beetles or Larder Beetles.  Wheel Bugs can fly.  Do not let their lethargic movements fool you as they belie the quick grab and piercing bite of a formidable predator.  The name Wheel Bug refers to the signature cog on the thorax which we believe deters predators from swallowing adult Wheel Bugs.  There is a reason we made the Wheel Bug the Bug of the Month for November 2010, and that is because adult Wheel Bugs are a seasonal occurrence.

Letter 28 – Portrait of a Wheel Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Bug Identification
Location: Central Virginia
June 2, 2012 9:23 pm
Hi — I’d be interested to learn what sort of bug this is. Found in my garage and looked very interesting so I took some portraits.
Signature: kss_cville

Wheel Bug Nymph

Dear kss_cville,
This is surely a stunning portrait of a Wheel Bug nymph.  The proboscis is clearly visible.  Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs, a family of predators that uses the proboscis to pierce the prey and then suck fluids.  Wheel Bugs are capable of biting a careless human who does not use good judgement when trying to handle them.  Adult Wheel Bugs are named for the coglike structure on the thoracic region.  We will be postdating your identification request to go live later in the month while we are on holiday.

Dear Daniel,
I’m glad you liked the portrait and thank you very much for the quick identification of the Wheel Bug nymph.  I don’t think I have ever noticed one in that stage before.  Interesting mannerisms and movements — mostly I think it was trying to decide if it could make a summer long meal of me.
Best Regards,
Kevin

Letter 29 – Newly Molted Wheel Bug Nymph

 

Subject: 7578533571
Location: Madison Heights, VA
February 22, 2013 3:38 pm
what the heck is this frightening thing?
Signature: Janice Lawson

Wheel Bug nymph
Wheel Bug nymph

Hi Janice,
This is an immature Wheel Bug and it appears to have recently molted.  Adult Wheel Bugs are winged and have a distinctive coglike crest on the thorax.

Letter 30 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: bug
Location: maryland
May 18, 2013 7:37 pm
This Bug Is Black With A Red Butt, 6Legs, Its Antennas Looked Orange On The Tips No Wings Though. I’m Located In Westminster Maryland. I Found The Eggs UnderneatH My Porch Railing.
Signature: please help

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs.  They will soon disperse and lead a solitary life, growing into winged adult Wheel Bugs, a species of Assassin Bug with a distinctive crest.

Letter 31 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Red insect grasshopper sized
Location: Virginia
July 17, 2013 5:44 pm
We have never seen it around here before. Was on our box woods. Horn thing extending from head. About the size of a grasshopper. One hour later it changed color. From bright red to grey-brown-red.
Signature: Caroline

Wheel Bug Metamorphosis
Wheel Bug Metamorphosis

Hi Caroline,
This is a newly metamorphosed Wheel Bug, a species of Assassin Bug.  You can see its exuvia or cast off exoskeleton to the left.  The Wheel Bug will eventually darken to a dark gray when its exoskeleton hardens.

Letter 32 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: Mating wheel bugs
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
September 22, 2013 1:30 pm
We’ve seen quite a few of these bugs lately.
Signature: Brandi

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Brandi,
Thanks for sending us your photo of mating Wheel Bugs.  We never tire of posting new images of Bug Love and our readers seem to enjoy seeing them.

Letter 33 – Prehistoric Bug is Wheel Bug

 

Wheel Bug
Wheel Bug

Subject: Dinosaur like bug
Location: Columbus, Ohio
October 13, 2014 3:26 pm
This guy showed up around 5 pm on October 13 in Columbus, Ohio. It was tracking the camera and waving it’s legs at it. It was about 2″ long.
Signature: Lena

Dear Lena,
Whenever we get a subject line like yours, we immediately suspect the creature is a Wheel Bug and we are usually correct.

Letter 34 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Orange and Yellow Bug
Location: Georgia
July 2, 2015 7:31 am
Can you help us figure out what kind of bug this is? Never seen one like it before.
Signature: Thesouphead

Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug
Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

Dear Thesouphead,
This is a Wheel Bug, the largest North American Assassin Bug, but what makes your image so interesting is the coloration.  Wheel Bugs are a dark gray, but just after metamorphosis, before the exoskeleton has a chance to harden, the color is much lighter.  Your Wheel Bug has just undergone metamorphosis from a nymph to a winged adult.

Letter 35 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Carmel, Indiana
September 25, 2015 2:37 pm
I was outside walking with my kids today and found a bug I have never seen before. It followed us when I walked around it to try and get a better look. I don’t like bugs and it looked like it had wings so I didn’t get too close. From the picture it looks like it has 6 legs on one side. I live in Carmel, IN and am used to bugs, but not like this! Any idea what it is? Thanks for any information you may have!
Signature: Stephanie

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Stephanie,
If you look closely at your image, you will see that this is actually a mating pair of Wheel Bugs and not an individual, hence your observation that there are six legs on one side.  Wheel Bugs are capable of biting, but they move lethargically and they are not aggressive toward humans.

Letter 36 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Please help
Location: Carrollton, TX 75010
January 27, 2017 9:06 am
I managed to take a picture of this bug that scared the living hell out of me a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to ID it ever since.
Signature: Joseph

Wheel Bug

Dear Joseph,
Predatory Wheel Bugs are not aggressive towards humans, but we would not want to eliminate the possibility that a bite might occur if a Wheel Bug is carelessly handled.

Letter 37 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: What am I?
Location: South Jersey (August 2017)
August 24, 2017 9:29 am
Found this lounging on my picnic table. Looks like it’s giving a piggyback ride to another.
Signature: Jennifer Pierce

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Jennifer,
These are mating Wheel Bugs, the largest predatory Assassin Bugs in North America.  The angle of your image does not highlight the coglike protrusion on the thorax of adult Wheel Bugs.

Letter 38 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  New Bug to Me
Geographic location of the bug:  Powhatan, VA 23139
Date: 09/04/2017
Time: 05:39 PM EDT
Can you tell me what kind of bug this odd?
How you want your letter signed:  Terry Kefalas

Wheel Bug

Dear Terry,
This is one of the best images we have received of a Wheel Bug in a long time.

Letter 39 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Unusual creature in pennsylvania
Geographic location of the bug:  Berks county, pa
Date: 10/09/2017
Time: 05:10 PM EDT
I am curious add to what this odd bug is. Is it invasive?
How you want your letter signed:  DW

Wheel Bug

Dear DW,
This is a native predatory Wheel Bug.

Letter 40 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Stegosaurus roach
Geographic location of the bug:  Western North Carolina (Weaverville)
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 09:03 PM EDT
This bug has been on the side of our house for several hours now… never seen anything like it. It has a razor back fin thing like a dinosaur.
How you want your letter signed:  Scooley

Wheel Bug

Dear Scooley,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug, and you are not the first person writing to us comparing a Wheel Bug to a Stegosaurus.

Letter 41 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What kind of insect is this???
Geographic location of the bug:  Jacksonville Florida
Date: 11/24/2017
Time: 11:43 AM EDT
We have seen a few of these bugs in our yard mainly on the house like this one in the photo but this is the largest one we’ve seen so far. We’re just very curious to know what they are! Thanks for any info!
How you want your letter signed:  April Crawford

Wheel Bug

Dear April,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug, a common species in the eastern portions of North America.  Though not aggressive toward humans, like other Assassin Bugs, they might bite if carelessly handled or if they feel threatened.

Letter 42 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern NC
Date: 07/06/2018
Time: 11:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My friend saw this while tending her plants.  Wanted to know if anyone knew what it was.  Do you?
How you want your letter signed:  Keith Driscoll

Wheel Bug

Dear Keith,
This Wheel Bug is a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug.

Letter 43 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Giant Alien Bug of Texas
Geographic location of the bug:  Sugar Land, TX (Near Houston)
Date: 07/06/2018
Time: 02:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Sir,
Can you tell me what kind of bug this is and a brief synopsis about it?
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Joy Z

Wheel Bug

Dear Joy Z,
This is a beneficial, predatory Wheel Bug,
Arilus cristatus, the largest of the North American Assassin Bugs.  Though beneficial, like other Assassin Bugs, a Wheel Bug might bite if carelessly handled, but they are not aggressive.  We get so many identification requests for Wheel Bugs, the species has been selected our Bug of the Month three times, in November 2008, November 2010 and for Halloween in 2014

It’s one scary looking thing, THAT is for SURE!  Thank you!

This is our favorite image of a Wheel Bug ever.

That’s enough to keep me up at night (hahaha)

Letter 44 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Pennsylvania
Date: 08/07/2018
Time: 04:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Wondering in the world this thing is and where they come from?!
How you want your letter signed:  Misty

Wheel Bug

Dear Misty,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug.  It is not an aggressive nor a dangerous species, but it might bite if carelessly handled.  Wheel Bugs are a beneficial species known to prey on Japanese Beetles, which should endear them to to all gardeners in eastern North America.

Letter 45 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Unknown Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern NC
Date: 09/18/2018
Time: 09:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I live in Eastern NC about an hour from the coast. saw this bug on my horse fence after Hurricane Flo blew through. Any idea?
How you want your letter signed:  AH

Wheel Bug

Dear AH,
While weather events like Hurricane Florence have been known to blow exotic insects to distant lands, potentially increasing their range, this Wheel Bug is a native species for you.

Letter 46 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject:  Mating Wheel Bugs
Geographic location of the bug:  Pegram, TN
Date: 09/29/2018
Time: 05:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Taken w/ my iPhone. Found these two hanging upside down on my outdoor garbage can and was struck by the saw-tooth crescent thingy on their back. “What IS that??” A Google search took me to whatsthatbug, where I found the answer in Top 10 and learned about Assassin Bugs. Thanks, bug man!!
If you zoom in slightly, you can see the slender sex organ extending from the male’s abdomen towards her backside. Is this the aedeagus?Never saw one before.
Staying in zoom, it honestly looks as if his back left leg is pushing her wing slightly open for contact. And I’m probably imagining things now, after reading ‘How Insects Mate’ on thoughtco.com, but it looks like he’s tickling her with his two front left legs.
“One-third of insect species studied by scientists show….a decent effort on the male’s part to make sure the female is pleased with the sexual encounter.”
Well done, sir!!!
How you want your letter signed:  Anita Cold-Shower

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Anita Cold-Shower,
Your image of mating Wheel Bugs is awesome, and thanks to your careful research, we can add aedeagus to our insect vocabulary word list.  Aedeagus is defined on BugGuide as being:  “the intromittent organ of a male insect with its appendages” and according to Wikipedia:  “An intromittent organ is a general term for an external organ of a male organism that is specialized to deliver sperm during copulation.”

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 – Immature Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: Can you tell me what these are?
Location: North Central Tennessee
May 27, 2012 11:26 am
I have been replacing my folks deck in Tennessee for the past week and have come across 15-20 of these beautiful little bugs. They walk rather slow as they haven’t a care in the world and are rarely alone. However, I’ve never seen more than 3 together. The photo doesn’t show the colors as brilliantly as they were. the smallest was nearly yellow the next largest was bright orange and the largest was brilliant deep red. Only the bigger ones have the stripe of black. They seem to be fairly well armed with what look like some impressive fangs and are hyper aware of being watch. They move under and around things to keep from being seen.
Anything you could tell me about them would be greatly appreciated.
Signature: Much Thanks, Tracey

Wheel Bug Nymphs

Hi Tracey,
These are immature, predatory Wheel Bugs and they might bite if carelessly handled.  The bite may cause local swelling, but it is not considered dangerous, though it is reported to be quite painful.

Letter 2 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

what are these?
We found these making a hive on the side of our Georgia home. Are they some kind of Ants?
Sam

Hi Sam,
Your Wheel Bugs are not making a hive, they are hatching. These are a type of Assassin Bug. They are predators and very good in the garden. When they mature, they will have wings and a cog-like projection on their backs which gives them their common name. Be careful though, they can give a painful bite.

Letter 3 – Molting Wheel Bug

 

BIG Orange Bug!
June 28, 2010
We found this bug on our backyard deck in South Central Kansas on June 28th. It was on the banister, consuming a large spider! What is this thing?!
Curious Kansas Family
Wichita, Kansas

Molting Wheel Bug

Dear Curious Kansas Family,
While it may appear as though you witnessed a predatory act, you actually witnessed the metamorphosis of a Wheel Bug.  The orange coloration of the newly molted adult Wheel Bug, North America’s largest Assassin Bug, will soon darken to a charcoal gray color.

Letter 4 – Wheel Bug

 

THANK YOU!!
Dear Lisa Anne and Daniel,
Thank You so much for helping us solve an insect mystery that has perplexed us the last couple of weeks here at home. When it’s nice outside we open our upstairs bathroom window where our cat likes to hang out. We never noticed that there was about three inches of loose screen until I walked in there one day and saw her poking her arm out to pull in a bug from the windowsill outside. We had been wondering how the heck all those huge beetles found their way indoors! Though we immediately fixed the screen we are still finding dead bugs that Lucy must have brought inside and hidden until she felt like playing with them again. This latest bug was so weird that we couldn’t decide where to start researching. We looked at it with a flashlight and magnifying glass, just to be sure we were seeing right. The bug is dark colored, almost 1 1/2 inches long, has wings, legs that look like they jump, a funny long "nose," and a strange half-circle on its back that had teeth, like on a gear. I decided to try your web site which I visit a couple of times a month when I have time. I say "when I have time" because I usually wind up spending at least an hour looking at the new entries. WOW! Right there on the front page was a picture of Lucy’s bug, the Wheel Bug sent in by Carrie. This is way cool, I’ll have to tell my entire family because I’ve been describing this bug to them over the phone and asking if they’ve ever heard of such a thing. The half-circle of "teeth" on the back really had everyone going! Your web site is a wonderful place to spend time, both fun and educational. I tell people about it frequently, both in real life and in cyberspace. Thank you again! Take care!
Sincerely,
Ralphine Laughman
Hanover, Pennsylvania

Hi Ralphine,
Thank you so much for the wonderful letter. Our own little feline rascal Mathilda also brings critters into the house. In addition to the Gray Bird Grasshoppers which are huge, we find an assortment of lizards, birds and rodents.

Letter 5 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

wheel bug love
John

Hi John,
You didn’t really write a letter, but we want you to know this is our favorite photo all week. Thanks for the contribution.

Letter 6 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bug Love
Hello! I found your website very useful a few weeks ago when I was IDing some moths, and I thought you might enjoy this pic of some wheel bugs I found on my tomato table a few days ago. Thanks for the great site!
Clara

Hi Clara,
As we state on our homepage, it is impossible to answer all our letters. Eventually, after they have sat in the inbox a few days, we must delete. This fills us with guilt, so we open a few hoping for a lost gem. Your photo is one of those lost gems, so we are posting, albeit a few days late. Your mating Wheel Bugs is one of the finest photos of the species we have received.

Letter 7 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Exhibitionist Wheel Bugs
Hi!!
Your site taught me so much this evening! I found these bugs on my sunroom screen in central Indiana. I had never seen either a male or female before, so imagine my surprise to catch both in the act. Please excuse my camera’s blur. They have been in the same spot for at least four hours (the exhaustion!! J). Are wheel bug nymphs very tiny (2 or 3 mm)? I saw a pic of one on your site as well. I may have been enthralled with one a few months ago. I must have watched it clean (?) its little antennae for 20 minutes on my fiancé’s lease property in southern Indiana last spring. Thank you for the great information. By the way, I read about both of you. How in the world did two photography instructors working on an art project (too cool) find time to become bug experts??? Blessings,
Carly

Hi Carly,
We have posted several photos of Wheel Bugs the past few days, but we can’t resist also posting your documentation of the procreative act. To be honest, we don’t really consider ourselves experts just yet, but we have gotten very good at research.

Letter 8 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bug Nymphs
Hello,
Thanks for your site. I was able to identify the mass of "bugs". Here is a photo I took of our bunch of nymphs.
Mark

And a fabulous photo it is Mark!!!

Letter 9 – second Wheel Bug today!!!

 

Wheel Bug
Daniel,
Here is another shot of a wheel bug for your wonderful website. I had never seen one before today, and was only mildly surprised to find that a picture of one had already been posted (how I knew it is a wheel bug). This was spotted on a rock at Harpers Ferry, WV on November 6. A lot of insects were active due to the 70 degree temperature.
Thank you,
Edwin Tullos
Columbia, MD

Hi Edwin,
Your photo is great. Thanks for the submission.

Letter 10 – Metamorphosis of a Wheel Bug

 

PA Bug
Bugman,
What was this ? the orange one appeared to be eating the other one. Assassin bugs? Which is female and male?
Seen Bloomsburg,PA on 8/1/04.
thanks
Rich

Hi Rich,
Your photo is too out of focus to be certain, but it appears that it depicts an adult Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus, on the right, newly emerged from the discarded skin or exoskeleton of the nymph stage on the left. The Wheel Bug will turn gray as its new exoskeleton hardens.

Letter 11 – Wheel Bug

 


I found this bug on an egg plant leaf outside late last night it is approx 1 1/2 in long and 1/2 in thick we put it into a clear container with a small worm/caterpillar and this morning we watched it suck it dry. it looks like a giant stink bug with a snout like a butterfly for sucking and horned back.

(ed. note: The only way we were able to access these images was to rephotograph them from our computer screen, so the quality is poor.
You have a Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus, a member of the Assasin Bug Family Reduviidae. These large true bugs can be recognized by the cog like wheel on their backs. They are friends of gardeners since they eagerly feed on many garden pests, like the caterpillar you put in the jar. Those sucking mouthparts can deliver a painful bite if the bug is carelessly handled.

Letter 12 – Immature Wheel Bug from parts unknown

 

Can you tell me what this is
Can you tell me what this is Overall diameter of insect in pose as shown was very close to if not slightly larger than the diameter of a quarter. It walked almost crab-like, and was very visibly responsive to my movements…i.e. as I moved the camera closer, it backed away and turned to face the incoming camera in a very smooth defensive motion. It looks kind of furry in the pictures, however up-close it had more of a crustacean-like exoskeleton, very hard looking and clean. Feet looked very pointed at first in person, but noticed in the pictures that it has ‘feet’ at the bottom of the legs. Any ideas???
Vince Cannizzaro
Bay Stalker

Hi Vince,
We are relatively certain this is an immature Wheel Bug. Adults have wings and a coglike “wheel” on the thorax. Judging by the size, it will probably metamorphose into a winged adult at the next molt. Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs. They are predators that will also bite painfully if provoked.

Letter 13 – Newly Molted Wheel Bug

 

bright salmon wheelbug
I thought I’d send along this picture of a wheel bug that my parents took about a month ago in Maryland. They said that he had just moulted, and when he came out of his old skin he was a shocking salmon color! When my parents went to check on him an hour later, he was brown again. Amazing. Also, I am absolutely in love with your site.
Julia

Hi Julia,
We are thrilled you enjoy our site. Tell your parents we posted their fabulous photo. Too bad the Wheel Bugs don’t stay that color.

Letter 14 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

what is this insect?
Dear Bugman,
My husband found these strange-looking fellows on one of our trees in the backyard and were perplexed as to what it is. We thought it might be some kind of beetle. We live in North-Western Virginia near the mountains.
Thank you!
-Angela

Hi Angela,
What an awesome image of newly hatched Wheel Bugs. These are a species of predatory Assassin Bug.

Letter 15 – More Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 


Hello,
A friend of mine took this picture of this mystery bug on an apple tree in Altoona, Alabama on 4-16-06. In the picture there seems to be a hive that they are crawling in and out of. I have also seen the bug on a tree across from my house either on a maple tree or an oak tree about a year ago. I live in Albertville, Alabama. On the tree across from my house these bugs were all over it, so many you couldn’t see the bark all you seen was red and black. They were even crawling up and down the curb on the street. We are just curious as to what kind of bug this is. If you can identify the bug it would be interesting to know what kind it is.
Thanks.
Kristi Richards

Hi Kristi,
The pictured insect is a group of newly hatched Wheel Bugs, a type of Assassin Bug. They are predatory and beneficial in the garden where they will rid your plants of many pests. The bug you described on the maple is similarly colored, but is probably a Boxelder Bug.

Letter 16 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Got a bug we cant ID…
Any Ideas?
Ryan & Courtney

Hi Ryan and Courtney,
These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs, a type of Assassin Bug.

Letter 17 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

What in the world is this?
Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 1:35 PM
This bug was found walking around on our back porch. It apparently looks like it was trying to make more too! Thanks for any help you can provide.
TS
Troy, Ohio USA

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi TS,
Wow, what a wonderful image of mating Wheel Bugs. Wheel Bugs are predatory Assassin Bugs and they are quite beneficial in the garden. Interestingly, we got two photos today of mating Wheel Bugs and we will post them both.

Neither pair of wheel bugs is mating, just coupled.  Mating means they would by coupled, the male off to the side, not directly on top.
Eric Eaton

Letter 18 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

some kind of beatle?
Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 3:12 PM
found these two having a romantic evening as the sun set on Oct 12, 2008.
very prehistoric looking. thank you,
Genesis
South St. Louis area of Missouri USA

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Genesis,
Prehistoric is a word that we often hear in conjunction with Wheel Bugs. Your mating Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs, not beetles.

Neither pair of wheel bugs is mating, just coupled.  Mating means they would by coupled, the male off to the side, not directly on top.
Eric Eaton

Letter 19 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Colorful orange bug found in Tennessee
Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 9:12 AM
Hi there. I just found your fantastic website. I love it! I dug out this old photo of a bug I saw when walking on a mountain Trail in Tennessee one summer several years back. This bug was about an inch and a half long, moved very slowly and so bright orange that I could not miss it. What do you think?
MB, Butler, PA
Tennessee Mountains

Freshly Molted Wheel Bug
Freshly Molted Wheel Bug

Hi MB,
We are certain that this is an Assassin Bug, and are nearly certain that it is a newly metamorphosed Wheel Bug, Arilus cristatus.  When Wheel Bugs first metamorphose into adults, they are orange, but as the exoskeleton hardens, it darkens to dark gray or black.  We found a matching image on BugGuide to support our identification.

Letter 20 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Wheel Bugs mating
September 10, 2009
Just found these and searched for over an hour to find out what they are! I’m happy to say they’re beneficial in my yard, and thankfully I’m not a bug killer in the 1st place unless necessary. Would you like to add the photos to your collection? My 5 year old son is fascinated by them. Thanks for a great web site, its our go to for our bug questions.
Cara Bauer
St. Louis, Missouri

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Cara,
We love the interesting angles on your photos of mating Wheel Bugs.

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Letter 21 – Molting Wheel Bug

 

Orange masterpiece
June 8, 2010
I found this bug eating the spider on my outdoor screen. After it was done eating its prey, it turned back to brown.
Dana M
South Carolina

Wheel Bug Molting

Hi Dana,
We really like your subject line, because this Wheel Bug really is an orange masterpiece.  Your observation is not accurate.  The Wheel Bug has not just eaten a spider.  The Wheel Bug has molted and the cast off skin or exuvia is what you have mistaken for prey.  The coloration of the newly molted Wheel Bug darkened as the exoskeleton hardened.

Letter 22 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Mating Wheel Bugs
June 11, 2010
Hello Bugman,
I know what these are, but I thought you’d like to add these photos to your Bug Love page. The happy couple were outside the door to my apartment, not shy about who was watching!
Sam ~ a big fan, and a friend to bugs
Junction City, KS

Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Sam,
Thank you so much for sending us your wonderfully detailed images of mating Wheel Bugs, the largest North American Assassin Bugs.

Letter 23 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Mating insects
Location:  Fannin County Texas
October 4, 2010 10:20 pm
Found these mating bugs on my gazebo.
They were fascinating, having a dorsal spiny shield reminding me of the stegosaurus dinosaurs. I haven’t seen them before. Size of the female is 4cm by estimate. What are they?
Signature:  Pacman in Texas

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Pacman,
You are not the first person who has written to us comparing the crest on the Wheel Bug,
Arilus cristatus, to the protective plates on a stegosaurus.  Your documentation of the mating process of North America’s largest Assassin Bug will be archived in our Bug Love section.  Wheel Bugs, like other Assassin Bugs, are predators and they should be welcomed into any organic garden, but gardener beware, because if they are carelessly handled, they are capable of biting with their piercing mouthparts.  After mating, the female will produce a cluster of barrel shaped eggs that will hatch into red and black numphs in the spring.  We have numerous images of freshly hatched Wheel Bugs on our site, but only a few of the mating process.

Mating Wheel Bugs

Letter 24 – Mating Cog-Wheel Bugs from Costa Rica

 

Wheel Bugs!
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
November 9, 2010 3:58 pm
Hello!
I have been meaning to share this picture with you for awhile but never got around to it. When I browsed through today and saw that the bug of the month is the wheel bug, I took it as a sign. I snapped this picture in the transistion forest at the base of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. This was taken 3 years ago in 2007. I don’t know if this qualifies as bug love but that’s what it looks like to me. You run a really fantastic site. Thanks for your efforts!
Signature: Maria

Cog-Wheel Bugs mating in Costa Rica

Dear Maria,
Thank you for your kind words.  We are very excited to post your photograph and we wonder what other gems you may be withholding from us.  While it is obvious that this amorous pair is related to the North American Wheel Bug, the coloration is also quite distinctive, most notable the red coloration at the base of the coglike projection of the thorax.  The orange wings are also not typical of the North American Wheel Bug.  We decided to do a web search of the genus name
Arilus and Costa Rica and we found a google book entitled Latin American Insects and Entomology by the amazing Charles Leonard Hogue.  On page 223 is a line drawing of the Cog-Wheel Bug, Arilus carinatus, though there is no mention of the coloration.  We found some additional photographs online of the species on the Flickriver website, but again, the coloration on your specimens is different.  While we can rest assured that your mating pair is a close relative in the genus Arilus of the North American Wheel Bug, we cannot be certain of the Costa Rican species.

Letter 25 – Mating Wheel Bugs plan for next year

 

Wheel bugs
Location: Hiawassee,GA
September 3, 2011 7:30 pm
Interesting thing happened today. I opened the front door and found these two wheel bugs…in a bit of a compromising position, but I didn’t know what they were until I uploaded the pictures to my computer and saw the wheel on their backs. Truth is, I would not have known what they were at all if it wasn’t for your website.So thank you, because, although I would still freak out if a bug landed on me(I am working really hard on my phobia by trying to educate myself) when I see them now I am more intrigued than scared.
Signature: Recovering bugaphobe

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Recovering bugaphobe,
We want to better educate you about Wheel Bugs, members of the Assassin Bug family Reduvidae.  Assassin Bugs are predators, and Wheel Bugs prey upon mainly insects.  They have mouths that were designed for piercing and sucking.  They do not want to suck your blood, though their relatives, the Blood Sucking Conenoses, do feed on blood.  Wheel Bugs prey upon insects in the garden, though they will most likely bite, and the bite will be painful, if they are carelessly handled by humans.  We have a huge archive of Bug Love images of insects and other things that crawl mating.  After mating, she will lay clusters of hexagonal eggs that will hatch in the spring into red and black colonies of insects that resemble spiders, superficially.

Letter 26 – Three Wheel Bugs Mating

 

Rarest looking bug I’ve seen
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 23, 2011 12:18 am
PLEASE help me identify this crazy looking bug. I have asked a lot of people and noone has ever seen it before we would all like to know what it is.
Signature: Britt

Trio of Wheel Bugs Mating

Hi Britt,
We aren’t sure if one or both of the male Wheel Bugswill seal the deal with this female, and we don’t believe trios are the norm for mating activity.

Three Wheel Bugs Mate

Letter 27 – Seasonal November Occurrance: Wheel Bug found in Cereal Box!!!

 

Weird Bug in cereal box!
Location: Lynchburg, VA
November 8, 2011 6:32 pm
Just curious what kind of bug this is. It was inside a cereal box that was previously opened but closed back up and the bag of cereal folded down. The pictures were taken by me, Nov 8, 2011. It seemed harmless, but reminded me of a preying mantis in its mannerisms. Strangely aware of its surroundings and moving very slowly.
Signature: R.E.B.

Wheel Bug

Dear R.E.B.,
We contemplated sending you a quick response this morning, but our lead writer decided it was more important to comb his hair and catch the train to work so as not to be late, hence, we waited until the leisurely evening hours to respond.  This beautiful predator is a Wheel Bug.  You were astute to notice the similarities to a Preying Mantis in the raptorial forelegs of this species of Assassin Bug.  We are a bit dumbfounded as to why an adult Wheel Bug would wander into a box of cereal, but we feel it was a random landing.  Generally, when people find insects in cereal, they are culprits like Indian Meal Moths, Spider Beetles or Larder Beetles.  Wheel Bugs can fly.  Do not let their lethargic movements fool you as they belie the quick grab and piercing bite of a formidable predator.  The name Wheel Bug refers to the signature cog on the thorax which we believe deters predators from swallowing adult Wheel Bugs.  There is a reason we made the Wheel Bug the Bug of the Month for November 2010, and that is because adult Wheel Bugs are a seasonal occurrence.

Letter 28 – Portrait of a Wheel Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Bug Identification
Location: Central Virginia
June 2, 2012 9:23 pm
Hi — I’d be interested to learn what sort of bug this is. Found in my garage and looked very interesting so I took some portraits.
Signature: kss_cville

Wheel Bug Nymph

Dear kss_cville,
This is surely a stunning portrait of a Wheel Bug nymph.  The proboscis is clearly visible.  Wheel Bugs are Assassin Bugs, a family of predators that uses the proboscis to pierce the prey and then suck fluids.  Wheel Bugs are capable of biting a careless human who does not use good judgement when trying to handle them.  Adult Wheel Bugs are named for the coglike structure on the thoracic region.  We will be postdating your identification request to go live later in the month while we are on holiday.

Dear Daniel,
I’m glad you liked the portrait and thank you very much for the quick identification of the Wheel Bug nymph.  I don’t think I have ever noticed one in that stage before.  Interesting mannerisms and movements — mostly I think it was trying to decide if it could make a summer long meal of me.
Best Regards,
Kevin

Letter 29 – Newly Molted Wheel Bug Nymph

 

Subject: 7578533571
Location: Madison Heights, VA
February 22, 2013 3:38 pm
what the heck is this frightening thing?
Signature: Janice Lawson

Wheel Bug nymph
Wheel Bug nymph

Hi Janice,
This is an immature Wheel Bug and it appears to have recently molted.  Adult Wheel Bugs are winged and have a distinctive coglike crest on the thorax.

Letter 30 – Newly Hatched Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: bug
Location: maryland
May 18, 2013 7:37 pm
This Bug Is Black With A Red Butt, 6Legs, Its Antennas Looked Orange On The Tips No Wings Though. I’m Located In Westminster Maryland. I Found The Eggs UnderneatH My Porch Railing.
Signature: please help

Wheel Bug Hatchlings
Wheel Bug Hatchlings

These are newly hatched Wheel Bugs.  They will soon disperse and lead a solitary life, growing into winged adult Wheel Bugs, a species of Assassin Bug with a distinctive crest.

Letter 31 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Red insect grasshopper sized
Location: Virginia
July 17, 2013 5:44 pm
We have never seen it around here before. Was on our box woods. Horn thing extending from head. About the size of a grasshopper. One hour later it changed color. From bright red to grey-brown-red.
Signature: Caroline

Wheel Bug Metamorphosis
Wheel Bug Metamorphosis

Hi Caroline,
This is a newly metamorphosed Wheel Bug, a species of Assassin Bug.  You can see its exuvia or cast off exoskeleton to the left.  The Wheel Bug will eventually darken to a dark gray when its exoskeleton hardens.

Letter 32 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: Mating wheel bugs
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
September 22, 2013 1:30 pm
We’ve seen quite a few of these bugs lately.
Signature: Brandi

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Hi Brandi,
Thanks for sending us your photo of mating Wheel Bugs.  We never tire of posting new images of Bug Love and our readers seem to enjoy seeing them.

Letter 33 – Prehistoric Bug is Wheel Bug

 

Wheel Bug
Wheel Bug

Subject: Dinosaur like bug
Location: Columbus, Ohio
October 13, 2014 3:26 pm
This guy showed up around 5 pm on October 13 in Columbus, Ohio. It was tracking the camera and waving it’s legs at it. It was about 2″ long.
Signature: Lena

Dear Lena,
Whenever we get a subject line like yours, we immediately suspect the creature is a Wheel Bug and we are usually correct.

Letter 34 – Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Orange and Yellow Bug
Location: Georgia
July 2, 2015 7:31 am
Can you help us figure out what kind of bug this is? Never seen one like it before.
Signature: Thesouphead

Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug
Newly Metamorphosed Wheel Bug

Dear Thesouphead,
This is a Wheel Bug, the largest North American Assassin Bug, but what makes your image so interesting is the coloration.  Wheel Bugs are a dark gray, but just after metamorphosis, before the exoskeleton has a chance to harden, the color is much lighter.  Your Wheel Bug has just undergone metamorphosis from a nymph to a winged adult.

Letter 35 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Carmel, Indiana
September 25, 2015 2:37 pm
I was outside walking with my kids today and found a bug I have never seen before. It followed us when I walked around it to try and get a better look. I don’t like bugs and it looked like it had wings so I didn’t get too close. From the picture it looks like it has 6 legs on one side. I live in Carmel, IN and am used to bugs, but not like this! Any idea what it is? Thanks for any information you may have!
Signature: Stephanie

Mating Wheel Bugs
Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Stephanie,
If you look closely at your image, you will see that this is actually a mating pair of Wheel Bugs and not an individual, hence your observation that there are six legs on one side.  Wheel Bugs are capable of biting, but they move lethargically and they are not aggressive toward humans.

Letter 36 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject: Please help
Location: Carrollton, TX 75010
January 27, 2017 9:06 am
I managed to take a picture of this bug that scared the living hell out of me a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to ID it ever since.
Signature: Joseph

Wheel Bug

Dear Joseph,
Predatory Wheel Bugs are not aggressive towards humans, but we would not want to eliminate the possibility that a bite might occur if a Wheel Bug is carelessly handled.

Letter 37 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject: What am I?
Location: South Jersey (August 2017)
August 24, 2017 9:29 am
Found this lounging on my picnic table. Looks like it’s giving a piggyback ride to another.
Signature: Jennifer Pierce

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Jennifer,
These are mating Wheel Bugs, the largest predatory Assassin Bugs in North America.  The angle of your image does not highlight the coglike protrusion on the thorax of adult Wheel Bugs.

Letter 38 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  New Bug to Me
Geographic location of the bug:  Powhatan, VA 23139
Date: 09/04/2017
Time: 05:39 PM EDT
Can you tell me what kind of bug this odd?
How you want your letter signed:  Terry Kefalas

Wheel Bug

Dear Terry,
This is one of the best images we have received of a Wheel Bug in a long time.

Letter 39 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Unusual creature in pennsylvania
Geographic location of the bug:  Berks county, pa
Date: 10/09/2017
Time: 05:10 PM EDT
I am curious add to what this odd bug is. Is it invasive?
How you want your letter signed:  DW

Wheel Bug

Dear DW,
This is a native predatory Wheel Bug.

Letter 40 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Stegosaurus roach
Geographic location of the bug:  Western North Carolina (Weaverville)
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 09:03 PM EDT
This bug has been on the side of our house for several hours now… never seen anything like it. It has a razor back fin thing like a dinosaur.
How you want your letter signed:  Scooley

Wheel Bug

Dear Scooley,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug, and you are not the first person writing to us comparing a Wheel Bug to a Stegosaurus.

Letter 41 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What kind of insect is this???
Geographic location of the bug:  Jacksonville Florida
Date: 11/24/2017
Time: 11:43 AM EDT
We have seen a few of these bugs in our yard mainly on the house like this one in the photo but this is the largest one we’ve seen so far. We’re just very curious to know what they are! Thanks for any info!
How you want your letter signed:  April Crawford

Wheel Bug

Dear April,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug, a common species in the eastern portions of North America.  Though not aggressive toward humans, like other Assassin Bugs, they might bite if carelessly handled or if they feel threatened.

Letter 42 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern NC
Date: 07/06/2018
Time: 11:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My friend saw this while tending her plants.  Wanted to know if anyone knew what it was.  Do you?
How you want your letter signed:  Keith Driscoll

Wheel Bug

Dear Keith,
This Wheel Bug is a beneficial, predatory Assassin Bug.

Letter 43 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Giant Alien Bug of Texas
Geographic location of the bug:  Sugar Land, TX (Near Houston)
Date: 07/06/2018
Time: 02:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Sir,
Can you tell me what kind of bug this is and a brief synopsis about it?
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Joy Z

Wheel Bug

Dear Joy Z,
This is a beneficial, predatory Wheel Bug,
Arilus cristatus, the largest of the North American Assassin Bugs.  Though beneficial, like other Assassin Bugs, a Wheel Bug might bite if carelessly handled, but they are not aggressive.  We get so many identification requests for Wheel Bugs, the species has been selected our Bug of the Month three times, in November 2008, November 2010 and for Halloween in 2014

It’s one scary looking thing, THAT is for SURE!  Thank you!

This is our favorite image of a Wheel Bug ever.

That’s enough to keep me up at night (hahaha)

Letter 44 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Pennsylvania
Date: 08/07/2018
Time: 04:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Wondering in the world this thing is and where they come from?!
How you want your letter signed:  Misty

Wheel Bug

Dear Misty,
This is a predatory Wheel Bug.  It is not an aggressive nor a dangerous species, but it might bite if carelessly handled.  Wheel Bugs are a beneficial species known to prey on Japanese Beetles, which should endear them to to all gardeners in eastern North America.

Letter 45 – Wheel Bug

 

Subject:  Unknown Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern NC
Date: 09/18/2018
Time: 09:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I live in Eastern NC about an hour from the coast. saw this bug on my horse fence after Hurricane Flo blew through. Any idea?
How you want your letter signed:  AH

Wheel Bug

Dear AH,
While weather events like Hurricane Florence have been known to blow exotic insects to distant lands, potentially increasing their range, this Wheel Bug is a native species for you.

Letter 46 – Mating Wheel Bugs

 

Subject:  Mating Wheel Bugs
Geographic location of the bug:  Pegram, TN
Date: 09/29/2018
Time: 05:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Taken w/ my iPhone. Found these two hanging upside down on my outdoor garbage can and was struck by the saw-tooth crescent thingy on their back. “What IS that??” A Google search took me to whatsthatbug, where I found the answer in Top 10 and learned about Assassin Bugs. Thanks, bug man!!
If you zoom in slightly, you can see the slender sex organ extending from the male’s abdomen towards her backside. Is this the aedeagus?Never saw one before.
Staying in zoom, it honestly looks as if his back left leg is pushing her wing slightly open for contact. And I’m probably imagining things now, after reading ‘How Insects Mate’ on thoughtco.com, but it looks like he’s tickling her with his two front left legs.
“One-third of insect species studied by scientists show….a decent effort on the male’s part to make sure the female is pleased with the sexual encounter.”
Well done, sir!!!
How you want your letter signed:  Anita Cold-Shower

Mating Wheel Bugs

Dear Anita Cold-Shower,
Your image of mating Wheel Bugs is awesome, and thanks to your careful research, we can add aedeagus to our insect vocabulary word list.  Aedeagus is defined on BugGuide as being:  “the intromittent organ of a male insect with its appendages” and according to Wikipedia:  “An intromittent organ is a general term for an external organ of a male organism that is specialized to deliver sperm during copulation.”

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

15 thoughts on “Wheel Bug vs Kissing Bug: Unveiling the Key Differences”

  1. Thank You. Since discovering your site I have gained quite an education and have solved mysteries that have lurked in the back of my mind for 30 years. Your prompt response made it possible to find out everything I needed to know about each of the specimen in question. I appreciate your time and service.
    Genesis

    Reply
  2. My brother recently showed me this bug and my wife and I saw one on our driveway yesterday. I was watching the local news just now and the news reporter showed a picture of it and referred to it as an assassin bug or a wheel bug. That’s what persuaded me to look it up on your website. Thank You John 10/27/2014

    Reply
  3. I saw one on my house the other day. I thought it was a queen stink bug! The a friend said she saw one at work. Glad w didn’t touch it!

    Glen Burnie, Md

    Reply
  4. I just removed one of these off my deck in Holden Beach, NC. Had a difficult time identifying it until my cousin looked it up under “Kissing Bugs”. Although not a true kissing bug, it fits the likeness of the “Wheel Bug”, perfectly.

    Reply

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