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The Garden Pests That Inflict Dangerous Bites Are Becoming More Prevalent In Residential Areas Of Upstate New York

    The Garden Pests That Inflict Dangerous Bites Are Becoming More Prevalent In Residential Areas Of Upstate New York

    Assassin bugs are just as menacing as they sound, as these insect species, which belong to the Reduviidae family, have a needle-like sucking mouthpart that they use to repeatedly stab their arthropod prey. Many assassin bug species, while not aggressive toward humans, have been known to pierce human skin with this sharp mouthpart, causing intense pain. Since assassin bugs prefer to maintain a habitat in high-vegetation areas, including backyard gardens, where they can easily snag prey, homeowners sometimes sustain an assassin bug injury while gardening, performing yard work or landscaping. Of all commonly spotted assassin bug species, the wheel bug may have the most fearsome reputation due to the frequent human injuries inflicted by this species. One resident reached into his front yard shrub only to have a nesting wheel bug pierce his skin. The man described the pain as feeling like being shot with a gun. Wheel bugs are traditionally secretive creatures that are not spotted often, but this is now changing, as researchers believe that the proliferation of invasive brown marmorated stink bugs around people’s homes in the northeast are causing wheel bug populations to skyrocket, as wheel bugs prey on stink bugs. The abundance of invasive stink bugs have caused wheel bugs to boldly invade gardens, patios and even houses in upstate New York.

    The wheel bug, Arilus cristatus, inflicts bites that are considered more serious than bee and wasp stings, and humans should avoid both nymphs and adults, as each can injure humans. In addition to inflicting injuries, wheel bugs are attracted to outside lights, sometimes attracting large numbers to homes. One report described more than 75 wheel bugs as being attracted to a grocery store parking lot by the establishment’s bright lights. When wheel bugs do bite humans, they often bite repeatedly, leaving behind several puncture wounds in human skin. One medically significant wheel bug case described a girl who had sustained multiple pierce wounds on her hand. Within two days, the punctures developed growths resembling papillomas. These growths persisted for months, and other case reports described wheel bug bites as taking weeks to heal. Wheel bugs grow between 1 to 2 inches in body length, and their camouflage exterior makes them hard to spot in gardens where they are most commonly found.

    Have you ever sustained a bite from an unknown arthropod species?


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