Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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This large bug has a distinctive semicircular, vertical crest on the thorax that resembles a cog or gear having from eight to 12 teeth. This is the only insect in the United States with such a crest.
Occurring throughout all of Florida, Arilus cristatus is the only species of this New World genus that occurs in this country, ranging from Rhode Island through Iowa and Nebraska to California and south into Mexico and Guatemala.
Like other members of the assassin bug family, wheel bugs can inflict a very painful bite with their prominent, curved beak. If disturbed, they extend a bright orange scent sac from the rear of the abdomen. The overall length is 2.5-3.2 cm (1 to 1-1/4 in.) and the abdomen extends laterally beyond the folded wings. The front femora are thicker than the other leg segments.