Recently, I received an email from Donna, an old friend of mine who now resides in Deltaville, VA. She attached this photo and asked me what kind of spider this is; saying she had hundreds of these things all around her house. From her photo, you may not be able to see a lot of detail; however, the cap on this deck railing is a 2×4 which means this thing is about 2 inches in length. I can imagine Donna’s concern having hundreds of these two-inch gnarly looking characters hanging around her house.
I’m a marketing guy; however, in my 2+ years here at Loyal Termite and Pest Control, I have seen just about every spider, insect, or bug that are common inhabitants of our Central Virginia region. I had never seen one of these before. I figured Hunter would know, but he is still on temporary assignment in Florida. I figured Nick or Gena Lupini would know, our company’s President and Vice-President respectively, but they are in Arizona at the National Pest Management Association convention. (I’ll speak more about the NPMA convention in my next blog)
One fact I do know, these are not spiders. Spiders have 8 legs, these do not. I figured I’d ask Leon Evans (pictured). Leon has almost 30 years experience in pest control and is highly respected as an expert termite and pest control technician. I asked Leon, “What are these things, Leon?” He looked at the picture closely and said, “That’s a Wheel Bug, you don’t want to mess around with these suckers.” He left and came back with a thick reference book; pages marked, and said, “This will tell you all about them.” As I read, the more concern I had for my friend Donna, who was already frightened at the appearance of these things. This is what I reported back to her.
This is a Wheel Bug (pictured) and belongs to a group of bugs called Assassin Bugs (that’s intimidating to start with). They are very imposing because of their size, 2 inches long is very large for a bug. You want to stay away from these if one should land on you, brush it off gently. You don’t want to make it mad because if agitated, its bite is very painful and may take weeks to heal, probably leaving a scar. They will eat spiders, insects and other bugs; however, they are just snacks for these guys. They are also classified “kissing bugs”, just like Bed Bugs are “kissing bugs”. You guessed it; their preferred food source is a blood meal. They will light on rats, squirrels, or any other animal that’s available. Again, like Bed Bugs, they will inject an anesthetic first so you don’t feel the process, then they will gorge with a blood meal.
In history, around the globe, bugs of this group have passed on deadly parasites to their unsuspecting victims; killing hundreds of people.
I told Donna to be careful that they don’t enter the house. If they do, smack them dead with a flyswatter or spray them with an ant & roach killer. They are sneaky enough to make a blood meal of you while you are sleeping, and you would not know it until you see the welt left behind. Needless to say, the facts about the Wheel Bug had Ms. Donna in a pickle.
Finally, Donna has settled down. As fast as this group of Wheel Bugs arrived; they will leave just as abruptly. There is really little treatment for a transient bug of this type. As soon as we would be scheduled to treat for them, they would be gone.
My final advice to Donna is; until the last Wheel Bug has left you and your property, always be alert and by all means, avoid any contact with them.
Email from Friend; a Deltaville Resident, “Glen What Kind of Spider is this?” in Virginia
Serving the Henrico and Richmond VA area since 1960