Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Monday, August 04, 2008

Watch out for Wheel Bugs!

 

This time of year there are many insects about, and often times they manage to get indoors. At work and at home I have a habit catching these bugs in my hand and walking them to the nearest door or window to let them out, and then I wash my hands.

Sometimes this grosses people out, but it is just easier that way. If you run to get a paper towel the bug will probably get away, and with a paper towel you don't really have the finesse to catch and carry them without possibly squishing them.

The other day at work a large, slow-moving beetle was climbing up my co-worker's desk drawers, and he yelped about it. "There is a big bug on my desk!" I walked over to grab it, and he said, "Be careful! Here - use a piece of paper or something. It might be poisonous!"

I said, "Don't worry! It's a beetle, and beetles aren't poisonous." I reached down and grabbed the slow-moving bug and started to walk for the door, when I felt a strong stinging sensation on my thumb. Ack! I immediately dropped the bug and ran for the break room to wash my hand. My thumb was in pain for about an hour, and was numb for about a day after that.

I looked it up on Google, and it turns out that this particular beetle is called a "Wheel Bug" (Arilus cristatus), because it has a notched crest on it's back that looks kind of like a cogwheel. A Wheel Bug is a kind of Assassin Bug..

The assassin bug has a long skinny beak, and it uses this straw-like mouth to inject toxic saliva into it's victim, to poison them and to break down their tissue - so that it may later suck all of the juices out of their prey like a milkshake. Slurp!

Wheel Bugs are actually a beneficial insect because their nymphs feed on aphids and other small insects, and as adults they feed on many insects that eat crops. The bite is not life threatening but is quite painful and the area may go numb for a week or two.

Watch out for Wheel Bugs! [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ]

 

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17 Comments:

At Mon Aug 04, 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Dean Wormer said...

Mmmmm. Zaius milkshake. Can I have whipped cream on mine?

 
At Mon Aug 04, 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Funny - saw the pic and thought - "I sure hope he didn't pick up an assassin bug." Sure enough....

 
At Mon Aug 04, 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

I found the Character Assassination bug, and let me tell you, it's tenacious!

 
At Mon Aug 04, 06:16:00 PM, Blogger Spirula said...

Another to avoid is the velvet ant, not actually an ant but a solitary wingless wasp (well, female is wingless but she's the one with the "cow killer" rep).

My worst was scorpion. Like a red-hot shard of glass that one. Jellyfish are no fun either, but mainly because you get multiple stings.

(As a zoologist who spent some time in entomology, I recieved my fair share insect ass-kickings. Oddly, though I captured several, never a Wheel Bug.)

 
At Mon Aug 04, 09:27:00 PM, Blogger Bradda said...

I think the beetle was planted by Randal. He's Rovian like that!

 
At Tue Aug 05, 03:22:00 AM, Blogger Odile said...

Really beautiful bug, all of them are so incredible, in my case I have a pact with the spiders in my room: you can run free meanwhile I´m not in home, when I´m in home they live happy back the curtains eating every thing they want so the are fat and happy and I´m free of that lousy mosquitoes.
The next time you saw a rare bug, use you employee card to pick up it (if you´re in the office in you house just chase them to the door, that works for me).

 
At Tue Aug 05, 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

bradda, now that's a low blow. I haven't even released all the incriminating photos I have of our opponents. Why? Because I respect them. Well, not McCain. He's a tool.

We get ants now and then, so I try to tell my kids to leave the arachnids alone 'cause they'll eat 'em up. Plus spiders just look cool.

That beetle of yours is just dying to star in a homage to bad 50s sci-fi!

 
At Tue Aug 05, 08:31:00 AM, Blogger Übermilf said...

I was all prepared to tell this story about a wussy male coworker of mine, who wouldn't lift up my monitor for me so I could crush the bug who had crawled behind it. I wasn't even asking him to touch or kill the bug; just lift my monitor so I could do it!

Now I see how dangerous that situation really was.

Where do you live again? Can those things live in Chicago?

 
At Tue Aug 05, 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Dave The Angry Rhode Islander said...

Thank you for reinforcing my longstanding policy of killing any bug that enters my home. I leave the entire outdoor world to them all, but enter my home, and it's "koi-tins, I tells ya, koi-tins"!

 
At Tue Aug 05, 05:29:00 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

And all America wants to know: Where was Dr. vonMonkerstein when this happened?

Regards,

Tengrain

 
At Tue Aug 05, 07:06:00 PM, Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Said the beetle "I'll drink your thumbshake."

 
At Tue Aug 05, 07:16:00 PM, Blogger spocko said...

I'm glad you are still alive. Reminds me of the time a plasma bat stuck to my back. Talk about some serious pain! Dr. McCoy got it off but it cost me my eyesight briefly.

Next time just use your phaser.

 
At Tue Aug 05, 08:08:00 PM, Blogger Liberality said...

I think it is sweet that you don't just kill the bug. I give you a sweetheart award for that! I see bugs and ask my hubby to remove them too without hurting them. Just because I freak out on them doesn't mean they don't deserve to live. Hope your hand feels better soon.

 
At Tue Aug 05, 10:39:00 PM, Blogger BAC said...

Dr. Z, I'm so glad you are okay ... that bug is as big as my dogs! Oh, wait ... is that a zoom lens? Never mind ...


BAC

 
At Wed Aug 06, 09:04:00 AM, Blogger mwb said...

Oh, no. What if Dr Z., mutates into some horrible insect monster bent on destroying humanity?

Will he have to shift his registration to Republican?

 
At Wed Aug 06, 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Dean Wormer: Bah! Not even in jest, sir. Not even in jest.

Charles: Yup. I was a major moron. ;o)

Comrade Kevin: Ha! The Character Assassination bug! He must work for FOX News.

Spirula: Cool! You are a zoologist! When are you going to start a blog, sir? We are all waiting.

Bradda: Ha! Yes, I think that you're right! It must have been that foul cur Randal Graves...

Odile: I am the same way. I either take them outside or I leave them alone. I have a spider that has taken up residence in my bathroom sink. I shall attempt to follow your sound advice and try to be more careful in the future. :o)

Randal Graves: Incriminating photographs? You? You couldn't photoshop your way out of a paper bag! And you are right, spiders do look really cool. Wheel Bugs From Outer Space!

Übermilf: Why were you so bent on killing a bug? Don't be hatin'. :o)

Dave The Angry Rhode Islander: Wow! You kill bugs too. They don't eat much, you know...

Kevin: Monkerstein and Randal Graves were working together, I just know it!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: And that he did, the little bugger...

Spocko: If only I had been carrying a phaser at the time! (Set on stun, of course.)

Liberality: My hand was all better in just a few hours. I don't begrudge the bug, I was the idiot that picked him up! Bugs have a right to live on this planet as well. I try never to hurt them.

BAC: The Wheel Bug is really big, he is like an inch and half long!

MWB: Ha! I have been bent on destroying humanity long before this, one lobotomy at a time...

 
At Thu Aug 07, 10:43:00 AM, Blogger Mauigirl said...

What a horrendously scary looking bug! Glad you survived!

 

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