Wheel Bug – Identification

Q: My husband sent me some cameraphone pictures of a very weird insect. He and his friends are calling it “the bad-ass bug”.

From what I can gather through the pix he sent, it kind of resembles a praying mantis, but is has what looks like a saw blade on its back.

A: I think your husband and his buddies found a wheel bug. They are indeed fearsome-looking. Wheel bugs are members of the beneficial assassin bug clan. They normally prey on aphids, bean beetles, sawflies and sometimes lady beetles.

Wheel bug saliva contains a poison that kills its insect victims but their mouth is big enough to inflict a painful bite on human skin too. If your husband gets bit, he will holler like a struck dog!

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