Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wheel Bug

While another member of the dragonfly trip to Wildcat Ridge was picking and eating some invasive (but tasty) wineberries, I noticed a large insect on a leaf of that plant. Over an inch long, it was an immature Wheel Bug - the largest of our assassin bugs in the US. This individual is likely a molt or two away from having the trademark spiky wheel on its back. I remarked that they likely inflict a painful bite and I wasn't surprised when I found confirmation online. Yikes! This also reminded me of a story from my childhood. I was about 9 or 10 and I had a small insect collection (a young naturalist in training!). My dad and I had stopped for hot dogs at the world famous Hot Dog Johnny's in Buttzville, NJ en route to a fishing trip. A strange, large insect was flying around the area, unlike anything we'd ever seen. I don't remember how we caught it, but it turned out to be a Wheel Bug and became a prized piece of my collection.

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