Meet Your New Neighbors! Wheel Bugs!
By Judy Ferris, Master Naturalist & Guest Blogger
Recently, you may have seen tiny black insects – slender-legged, with brilliant red butts which point skyward, and yellow tips on their black antennae. Congratulations on spotting a Wheel Bug nymph!
Adult Wheel Bugs mate in autumn; the time of year when you are most likely to see them in their adult form. After mating, females lay up to 200 eggs on trees, bushes, porch railings, and other objects. In spring, usually in early May, Wheel Bug babies erupt, enmasse, from their egg cases. The results can be quite startling!
HOW TO LIVE HAPPILY WITH WHEEL BUGS:
- First, let‘s talk about that bite. It can be bad. Worse than a bee or wasp sting and lasts longer. Both adults and nymphs will bite if threatened. Nevertheless, Wheel Bugs are tranquil creatures by nature and will happily ignore you unless they are threatened. Best bet is to observe but do not touch!
- Wheel Bugs are apex garden predators! Like a lion of the insect world. They are an indicator that your landscape is healthy. Be proud of them! Their menu includes caterpillars, beetles (yes, even the Japanese Beetles!), cabbage worms, tent caterpillars, Mexican bean beetles, stink bugs, aphids, cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetles, cutworms, earwigs, and tomato hornworms. The very definition of a Beneficial Garden Insect!