University of Maryland Extension

Small Beaked Wonder

Steve Allgeier
Arilus cristatus

Wheel bug nymphPlenty of live samples and pictures of the wheel bug nymphs have come into the University of Maryland, Carroll County Extension office this past month. These small critters have a spider like appearance, and tend to alert or scare many people because of the red antenna tips and red abdomens. Not completely harmless, this beneficial insect can "poke" people with its long beak. According to University of Florida "its bite usually is more severe than a bee sting, and both nymphs and adults should be avoided or handled with caution."

However: "The wheel bug belongs to a family of insects commonly referred to as assassin bugs. Assassin bugs are some of the most important beneficial insects in our gardens. They feed on a wide variety of pests including caterpillars, plant hoppers, sawfly larvae, aphids, and beetles. In autumn, the well-fed female wheel bug lays 10-40 barrel-shaped eggs in a cluster usually on the bark of a plant." – Form Bug of the Week, Michael J. Raupp, Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland.

For more information about Wheel Bugs and other insects see the University of Florida - University of Kentucky Entomology

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