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Home » Essential Oils & Herbs, Raising Kids

Assassin Bug (a.k.a. Wheel Bug) Bite Treatment

Submitted by on June 21, 2011 – 10:11 pm 33 Comments
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Yesterday, I was outside hanging clothes on the line, Jada and Ty were with me playing a few feet away. I heard Jada laugh and say, “Hey Ty! Come here and look at this funny bug!” I glanced over to see them crouching down examining some small critter climbing on a blade of grass.

It didn’t even cross my mind to see what it was they were looking at. I figured they’d seen all of the bugs we have around the house, and knew which ones not to mess with.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Titus pick up the bug. Jada screamed as he began to chase her with it, but within a split second I heard my little guy yell, “OWWW!” and then it was his own scream I was hearing. I dropped what I was doing and rushed over to him in time to see him throw the bug down and try to stomp on it as he cried hysterically.

Now, Titus cries like any other four year old does, but he never screams and cries like he did. I immediately knew he was hurt bad. And when I saw the bug that had bitten him, I was extremely concerned, to say the least. I thought I recognized what it was, but wasn’t absolutely positive, so I ran inside to get a jar and rushed back out to capture it before it scurried away. I knew I’d need it for positive identification if we had to head to the emergency room.

I picked Titus up and rushed him indoors. If this bug was what I thought it was, he was in some major pain. The first thing I did was what I always do when any of us gets a bite or a sting- I wiped his swelling thumb with an antiseptic wipe, got out the snake bite kit (The Extractor), and sucked the red mark hoping to remove some of the venom.  He continuted to cry, and asked me through big tears, “Why did God make those bugs?!” To which Jada decided to answer, “He had to have had some reason for making it!” Which didn’t help Ty at the moment.

I washed his hand good with soap and water. He complained that it felt “like a sword was getting him”. Poor little thing!

I gave him a piece of ice to hold on the bite while I jumped on the phone and called my husband, who used to be in pest control.

“Hey! What are those bugs that we used to have at our old place, that curl up under leaves and have a terrible bite?” I asked him, trying to hide the concern in my voice.

“Oh, Assassin Bugs. They’re also called Wheel Bugs.” He replied knowledgeably.

“I think Titus just got bit by one.” I said.

Tension immediately flowed through the phone line as Jerry asked if I think I ought to take him to the emergency room. I told him I was gonna look it up online and make sure that’s what it was first.

A quick search brought up an image that matched the ugly insect in the jar before me. It was indeed an Assassin Bug. The Wheel Bug variety, one of the worst of the various types. I continued reading about what to do if bitten by one.

These bugs are bad. Really bad. Their bite hurts 10x worse than a wasp or a hornet’s sting. And the pain can last for several weeks or even months. I read all kinds of horrible reactions he could have, including a swelling throat which would require an epinephrine shot within 15 minutes.

When I read this I jumped on the phone to call my grandma who is allergic to bees. I wondered if she might have an epi pen on hand, but unfortunately she didn’t. I was left to worry about how I’d get him to an emergency room in time to give him the shot, should he need one. (Note to self: Get an epi pen!)

I went back into the kitchen where he was sitting and told him to let me know if his throat started to feel funny. He said, “It does.” I tried to soften my concerned expression as I said, “Now buddy, you have to be really serious ’cause if you tell me your throat feels weird I’m gonna take you to the hospital.” To which he replied, “It does feel weird.” I asked him what it felt like. “Like a tree fell on my throat, and it’s bleeding,” he casually explained as he munched away on a cucumber. I figured he was fine since he was eating. And he was.

His thumb, on the other hand, was not fine. It was red and swelling. I decided to have him soak it in a bowl of warm water with Epsom Salt for several minutes. He said it felt a little better, but it still hurt.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Plantain!!! I hurried outside to the garden where I knew of a big Plantain plant growing beside the tomato bed, and picked a large leaf off of it. After bringing it inside and washing it off, I chewed it up a bit and placed it on Ty’s sore thumb. Then, holding the wet green glob directly on the bite, I wrapped it with gauze and secured it with tape.

An hour and a half later Titus was back to his normal self, playing as if nothing had happened, and claiming to be pain free. I took the bandage off to find that the swelling was completely gone, and his thumb looked perfectly normal again! Only a red dot where the puncture had occurred remained.

I figured the pain would return after a while, but I am SO thankful to be able to say that it was gone for good. Praise the LORD for his healing herbs!!

I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved and grateful I was that he was okay and pain free. Especially knowing how bad it could have been. I kept checking on him through the night to make sure he was still okay. You know us moms, we always fear the worst!

Anyways, I thought I’d share what worked for us just in case anyone is doing their own emergency google search for what to do when bitten by one of these bugs- which, by the way, Titus has decided to rename “Dumb Bug”- which he’s not normally allowed to say but he totally earned the right to call it just about whatever he wants.

And now he knows, never touch one of those things again! I hate that he had to learn the hardest way! Oh, and by the way, turns out God created the Wheel Bug to help with garden pests. It’s a very beneficial insect to have around. Just be sure not to pick one up!

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33 Comments »

  • Lil Adickes says:

    I was bitten by an Assassin bug yesterday, and after reading some of these experiences,am glad to know that I was not exaggerating the pain. Someone said, “like slamming your hand in a car door” I mean really, really bad pain. Like slamming your hand in the door over and over again! As I live alone, I started getting a little concerned when my thumb started swelling, and after 2 hours, the pain had not abated. I didn’t see the bug. I was just pulling fallen leaves from my large planter, so didn’t know what had bitten me. Maybe a Black Widow or Brown Recluse spider? I finally went to my doctor neighbor and he reassured me that I was not going to die! The intense, throbbing pain lasted for hours through the night. I’ve never heard of Plantain either, but would like to know about it, and if I can get it at the pharmacy. That bug is Still in the box!

  • Mandie says:

    Oh, the irony. R was just stung, and while we know that it’s a wheel bug with a painful sting, B rushed inside to google treatments, and up pops this post. Thankfully, he’s fine, but a little sore. Thanks again!

  • Adam M says:

    My wife was just bitten by a red and black nymph wheel bug and I’ve never heard her curse before. It left a serious welt on her arm. She said it felt like a needle going in, not until alcohol swab and calamine lotion did it get better. Also, good to know about the plantain weed. I’m going to check if we have any nearby tomorrow. My 4 & 5 year old boys now know to stay away from these critters, me too!

    Thanks for the info.

  • anon says:

    Got stung by a wheel bug when i was a kid, i was holding it while it stabbed its proboscis under my fingernail. Dont pick these up!!!

  • Lynne says:

    And VERY painful at times.

  • Lynne says:

    I would like to know if anyone has had a prolonged experience with a Wheel bug bite? I was bitten more than 15 years ago but have had a severe itching at the bite site. Usually only when I get to hot, but lately it has been occuring more and more and now is a daily thing. Anyone else?

  • Ken says:

    My young boys and I like critters, so when one of them brought home an interesting and docile bug last week, we held it a bit and kept it in a jar for a few days. It was only after we let it go that I even thought to find out what it was: a wheel bug. Needless to say I’m in shock that we were holding such a sinister lil’ creature! Luckily we were spared its wrath, and we’ve learned a lesson.

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you so much for the Assassin bug bite remedy! I was just bitten this afternoon and like your description of pain, I experienced it, too. When I found the bug, I ran inside and googled it and remedies. I found plantain and it seemed to have taken the sting and swelling down. Thank you so much and God Bless you for sharing this. So glad your son is fine!

  • jason says:

    I remember when i was 6 years old now i am 28 i saw a bug with red and white markings on its legs up in kirkland lake ontario i used to love bugs when i was a kid i thought it was a beetle but i thought wrong it was an assassin bug when i picked it up i felt it bite me it felt like a bee sting that was the first time i was bit than when i was 8 i saw a bluish black bug i thought it was a beetle again and picked up and i got one of the most painful bites i felt it felt like i picked up a hot coal with my bare hand again it was an assassin bug and just last year i live in sault ste marie ontario now i saw an assassin bug it was grey and orange in color and i did not pick it up because now i know how nasty there bite is instead i used a stick and put the bug in a dish and i put it in my grandpas garden because i know these bugs are benifitial to gardens and i now like to look at the assassin bugs and respect them

  • Jani says:

    I think it’s a beautiful bug; I hope you released it to live the life the Lord gave it. I’m sorry it bit your son, but I’m very impressed how well you reacted.

  • John says:

    I admire your resourcefulness, but allergic reactions can sometimes get deadly very quickly. I would never hesitate to get my son to the ER if he complained of any kind of throat difficulty following a bug bite.

  • Michael says:

    Wish I had a plantain tree handy. I was on the phone last night on my porch (in Florida) (I now realize how dumb this can be). I heard something flying and I tensed up, of course it landed right on my neck. I went to get it off but it was too late. WOW! I later read that this thing literally has the worst bite… even more painful than snakes. The worse part is that it landed right on my jugular vein. I knew what it was when I threw it down and saw it. I live in a rural, agricultural area. Still, being bit on the jugular was a cause for concern. Even worse, 10 seconds later I began to feel woozy and cognitively impaired. I live so far out of town away from a hospital! My only option was to call poison control hotline to which they seed even a bite on the jugular isn’t cause for concern AS LONG AS allergic shock doesn’t occur. So I was fine, still VERY VERY sore and it scares me to think this pain can last up to six months! So very absurd!

  • Shelly says:

    I was just bitten twice by a small red butted wheel nymph. It somehow got into my shirt and when I put my arm down to my side it bit me. As I gasped in pain and lifted my shirt to see what happened it happened again a couple inches over. I asked my 19 year old daughter to see what it was and she said “Mom take your shirt off quick.” So I did and when I turned it inside out there was the assassin bug in all it’s glory. My grandson is 9 months old and when he saw Grammy take off her shirt and throw it on the floor he raced over to grab it thinking it was a game. Right as he grabbed for the shirt I kicked the shirt away from him. He almost grabbed the bug. My heart was racing so bad. I was in some pretty bad pain and after killing the bug I looked it up and found out it was a wheel nymph. I am still hurting. I have never been bitten by something that hurt so bad in my life. My husband went outside to kill the ones he could find because we can’t take any chances with our grandson living here. I took some benedryl in case of an allergic reaction and put some Prid salve on it to draw out the venom. I also have an Epi Pen on hand because I am severely allergic to mold. I hope the swelling goes down soon and I am going to look up plantain so I can get some relief. I am glad your son is ok and I sympathize with him because it hurts so bad. He is quite a little boy to react the way he did. I know I was crying and feel a little embarrassed that I reacted that way but it is a very painful experience. I hope no one else ever has to experience a bite from this bug. It is a horrible feeling. God bless you all.

  • Ouch says:

    Assassin bugs hurt. A lot. I’ve been stung by bees and wasps, and the first (and only.. I hope) time that I was ever stung by an Assassin bug was on a golf course. Nothing I have felt compares.

    It was mid-June, which is when their offspring begin to rise out of the ground. The same evening, the sprinklers for the course were on, so the ground was soggy and perfect for them to come out.

    Combine this with a golf cart and spotlight at night, the bugs were having a field day with us. A red and black assassin bug landed on my leg, and I blew it away, thinking nothing of it. Not five seconds later, I feel a TREMENDOUS pinch on my hand. I was floored by how bad this thing hurt. It feels like being poked with a burning hot needle, similar to having your hand slammed in a door.

    Your little tyke sure is a tough one for taking it like he did. I was jumping all over the course letting expletives loose like missiles.

    In closing, Assassin bugs are aggressive, and the red version definitely are not scared of laying down the law with you.. proboscis style.

  • Garth says:

    Sorry for the awful encounter but glad to hear he’s okay.

    Not sure if you researched the wheel bug at all bug you should. They’re actually quite interesting. I hadn’t heard of them before so I googled it. In spite of their bites, they’re actually a classified as a beneficial insect, eating garden pests like caterpillars, beetle larvae and adults, aphids, other soft-bodied insects.

  • Kris says:

    Note to self: add Plantain to medicinal herb garden.

    Glad your boy was okay!

  • Lorie says:

    I just watched this today and it must be exactly what you did with the plantain!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BulkHerbStore#p/c/393401A49800EA3A/26/ueQLCJKQUh0

  • Lorie says:

    That’s one ugly bug, I’ve never seen one where I live. Amazing what a weed can do!

  • Babychaser says:

    So glad to hear the plantain worked! Glad he’s feeling better!

  • Teresa says:

    We have a few of those around I had no idea they were that dangerous. I am sorry he got hurt, and glad he is better. Hmmmm maybe he learned not to chase his sister with bugs:) always have to look for some positive out of it lol. I am glad he is ok though.

  • Deanna says:

    Plantain! Love it! We have used it for bee, wasp and yellow jacket stings, and even cuts!

    It is a great plant!

    Deanna

  • SJ Smith says:

    Wow. I had a form of assassin bugs on our yard long beans a few years ago. Every evening, they flew in at sundown and left as the dew warmed up around 10 am the next day. They chattered alot whenever I tried to pick beans and scared me. I learned to harvest beans when they were gone in the daytime. Now I’m glad I was never bit. Now I’m really glad for their warning chatter.

  • Cindy says:

    Oh my! Never fun to see our little ones struggle with pain. I think we have those creatures that look prehistoric, which for me, that’s lethal enough. No need for up close examination from me, YUCK…. Sorry for your little ones mishap, he sounds like a tough little guy.

  • Wiseley Used Herbs says:

    The amount of beeswax to medicinal oil is 1 c oil to 1 oz beeswax. :)

  • Rachel Thompson says:

    The whole time I was reading I was saying “PLAINTAIN, PLAINTAIN”!!! and then bammo, you stated “And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Plantain”!!! How cool is that!!! Any way, praise God Ty is OK, and praise God that you had Plantain growing in your yard!!!
    Here is a recipe for a salve to keep on hand for occasions such as yours:

    1 Large Mason Jar
    Fill 1/2 to 3/4 full with equal parts dried Plantain and Comfrey leaves
    Top off with extra virgin olive oil, sun flower oil, or any good oil of your choice.
    Place the jar in a water filled crock pot, low heat (Make sure there is a dish towel in the bottom of the crock pot!!
    “Cook” for THREE days, shaking occasionally
    After the three days, strain the mixture in cheese cloth, or an old t- shirt into a bowl.
    Now, you can either use the herb infused oil as a first aid oil, OR you can melt beeswax with the oil, add vitamin E oil, and place the mixture in tins. You should get about 5 4oz tins from a large mason jar. I can’t remember the exact amount of Bees wax, I will add that to a note later…
    This salve is to be applied EXTERNALLY ONLY!!! It will heal up cuts fast, and take the sting out of nasty bites in a flash!!!!
    : )

  • What a cruel looking bug! I’m glad he’s okay and that you had plantain handy!

  • Laura says:

    Wow that is one nasty looking bug…I thought all the crazy looking bugs were on our farm. Glad your little boy is ok. My husband got stung by a wasp last year while dropping out little boy off at camp and one of the camp counselors taught us about the plantain my husband said it was amazing how it worked so well. Good thing you had some right there.

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