Thursday, February 25, 2016

Giant Water Bug

While we were out surveying for salamanders with Brian Edmond, his net brought up this bug.  It is a member of the genus Belostoma, which are referred to as Giant Water Bugs.  Other names are electric light bugs for their attraction to lights and "toe biters" which I will leave to your imagination.
Proboscis extended - Carlos Marzano
These are predators which feast on aquatic insects as well as snails, small fish, the larvae and adults of frogs and toads and even an occasional snake*.  Their front legs are modified for grasping, pulling prey in under its head where it stabs with it syringe-like proboscis.  Injecting digestive juices, it then sucks out the digested nutrients.

The two pair of hind legs are widened like paddles to help it swim somewhat slowly in the water.  At rest, it frequently hangs head down just below the water surface.  It has a tube which can extend out its posterior abdomen, serving as a snorkel to breathe as it surveys the water below for dinner or danger.
Male carrying eggs plus a few mites on the head- cjfrogandco
Some species of Belostoma carries the idea of co-parenting to an extreme.  The female glues her eggs on to the back of the male and he carries them until they hatch (See video).  This not only protects them from predators and drying out but exposes them to extra oxygen as he hangs under the surface of the water.  The specimen above is also carrying a few water mites.
Handle carefully!

As You have probably guessed by now that they are capable of administering a painful bite, but they generally play dead when scooped up carefully without pressure.  This specimen was headed for the 5th grade WOLF School so it was on its good behavior.
Belastoma attack on a garter snake video

1 comment:

  1. Awesome captures, the make has quite a job carrying all those eggs.

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