A member of the assassin-bug family, the wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) is a beneficial insect that preys on other insects, usually plant pests. Typical prey are Japanese beetles, fall webworms, cabbage worms and cucumber beetles.
Its method of killing is efficient: The wheel bug punctures victims with its powerful beak, injects a saliva that digests the "innards" of the insect prey, then sucks out the body fluids.
The adult wheel bug varies from brown to gray, measures about an inch long and derives its name from the semi-circular, cogwheel-shaped crest on its back. There is one generation per year, with the young appearing in late spring.
Caution: The wheel bug's dietary habits make it a friend to gardeners, but this beneficial insect isn't a pet. Don't handle it; if disturbed, it can inflict a very painful bite.