David was cleaning out the bed of his truck today and found this wheel bug. I happily spent my afternoon photographing it. These bugs are so fascinating. In the family Reduviidae, they are considered vicious predators of mostly pest insects. Therefore, they are considered beneficial. The first one I ever saw was at my mom’s house in East TN in October 2009. It had just molted, as seen in the photo below.
Any time I watch an insect and photograph it for as long as I did this wheel bug this afternoon, I wonder to myself what it must think of me. I must seem like some strange giant alien. This one seemed as curious about me as I was of it. I spent a great deal of time researching the wheel bug after my first encounter in 2009, so I knew that handling one can result in a very painful bite. As a result, I let it walk freely around the patio table while I studied and photographed it.
Being a proper hostess, I had to offer some water to my new-found friend which he gladly drank, much to my amusement. After I finished the photo shoot, I chose a nice long stick to carry my model to a more suitable location for freedom. Best wishes, my friend and thanks so much for the photo opportunity! To see more photos from today of this wheel bug, visit my set on Flickr: The Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus)
*CAUTION: The bug can inflict a very painful bite. Ammonia water and magnesium sulphate soaks can be helpful in relieving pain from the bite. Perhaps (like fire ant bites), quick treatment with an ammonia-based household cleaner may be effective if you have been bitten.
*Bartlett, Troy. “Species Arilus cristatus – Wheel Bug.” BugGuide. 16 February 2004. Iowa State University Entomology. 21 October 2011. <http://bugguide.net/node/view/454>.