I have been getting a lot of questions about Wheel Bugs this fall, for some reason. They are fairly big, and pretty unusual looking.  Their most characteristic feature is a round, cog-looking wheel on their thorax.

They also move very slowly, which makes them easy to spot and follow.

Wheel Bugs are part of the Family of Assasin Bugs (Reduviidae), and are helpful insect predators.  You definitely would like to have these in your garden. They’ll eat grasshoppers and caterpillars, among other insects.

They can give a painful poke if they are picked up, so don’t let kids handle them. Their beak, or mouth, is basically a straw for stabbing through an insect’s exoskeleton, and then sucking the innards out.

You can see a great series of photos at the BugGuide Wheel Bug Page!

(and thanks to zen for this very nice photo.)

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Hee-hee — someone else who says, “suck the innards out”!

    Wheel bugs are just the coolest. (-: I think they’re a great introduction to insects-beyond-pretty-butterflies.


  2. It must be a banner year for them, as I keep seeing them all over the place around here.

  3. It’s really cute. There are so many cool (true) bugs in the USA…

  4. Not just in the USA seedsaside. :) There has been a reasonable amount of research in Australia on the use of assassin bugs in integrated pest management as well. There was a commercial push to market them as “thug bugs”. :) I thought it was a great name. And it was all based on researching methods to mass rear the insects for release into crops. It hasn’t really taken off though.

    These are exactly the sorts of insects we should be making the most use of. Bring on the beneficials!

    (Getting international markets to realise the potential of integrated management strategies is the hardest issue. Markets tend to prefer a ‘silver bullet’ approach.)

  5. I discovered a wheel bug 2 years ago at a friend’s house in north Florida. You can see some photos at my Wild Florida Photo website.
    I thought that it was pretty wild looking.

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