Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Predaceous Diving Bug

 This bug part way submerged in the water is a Giant Water Bug in the order Hemiptera. There are 19 species within North America in 3 genera. They range in size from 3/4 of an inch to well over 2 inches. Sometimes called Electric Light Bugs from the habit of flying to pole lights or porch lights. They are even called Toe-Biters, supposedly for their preference of biting tootsies as you walk through the water.  They will be found in shallow waters, along the shorelines of ponds, streams and rivers, moving and hiding within the vegetation near the edges.

Because they are in the order of true bugs they will go through an incomplete metamorphosis, meaning there is no pupation stage. The nymphs look very much like the adults with the exception of fully functioning wings. They may also vary somewhat in color. After reaching adult size, they will seek mates. After mating the female will lay eggs on the backside of her mate. The male will carry his offspring around with him. He protects them until they are ready to hatch.

They feed on aquatic insects, snails, small fish, tiny frogs and toads. Handling one of these bugs could earn you a nasty nip from the beak-like mouth of these bugs. Like other bugs within this order they use that beak to inject their victim with a tissue destroying enzyme, this allows them to slurp up the liquified insides of their prey.

This one was photographed at our farm pond. There were 6 or more of these little bugs (approx. 1 inch) sitting on top of the aquatic vegetation at the edge of the pond, all burdened with the weight of their offspring.


  1. I will have to look but saw the back of one perhaps in a dragonfly photo I sent.Biting insects are fun to see but to stay away from for me.

  2. That's so cool! I was just wondering (without having read the whole blog entry) how the female gets eggs on HER back, when you tell me it's the male who carries them around. We encountered one of these at a work site and I was fascinated, but some of my fellow biologists were grossed out. ?!? I didn't get that at all. I thought it was very cool. And, now, thanks to you, I know it was a gentleman bug: a proud papa porting his progeny. =)