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Wheel bugs

A wheel bug
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
/
Flickr
A wheel bug

The wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) is a species of large assassin bug in the family Reduviidae (literally, "hangnail"). It is one of the largest terrestrial true bugs in North America, reaching up to 1.5 inches (38 mm) in length in its adult stage. It is sexually dimorphic, in that males are somewhat smaller than the females. A characteristic structure is the wheel-shaped pronotal armor. Wheel bugs prey on caterpillars and beetles, such as Japanese beetles, the cabbage worm, orange dogs, tent caterpillars, and the Mexican bean beetle, all of which they pierce with their beak to inject salivary fluids that dissolve soft tissue.

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.