Our Wheel Bug

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photo permission by  C. Colby

We recently found a wheel bug and got a chance to learn about and observe this interesting insect. A friend and parent of a former student also spotted one the same day. Her photo was great and she shared it with me. Thanks, Mrs. Colby!

Wheel bugs are one of the largest true bugs in North America, growing up to 1.5 inches long. They are helpful insects, but have a painful bite, so do not handle these insects!

They have a ‘beak’ which they insert into soft-bodied prey and insert a paralyzing and dissolving liquid. Then they drink up all the insides of their prey. Yikes! I’m glad I taped down our critter cage lid with clear packing tape!

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We found out that their life-cycle is short. They hatch in April or May and molt 5 times before the summer. In autumn, the wheel bug lays 40-200 eggs. The second day we observed our wheel bug, we found the eggs she had laid. How exciting! Once the wheel bug lays her eggs, she dies. We watched this sad process all day, but understood that it was part of the cycle of this bug’s life.

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I will post more about this bug when we looked at her body and eggs under the digital microscope.