If you’ve gardened for long you have probably had this experience: you’re picking green beans and an evil looking fly-like insect lands on your arm. Reflexively you just swat and kill it. After all it was a “bad bug,” right? It was so ugly, or looked so menacing, it just has to be bad for the garden, right?
Wrong! Some of the most beneficial of insects look really bad, to the untrained eye. Here’s a picture of a wheelbug, one of my best garden buddies. Wheelbugs eat lots of other insects, including potato beetles, Mexican bean beetles, grasshoppers, aphids and many others. If you see one of these “ugly bugs,” let it live, but don’t try to pick it up. The wheelbug is capable of delivering a very painful bite. It won’t bite unless it feels cornered. It’s not aggressive. But it can really hurt if it does bite.
I have only been bitten once, when, without looking, I leaned on a fence and put my hand down, full force, on top of a wheelbug. The wheelbug survived because the bite it inflicted GOT MY ATTENTION. Still, when I encounter one in my garden, my main thought is how pleased I am that it has taken up residence there.
I just sort of bumped into this thread. I have a bug in my garden that I used to see all the time especially on my bittermelon vines that looks just like this guy. I call it the bucketloader bug. For lack of a better word for this dude. I always assumed it was a bad bug. I didn't noticed it doing any damage to my vines. But, I assumed it did. My bucketloader bug has the same armored profile and color except it seems to have more substantial front legs. Big and thick. Sort of big like on a bucketloader. Hence my name for him. I noticed them to be very agile on the vines. They can really maneuver around. Hard to catch them. Maybe thats why I never got bit.
Bites are kind of rare, as they are very attuned to their surroundings and careful about people. The only bite I've ever experienced was outside the garden, one day when I was filling water buckets for the animals. I leaned on the fence, and there just happened to be a wheel bug right there. I put my hand on him without noticing and I leaned on him. His bite stung me like a hornet, but, at least he survived, as did I
Post by heavyhitterokra on Jun 19, 2019 5:59:22 GMT -6
I LOVE WHEELBUGS!!!
I know that sounds like a cheesy Tee-shirt slogan, but really, I do love them!
Just Like you two fellas; I assumed Wheelbugs were bad bugs because they were ugly bugs, then, one night, during the Great Grasshopper Plague of 2012, I observed a lone Wheelbug; creeping along on one of my hoop house ribs, stalking a grasshopper.
It was past 11:00 pm, getting on toward midnight. I was out there, once again, catching a thousand or so grasshoppers with a 5-gallon bucket and a flashlight.
Curious as to what this strange looking bug might be up to at such a late hour, I became mesmerized by the slow-motion spectacle that began to unfold before my very eyes ... This unlikely looking garden hero stealthily and sneakily slipped up behind the unsuspecting grasshopper and jammed a long proboscis into the grasshopper's backside, where it began happily sipping its evil juices!
Ever since that night, a Wheelbugs have been my heroes!
Since that time, I have also seen them sucking the juice out of red wasps, Colorado Potato Beetle larvae, Japanese Beetles, and horned tomato worms.
Another cool garden bug is the flat-tailed assassin bug. Unlike George, I do not know how to transfer a photo from the Internet to this forum or I'd add a picture of one right here.
A few other garden heroes are Ladybugs, Praying Mantis, Mason Bees, Minute Pirate Bugs, Damsel Flies, Green Lacewings, and Braconid Wasps. Again, photos here would be nice.