We were trying to put together the shed in a box that has been in the garage, partly assembled, since winter (we nearly froze our hands trying to assemble it outside), when we noticed a very strange insect walking slowly and methodically across the garage floor. From the way it moved and its size, it looked a bit like a praying mantis at first glance.
When we got closer, it was clear that it wasn’t a mantis. It was a grayish color and had a spiny-looking protusion on its back. To ensure it wouldn’t be run over in the garage, we carefully relocated it outside, using a piece of wood.
It turns out that this creature is a wheel bug, related to the assassin bug. These bugs prey on other insects, like Japanese beetles (plentiful around here), and can apparently inflict a painful bite. The one we encountered seemed pretty mellow, but caution is warranted when handling unknown insects. Another interesting farm denizen, and, according to Dr. Michael J. Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, a sign of “a very healthy landscape” (full article here). We don’t use chemicals on our pastures and fertilize naturally with chicken, duck, and rabbit poop, and the vegetation has responded enthusiastically. Apparently, so have the bugs!
And the shed? Back in the garage for now – shortly after we started work, it started raining (with thunder – #%€*!) and no one wants to be holding tall metal pieces in that kind of weather.