Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wheelbug Instar

Junior wheel bug, Arilus cristatus
I've been wanting to post this picture of a wheel bug larva for a week or two, but I was hoping to get an image of an adult to pair with it. Well, adult wheel bugs aren't flinging themselves out of the bushes to be photographed (the little guy or gal pictured above played a long game of ring-around-the-coneflower with me before I could even get that shot), so I'm going to proceed without a visual comparison with the final morph. Until I get my own picture, you can click the link below to view the adult version.

image of two adult wheel bugs on flickr

Adult wheel bugs are totally distinctive. They are the only North American insect with a characteristic raised crest behind their heads. They are also quite shy. If noticed, they generally attempt to scurry out of sight, ducking beneath leaves and twigs. Wheel bugs are excellent garden insects. They are fierce ambush predators, and they especially savor caterpillars, beetles, and aphids.

Man and beast alike would be well advised to leave wheel bugs to their business. Over at SFgate, Richard Fagerlund compared being bitten by a wheel bug to being shot. Richard has, in fact, been shot. I figure he know's what he's talking about. The pain lingers for a few days, and some victims report numbness in the area that eventually subsides.

Despite their immense capacity to deal out pain, I'm glad to have wheel bugs around, and doubly glad they're surviving in my urban prairie. This unique insect is the tiger of its miniature forest.

No comments:

Post a Comment