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How To Control Wheel BugsWheel bug

The wheel bug is part of the assassin bug family and that isn’t a good thing. Wheel bugs are rather large and are actually one of the biggest bugs found in the United States ranging between 1 inch to 1.25 inches in length. The wheel bug is usually found in meadows or on trees and shrubs.

The most distinct feature of the wheel bug is also what gives the bug it’s name: the "cogwheel" on its back. The wheel bug is the only insect in the United States with such a structure, and no one's quite sure what its use is. The bug is beneficial to have in your garden since it is a predator and eats other irritating bugs like aphids, stink bugs, caterpillars and beetles. However, it is when they slip inside a household or encounter humans is when they can be a problem because they deliver a painful sting. The pain from its bite (more accurately described as a piercing) is worse than a bee, wasp, or hornet sting, and numbness can last for days afterward.

Getting rid of wheel bugs should be a priority if you have found some in or around your home. Here are Solutions Pest and Lawn we can equip you with the right bug-killing products and expert know-how so you can get rid of those wheel bugs yourself!

Shop our top expert recommended products for wheel bug control below and scroll further down the page to view our simple how-to step-by-step instructions on how you can get rid of this pest.

How to Get Rid of Wheel Bugs: Solutions 4 Step Process

When it comes to preventing wheel bugs from entering your home and harming you or your family, we recommend a solution when involves exclusion and chemical treatments via insecticides. Whether you have a small outbreak of wheel bugs or are dealing with a sizable infestation in or around your home, we recommend a simple to execute 4-step solution:

 

Step 1:  Identification - The wheel bug adult is a frightening looking thing which immediately gives the impression that dealing with it is nothing but trouble. The wheel bug has dark features with long legs and antennae, a stout beak, large eyes on a slim head, and a uniquely large fin shaped like a cogged wheel rising from its back. They usually are dark brown with a pattern of tiny white patches all over its body. Females wheel bugs are larger than males, with the abdominal margins being more widely exposed in the females. 


Perhaps it's most frightening feature is the fang protruding out from its mouth which serves as a syringe of sorts which the whee bug uses to injects its prey with a squirt of enzymes that liquefies flesh—which it then sucks up like a summer beverage.

 

If you aren't able to identify the bug properly, go ahead and try and take a picture of the pest (if you dare) and send it our way at identification@solutionsstores.com. We'll respond back to you with the proper ID of the pest as well as offer you suggestions and tips on getting rid of the invasion from your home.

 

Step 2: Inspection - So you've pinpointed that the pest you are encountering is a wheel bug. Now it's time to conduct an inspection to figure out where it's hiding. Wheel bugs are secretive creatures, which means you could have some trouble finding this pest. In fact, people can have an infestation in there home and not have a clue because of how well they hide. Wheel bugs are commonly found in gardens, woods and shrubbery. Due to it's dark brown color, it could easily blend itself into tree bark.

 

Though they are not an overwintering pest, preferring to stay outdoors, they can very well enter into a home in search of warmth or food and this is when you may encounter them. One is more likely however, to find a wheel bug in their shrubs, garden or a tree. Be careful not to handle them as they can deliver a painful bite that some have said can feel like a gunshot wound!

 

Step 3: Control - To control wheel bugs on your yard, we recommend a combination of granule treatment with liquid insecticides. Lay out some Bifen LP Granules around the exterior of your home as well as your lawn and garden. Also spray an insecticide around the area such as Cyonara. Apply treatment once a month for two months and these products should eliminate them and keep them away from your property. Any one of our recommended broad-spectrum insecticides can also work as an exterior treatment around the perimeter of your home to act as a barrier to keep wheel bugs out.

 

If wheel bugs have made their way inside your home, spray them with an aerosol spray such as FiPro Foaming AerosolYou can either use the spray to kill them directly or apply to cracks and crevices in rooms where you suspect they are residing in if you cannot find them.

 

Step 4: Prevention -  The most important step in keeping wheel bugs out of your home requires sealing up the home against pests and securing your perimeter. Start your exclusion process with sealing any cracks or crevices to keep them from entering the home. Examine the perimeter of your home and clear up any leaves Clear the perimeter around your home of leaves or any sort of debris and make sure you don't have any gaps underneath your exterior doors.

 

Wheel bugs are also very attracted to light so do what you can to limit lights outside your home at night such as swapping out regular light bulbs for yellow bug safe light bulbs. You should also make sure to keep screens on your doors and windows.

 

It’s that simple! By following these steps, you and your family and pets will be protected from the threat of Wheel bugs.  Browse our recommended wheel bug control products below and if you have any questions or concerns about your order or you need advice on control from a live expert, feel free to reach out to us via email or phone.

 

Learn More About Wheel Bugs

The wheel bug looks like something out of a sci fi horror movie and homeowners often wonder what they're seeing is real. Arilus cristatatus, more popularly known as the Wheel Bug is a fierce garden predator and is--oddly enough when it comes to how it looks--regarded as a beneficial insect.  The wheel bug earned its name from the frightening looking wheel-shaped armor found on its back. This makes the wheel bug particularly stand out because there is no other insect native to North America that has this type of body feature.

What's the wheel there for? That's not exactly known but entomologist guess that it may be used as a signal to other insects to stay away or it may be an instrument used to attract a mate, either way it gives humans the impression that it spells trouble if they are found on the property. Aside from this, the wheel bug also emits a weird aroma that comes from scent glands on its abdomen that is believed to be used to warn potential predators that they won't like its taste.

Wheel Bug Appearance and Behavior

With bodies reaching as long as 1 and a half inches long, the wheel bug is one of the largest true bugs in North America. It also comes from the Reduviidae family, which makes it a variation of the assassin bugs and kissing bugs. Assassin bugs are known for their predatory habits, stalking their prey closely and waiting for the right opportunity to pounce and devour the unsuspecting victim. Wheel bugs inject a powerful poison from their ‘fang' called a rostrum which turns the internal organs of the unfortunate victim into liquid. Once reduced to a drink, the wheel bug eagerly sips their dinner from the shell of its prey.


Wheel bugs are found all across the United States. The North American wheel bug does not like to be seen and is such a great hider that many people have never seen one. They do not like to multiply in large numbers so chances are you'll never see more than one or two in a season and don't have to worry about some alarmingly huge infestation (thank goodness).

Thankfully, wheel bugs are not aggressive toward humans and move slowly, almost robotically. They only bite in self-defense when they feel threatened so as long as you let them do their thing and don't bother them, they'll leave you alone.

 
Wheel bugs have the ability to fly but are a bit clumsy in execution so they prefer to walk and will even climb trees to search for prey. Its grayish-brown body blends well with tree bark and leaf litter, so you may touch one without realizing it. Creepy, right?

 

In gardens, they are known to eat bugs which like to damage plants, which is why they are seen as a beneficial insect. Some of their favorite foods are Japanese beetles, aphids and tent caterpillars. If you can overlook its frightening appearance and don't try to handle it due to its painful bite, consider the wheel bug a free, all-natural pesticide. 

 

Wheel Bug Life Cycle

Wheel bugs have only one generation a year and wheel bugs nymphs hatch out each spring from eggs that have overwintered. The female deposits the small, barrel-shaped eggs to twigs and branches in autumn where they spend the entirety of winter. 

 
After about 100 days, the nymphs transition from hatchlings to adults, which means they are mostly spotted in late summer. Nymphs go through about 5 different instars (or stages) and do not get their 'wheel' until they are fully grown. The small nymphs are also highly predatory and feed on aphids and small caterpillars.
 

While not necessarily nocturnal, you may notice them at night because some of their favorite prey are attracted to the lights over your garage or front porch.

 

Wheel Bugs Bite And It Hurts!

Gardeners are warned not to handle or disturb this insect, as its bite is painful and often described as worse than a bee sting, sometimes resulting in a scar. Some pest control experts who have experienced a bite have gone so far as to compare it to being shot by a bullet, although the pain didn't last as long. It is safe to assume that they wouldn't make the best pets. Its range is widespread and reports from all across the US and Mexico let us know that it can survive in a wide range of environments.


Additional Wheel Bug Resources

Wheel Bug: Assassin of the Insect World (Arilus cristatus) - Hilton Pond

 

Beneficial insects in the garden: #09 Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus)

 

 

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