Wheel Bug - Reduviid - Arilus cristatus


Green Lane, United States

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Artist's Description

This description is paraphrased from Wikipedia;

Wheel bugs are one of the largest bugs in North America, and can reach 1-1/2 inches length. What people usually recognize is the wheel-shaped pronotal (in the area of the first legs) armor. They hunt and eat soft-bodied insects like caterpillars, Japanese beetles, etc., which they pierce with their beak to inject salivary fluids that dissolve soft tissue. Because most of their prey are pests, wheel bugs are considered beneficial insects, although they can inflict a painful bite if handled carelessly.

Wheel bugs are common in eastern North America, although many people in the region have never seen them. They are camouflaged and very shy, hiding whenever possible. They have membranous wings, allowing for clumsy, noisy flight which can easily be mistaken for the flight of a large grasshopper. The adult is gray to brownish gray in color and black shortly after molting, but the nymphs (which do not yet have the wheel-shaped structure) have bright red or orange abdomens.


On a personal note, I enjoy their “personalities”. When unsure if I am a threat, they hide on the far side of a branch or stem and peek around to see if I’ve left yet. Their faces are expressive (to my anthropomorphic mind) and this one didn’t run and hide because I was speaking softly to it the whole time I was photographing – or maybe it thought it was already hidden in the flowers, who knows?

This picture was thaken with Canon T4i and a Tamron macro lens (1:1 90mm f/2.8) in Red Hill Pennsylvania, USA, in late September.

I am grateful for the vast variety of life we can enjoy.

Artwork Comments

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  • Laurie Minor
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  • Otto Danby II
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  • Alison Finch
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  • Rosalie Scanlon
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