Photo by Melody

Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus)

Order: Hemiptera (he-MIP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Reduviidae
Genus: Arilus
Species: cristatus


6 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama
Barling, Arkansas
Huntsville, Arkansas
Malvern, Arkansas
Molino, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Woodstock, Georgia
Coatesville, Indiana
Farmersburg, Indiana
Flora, Indiana
Macy, Indiana
Rushville, Indiana
Bennington, Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas
Osage City, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Benton, Kentucky
Laurel, Maryland
Millersville, Maryland
Waldorf, Maryland
Marietta, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Saint Robert, Missouri
Stoutland, Missouri
Apex, North Carolina
Beulaville, North Carolina
Canton, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Concord, North Carolina
Ellerbe, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Wilburton, Oklahoma
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Irwin, Pennsylvania
Macungie, Pennsylvania
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Montoursville, Pennsylvania
New Enterprise, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Belton, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Pikeville, Tennessee
Allen, Texas
Austin, Texas
Cibolo, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Houston, Texas
Snyder, Texas
Onley, Virginia
Reston, Virginia
Sterling, Virginia
Strasburg, Virginia
Winchester, Virginia

By jtr2888
Thumbnail #1 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by jtr2888

By jtr2888

Thumbnail #2 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by jtr2888

By jtr2888

Thumbnail #3 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by jtr2888

By LynnBia

Thumbnail #4 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by LynnBia

By ctindell

Thumbnail #5 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by ctindell

By sallyg

Thumbnail #6 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by sallyg

By jndell

Thumbnail #7 of Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) by jndell

There are a total of 40 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Member Notes:

Positive jtr2888 On Aug 8, 2006, jtr2888 from Bethlehem, PA
(Zone 6b) wrote:

This insect is a predator that eats other insects. I have a quite a few of them inhabiting my yard. They get fairly large, one to one and half inches or so.

The ones I have seen are grey/black with some brown on their wings. The nymph is bright red and black.

A Wheel Bug's mouth is like a syringe. It plunges it into its prey and eats kind of like a spider. I'm not an expert, this is just based off of what I've read and seen.

I don't mind them as they eat the Japanese Beetles that try to snack on my rose bush. I wouldn't pick them up. According to the insect guides I've checked, they will bite if harassed. I've never been bitten, but I have heard itís like a bee sting.

In my experience they are not aggressive, and fairly tolerant of me. I've gotten within a few inches to take pictures. They always just ignore me. At most, they slowly walk away.

Positive melody On Sep 16, 2006, melody from Benton, KY
(Zone 7a) wrote:

Pretty fierce looking, and downright scary, Wheel Bugs are one of the most intimidating insects in the garden. They look like something out of a 1950's horror movie, or a prehistoric jungle.

They are one of the Good Guys, eating other insects and preying on some of the most destructive inhabitants in the garden.

Positive SimbiDlo On Sep 14, 2007, SimbiDlo from Snyder, TX wrote:

Great to have in the garden, but it is a good idea to leave them alone, their bite HURTS like you know what, and this is from experience. I was bit on the tip of my finger and my entire hand felt on fire and went numb afterwards, I had mild swelling and pain for about three days afterwards and the little dot where it bit stayed for months!

Positive redmoran On Jul 9, 2008, redmoran from Osage City, KS wrote:

Here in my part of the country(east central Kansas) we call it Assassin Bug. They certainly hunt down and destroy a lot of harmful insects, and possibly some beneficial ones also. Thankfully they don't go after us humans, because I have been bitten a few times in my life, and it is extremely painful, with a burning sensation similar to a wasp sting, but without the swelling that I experience with wasp and bee venom.

Neutral n3yqx On Aug 10, 2008, n3yqx from Bridgeville, PA wrote:

We're just south of Pittsburgh, PA...Saw one of these bugs in the trash can on my porch and it had been kind of 'hanging out' for the past few days. It must have slowly made its way across my porch because my dog found it, needless to say the dog, Pete (who's only 13 weeks old) ended up with it in his mouth before I realized what he had. The bug bit his lip & it's now swollen about 3 times as big as it was before he was bitten. I had never seen one of these before and after I managed to get the thing off of Pete it ended up being flung into the grass. Took me 15 minutes to find it so I could get a good look at it to try and identify the type of bug it was...anyway, I ended up here. From everything I have read the bite just hurts like...well, you know what. If anyone has any suggestions about what to do to help Pete feel a bit better, please let me know....

Neutral jmarsz On Sep 26, 2008, jmarsz from Rushville, IN wrote:

I was just bitten by this creepy bug while working to frame my garage.
I flung it away and came back after rinsing the bite under cold water and applying much pressure beneathe the bite, as I had no idea what this thing was.
It is now in a ball jar and it is very mean looking.
I wanted to note that as I was capturing the bug and for a while in the jar, the end of his butt was red. he has stopped struggling and the butt is not red anymore.
After shaking him around a little, it appears that his butt turns back o red, or glows like the end of a cigarette.
The previous posts are right in that this bite hurts!
Thank you for identifying this thing.

Positive palaytiasdreams On Jun 9, 2010, palaytiasdreams from Bennington, KS wrote:

I am so glad I found you guys. I was bit by something on my shoulder while in bed almost a week ago and thought it was a "frankskeeter" as the bite hurt! The next day it was sore, but not swollen and progressively got worse through the day.

Long story short, I'm on antibods. and keeping a warm compress on it.

Had my daughter not found one of these buggers climbing on the desk we'd have just thought it was a "frankenskeeter" This site helped to confirm it's not.



Neutral lizzzard01 On Nov 25, 2010, lizzzard01 from Irwin, PA wrote:

i was sitting on my porch looking for something to do, and i saw this thing sitting on the wall (This was about a month ago). It is still sitting on the table outside after I zapped it to death. I'd say it is about 2 inches long. same bug as all of your pics. I called my friend over and he said it was an assassin beetle(I looked it up but it didnt look the same)? He also said it has the most painful bite in PA or something, but when I put it back on the zapper even after its dead and I zapped it, it starts walking around like some kind of frankenstein thing. I named it frank. please make some confirmation on all of these statements. thx.

Neutral lima471 On Sep 2, 2012, lima471 from Wilburton, OK wrote:

I have a lot of these Wheelbugs this year, ranging from small to large. What I have noticed is that everywhere I find a Katydid, I find at least one Wheelbug. I have never seen them feed and I have been over-run by Katydids this season.

Neutral Tunein116 On Jun 29, 2013, Tunein116 from Reston, VA
(Zone 7a) wrote:

Discovered this bug after it bit me on the arm! Confused it with a spider at first glance due to the bright red color. Apparently these Assassin Beetles are beneficial for controlling the pests in my newly grown garden, so perhaps I'll keep it around.

Positive swede3151 On Jun 30, 2013, swede3151 from Apex, NC wrote:

This fella (or lady?) was on my flag pole around Aug of 2011. I haven't seen him/her since. It is a beneficial bug that eats gardens pests.

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