Arilus Cristatus, commonly known as the wheel bug, due to their unique gear like structure. These assassin bugs are part of the Hemiptera order, Reduviidae family and found throughout the Northeast and the South in the U.S. Fun fact: stink bugs and bed bugs are a part of the same family.
Wheel Bugs are diurnal but are commonly attracted to lights. This is why they will try to get indoors at night. The eggs are brown, cylindrical and laid in groups during the fall. In the spring, the eggs hatch and continue developing until reaching the adult stage in summer /fall. Immature wheel bugs are initially red and black before transitioning to a red and gray color pattern then finally, a gray and black color pattern. Though older nymphs will have visible wing pads, they are not able to fly like the adults. They are one of the largest bugs that currently exist on the planet.
Like their cousins the stink bug, they too have an odor but it is a lighter scent. Although, it is strong enough to get noticed by potential predators and humans. If disturbed, the wheel bug will express two orange-red scent sacs from its anus, emitting a strong stench.
Beneficial insects, such as the Wheel Bug are not known to transmit any disease to humans. However, this is an indication you may have an issue with plant eating pests. If you have identified a problem with wheel bugs try to locate and seal the entry point, if inside. If outside, you will need to eliminate their food source. You may have beetles, caterpillars, or other lawn or plant damaging pests that they feed on.
The assassin bug will bite if picked up and handled carelessly. The bite of the wheel bug is immediate and painful. If bitten, wash and apply antiseptic to the site of the bite. They are good guys that feed on plant damaging pests. If found, relocate them after eliminating their food source(s).