I found a wheelbug in my hair!!!!

aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)September 12, 2005

I was out in my vegetable working for awhile this morning and came in to get a drink. While sitting down at the table pondering the plans for my new cold frame, I felt something in my hair. I casually brushed my hair with my hand and out fell a large wheelbug on the table. (Irilus cristatas) EKE!! Fortunately it didn't bite me but it freaked me out.

I've been ducking these guys in my garden for weeks, being really careful to look for them before approaching...but it's a jungle out there right now and I'm getting a little concerned about being bitten by one of them. They're everywhere! It's not unusual to see 4 or 5 a day and I've seen up to 6 at once...without even looking for them.

I'm hoping that someone will tell me they won't bother me if I don't provoke them but that might not be as easy as I thought. I've read that they can spit up to 3' and that the venom? can be excruciatingly painful.

Any experiences with these...these interesting, beneficial (hah) insects? My pole beans are lush and I haven't picked any for days because of them. I have a good infestation of bean beetles right now. Does anyone know if they eat BB larvae? I know they eat caterpillars and japanese beetles.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

WHERE did you read that they spit up to three feet????? I've got to see that with my own two eyeballs.

I, for one, think you have very little to worry about. They are not interested in you and are not out to get you. I'll bet you see more bees and wasps in your garden than you do wheelbugs, right? Do they swarm after you, spitting and stinging?

I have worked around them all of my life. In college, one of my fellow entomology students took it upon himself to grab one for his insect collection. He was stabbed right in front of me. I bent over double, my ribs racked with pain. But that was from laughing! It obviously surprised the heck out of him, but suffered no more ill effects than if a bee has stung him. I do recall that he got a standing ovation from the class assistants, though.

I have never heard of them spitting. They will defend themselves but are not out to attack you. Continue to wear your gloves when you work in the garden, and try not to let them ruin the enjoyment you receive from being outside.

Now, I'm going to have to do some research about spitting!! LOL

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:14PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)


Ok I went back and looked and the site below says, "some species have developed a unique defense where they use their beak to squirt their venom at their attacker as far as a foot away! Their saliva can cause severe irritation of the eyes and nose and even temporary blindness in humans!" Key word being "some." It doesn't say wheelbugs in particular. However, their bite is said to be more painful than that of any other insect.

I have a gardening friend...big guy...that was bitten by a juvenile wheelbug once and said it was the most excruciatingly painful bite he'd ever had. I'd like to add that he...like your entomology friend, provoked him.

I'm not afraid of spiders, bugs etc, and in fact I sometimes capture the more interesting ones (temporarily) to educate my 2 yr old granddaughter. Her mother, my DIL, is scared to death of spiders and I hope she doesn't pass this fear on to the baby. I don't even kill spiders in my house.

It does make me feel better that you've worked around them all your life and never had a bad experience. Thank you for that. So I'll go pick some beans now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 5:58PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Look at it this way: IF you ever do get stabbed by a wheel bug, you'll have a great story to tell all of us and we will hang on every single word!!!! We love to swap our nightmare stories, don't we?

A few years ago, I stepped (barefoot) on a Cicada Killer wasp. Also said to have one of the most painful stings of any insect. SOooooo, I only screamed for a couple of days, and that was that! Seriously, it hurt like h-e-double toothpicks for a few minutes, and afterwards I could tell everyone that I had actually been stung by one and lived to tell about it. The fear of the unknown was much worse than the reality of the actual event. Took my nervousness away, too.

P.S. You KNOW that any guy is going to swear that it was the worst pain in the whole world! LOL! (Just kidding, menfolk!)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 2:06PM
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Hey there,
I was in North Carolina a few years back, and got bitten by one of those suckers. I was actually in a swimming pool and i think the poor thing was drowning so he saw me as not only a life-raft, but a tasty snack too! It was in a spot on my back that i couldnt normally reach...but at that point i was able to reach back and send it flying to the pool deck where my dad caught it with his T-shirt. It was by far the most excruciatingly painful insect bite i've ever had. I instantly got a baseball sized welt around the bite site and it was oozing some pretty gross stuff. So my parents decided to take me to the hospital to get it checked out..just in case (we had no idea what it was) Turns out the docs couldnt ID it either! So since i didnt appear to be dying.. they sent me home with a bag of ice. The welt lasted about a week then started to shrink. It still hurt like the devil, but at least it never got itchy >_I was finally able to ID it myself, and then when i showed my entomoligist friend the picture, she told me she could have ID'd it in a second...and that she was jealous cause she's never seen one in the flesh.

So anyway, thats my story, just thought i'd share ^_^

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 11:51AM
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