Creepy Red Bugs Prove to Be Harmless
I went into the house and brought out a glass jar and collected the bugs in it so that I could show Bobby and positively identify them.
They are very, very ugly. They have bright red bodies and spindly black legs. They have a proboscis that tucks under their body and, in some cases, is longer than their body. Given that they resemble squash bugs--but red--and have a long sucker attachment, I figured I had the cucumber culprit nailed and that the chickens would be enjoyed some red creepy-looking bugs tonight.
But I was wrong! So wrong! My investigations tonight revealed that they are wheel bug larvae: not only harmless but actually beneficial insects because they kill all sorts of bad things in the garden. (No word on whether or not squash bugs are among their victims.) Here they are on the University of Florida's entomology website.
While scouting the garden for squash bugs tonight, I found a few more of the wheel bugs. Suspecting them to be pests, I killed them. I now feel very badly about that. :( Needless to say, my dozen or so jarred wheel bug larvae are now enjoying their freedom in the garden, on the squash plant where we've had the biggest squash bug problem. >:^)
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