Tag Archives: Hemiptera

All About Giant Water Bugs

Giant water bug (Lethocerus indicus)

Giant Water Bugs are truly creepy crawly creatures that you probably don’t want to encounter. The Giant Water Bug is one of the largest insects in North America, with an average length of approximately 1.5 inches, although some grow up to 4 inches long. Giant Water Bugs are often mistaken for cockroaches and beetles, although they are not the same thing.

What Are They?

The Giant Water Bug is a true bug that lives in freshwater streams, ponds, and lakes. They are extremely strong swimmers, although most of their time is spent perching as they await their prey. Water Bugs are attracted to light, earning them the nickname “electric-light bugs.” They are also known as “toe biters” due to the nasty bites they can inflict. Another nickname these bugs are known by is Alligator Ticks or Fleas.

What Do They Look Like?

Giant Water Bugs have short, pointed beaks under their heads, along with piercing, sucking mouthparts. Their wings overlap at the hind end of their abdomen, creating an x-like pattern. They have long legs with clawed front feet, which they use to inject chemicals into the bodies of their prey.

Where Do They Live?

Giant Water Bugs are found in North America, more specifically the U.S. and Canada. They live in freshwater streams, ponds, and lakes, particularly those with aquatic vegetation. These insects prefer slow moving water, end spend most of their time waiting at the bottom of a body of water for fish or mall amphibians to pass by.

Giant Water Bug (1)

What Do They Eat?

A Giant Water Bug’s diet consists of fish, aquatic crustaceans, and amphibians, including baby turtles and water snakes. Once they strike, they inject powerful digestive saliva with their rostrum which turns their victims’ insides to liquid, which they then suck out with their mouthpiece. The Giant Water Bug’s bite is considered to be the most painful bite delivered by any insect, although it’s not really poisonous to humans – although it can cause the affected area to swell and cause excruciating pain.

What Do They Do?

Giant Water Bugs spend most of their time below the surface of water, although they are attracted to artificial lights and have been known to fly at them. When Giant Water Bugs are sitting motionless beneath water, they resemble dead leaves, which protects them from predators and camouflages them while they wait to attack their prey. The Giant Water Bug only lives for about a year. The males of the species carry eggs on their backs, which the females attach with a glue-like substance. Males cannot mate while carrying eggs.

Giant Water Bugs aren’t really a threat to humans, although their bites are extremely painful and their appearance can be intimidating. To avoid attracting water bugs, make sure you don’t have any containers of standing water around your yard. If you notice more Giant Water Bugs around your home than usual, don’t hesitate to call in a pest control professional to take care of them.

About the author: Chris is an associate for a NJ pest control company.