Wheel bugs: The Terminator of the Garden!
Have you ever been lucky enough to have seen a wheel bug in your garden? You’d know it if you saw it due to their characteristic wheel-like structure that comes out of its back. Wheel bugs can grow up to one and a half inches in length but are slow movers. They also fly using their leathery wings. If you have an infestation of stink bugs, then having these natural predators in the garden is beneficial as they love to devour them.
Wheel bugs use their very well developed mouthparts to pierce the bodies of their prey; caterpillars and beetles are favorites, in addition to stink bugs and many other pests. Once they’ve caught their prey, they inject a venom into their bodies, which paralyzes them, then liquefies their insides. The wheel bug then sucks out the innards with their long, tubular mouthpart. Gruesome, but very efficient!
Wheel bugs belong to the family of terrestrial insects that are related to the assassin bug. Wheel bugs are one of the largest insects in their family. In spring, the female will lay 40-200 eggs, which will then hatch red nymphs ⅛ cm long. After laying her eggs, the female dies. The hatched nymphs will then go through 5 molting stages before becoming an adult.
If you see one of these voracious predators in the landscape, steer clear! While they aren’t aggressive with people, if your hand gets in their way, the bites are painful and can take months to heal. Bites aside, they are very highly respected insects in the organic landscape, so please don’t harm them if you see one. An abundance of these beneficial insects, along with ladybugs, praying mantis and beneficial nematodes are a sign there is balance in your garden. Plus, these insects will reduce your need to rely on chemicals to eradicate pests in your landscape.
To start your landscape on the road to becoming a fully balanced eco-system, call us to begin your year-round organic Soil Building program. Visit our site here for a free estimate.