Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Nov. 16, 2006)
The weird and wonderful
Scratch, scratch, itch, itch, rub, rub, ouch. Consider that insects outnumber
humans by about 1.6 billion to one worldwide. Then its no mystery that the
odds of coming in contact with an insect or two during our daily maneuvers are a
pretty solid bet.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|The fascinating wheel bug
appears to have a cog-like wheel emerging from the top of its
Just think of how many butterflies, dragonflies, houseflies, mosquitoes, love bugs
and ants we see each day. And what about the unmentionables, the palmetto bug
attempting to scurry under the garage door, the spider nonchalantly spinning a near
invisible web upon the brace of the Tiffany lamp or those yucky feelers testing the
open air from the hidey-hole, damp darkness of the kitchen sink drainpipe?
Insects are found in every terrestrial and freshwater eco-system, and are
the most numerous and diverse forms of life on Earth
Entomological Society of America).
Humans spend multibillions of dollars in an all-out assault against the insect
world, yet barely maintain a peaceful coexistence. 1991 statistics suggest that
farmers alone spend approximately $4.1 billion on pesticides annually. We are
fighting a loosing battle. We are able to create machines that launch us into
space, technology to split atoms, and re-engineer plant cells, but we simply do not
have the ability of what appears to be near instantaneous adaptation. We need
solutions beyond deadly warfare including companion plantings, natural predators,
better monitoring, weather consideration, soil components, environmental
compromises and solutions, reduction of broad cast pesticides, stronger crops,
household pest management, all the while creating specific solutions for specific
All insects are not created equal in the eyes of humans. There are some insects
with better PR than others. What child can resist a giant yellow swallowtail? But
how many of us are going to line up to be slathered in honey to attract killer
bees? Its like with everything else, though, we tend to concentrate on the
bad bugs while overlooking the billions of beneficial bugs.
One such beneficial insect is the wheel bug, Arilus cristatus L. These
insects are not commonly seen, for they are cleverly disguised as tree bark. They
appear as mini-armored trucks creeping along the tree trunks sporting a cog-like
wheel emerging from the top of the thorax. These true bugs are
fascinating to watch, but a word of warning they pack a powerful bite, so
keep your distance.
While observing wheel bugs, it seemed that these insects were fairly docile. Upon
further research I discovered that scientists reported that the wheel bug, in a lab
situation, become accustomed to being handled. I would not personally want to test
that theory. Thanks, but no thanks. The bite of the wheel bug can be extremely
painful with results lasting up to six months. Nevertheless, this insect is so
fascinating and gorgeous I had to take a calculated risk in capturing it for a day
The wheel bug in captivity moves slowly. Enjoys the warmth of sunshine and seems
to like hanging upside down. But upon release, to our surprise, the wheel bug moved
with incredible speed. Wheel bugs are beneficial insects acting as predators that
feed on caterpillars, moths, and other soft-bodied insects. They help reduce
infestations within our gardens. The female lays her eggs that hatch in the spring.
The nymphs, however, look very little like their parents dressed in black and
bright red coats they are often seen in clusters.
We need insects. Our planet could not survive without insects. It is up to us to
find creating sound solutions for coexisting with our fascinating insect world. We
cant live without them so weve got to learn to live with them.
Next time youre bored, take a look around
it is certain you can find
an interesting insect nearby of some interest
back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.