What is a Wheel Bug? Are Wheel Bugs Dangerous?

Suyash is a Master Gardener and the Editorial and Strategy Director at BalconyGardenWeb.com. With a focus on houseplant care, he combines over a decade of hands-on horticultural experience with editorial expertise to guide and educate plant enthusiasts.
Learn About Our Editorial Policy

2-Minute Read

What is a Wheel Bug? Are Wheel Bugs Dangerous? Why you should maintain a distance from these predatory insects. Stay in the loop to know!

What is a Wheel Bug

The wheel bug is a small insect that can scare you with its looks only—as you can see in the picture above! It is famous for its cog-like crest and predatory behavior, especially on pest bugs. However, humans should handle this one with caution. Why? Read below!

What is a Wheel Bug?

The wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) is an assassin bug that helps control pest insects. It is typically 1-1.25 inches long and has a thoracic crest shaped like a cogwheel or, you can say, like a chicken’s comb—making it a unique U.S. species with such a feature. Its body is dark brown with tiny white patches, long legs, and a stout beak.

Among these, females are generally larger and have more protruding abdomens than males. The wheel bugs lay eggs in clusters that resemble mini brown bottles with white tops, usually found on tree trunks, shrubs, or similar surfaces.

Also, be aware of young wheel bugs called Nymphs, which differ in appearance by being red with black marks and without a wheel-shaped crest. They can easily be found in wooden areas or near trees, specifically in summer.

Are Wheel Bugs Dangerous to Humans?

Are Wheel Bugs Dangerous to Humans

Wheel bugs, while helpful in controlling pests, can be dangerous to humans due to their painful bite. This bite is often more severe than bee, hornet, or wasp stings. Typically, a person bitten by a wheel bug will experience intense pain and numbness, which can last for several days. The affected area may turn red, become hot, and then harden and whiten at the bite site.

Generally, the healing process takes about two weeks, but this can vary based on individual reactions. In some cases, especially with hypersensitivity, recovery may take longer. It’s important to exercise caution around wheel bugs and avoid handling them.

Note: Reactions to their bites can differ from person to person, with some experiencing more severe symptoms than others. If bitten, you must seek medical attention according to the severity of the symptoms.

Read here about Do Ladybugs Bite

Significance as Predators

Wheel Bug in garden

The wheel bug is an important predator in various ecosystems. It preys on a wide range of insects across several orders, including moths, beetles, other bugs, sawflies, and aphids—particularly on those that can damage crops and plants. Their hunting method involves using toxic saliva that quickly paralyzes and kills their prey.

However, their overall contribution to pest control in forests, gardens, and agricultural areas is significant.

Watch this Video for More Information

Recent Posts

Join our 3 Million Followers:


Related Articles


  1. I did get bit by one three weeks ago through thick woollen socks. It looked like a stink bug but I didn’t know until I discovered your page. I had severe swelling in the ankle and last week the swelling came back again. I am on steroids to fight the swelling as it is hard to put weight on the foot. But good to learn about them. Just need to wear boots and long pants in the yard


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here