The giant water bug — Lethocerus patruelis — is a very large bug, in fact it’s the largest “true bug” in Europe and also the largest water insect. The adults grow as large as 8cm in length — and the biggest representatives of the same family get as big as 12cm, quite large for a water insect. Large enough to kill and eat a fish even… As you can see in the image below…
New research on the interesting bug has yielded some new information: “Lethocerus patruelis is a member of the family Belostomatidae also known as electric light bugs or toe biters. These bugs are fierce predators which stalk, capture and feed on aquatic crustaceans, fish and amphibians. When they strike, they inject strong digestive saliva, sucking out the liquefied remains to feed. This powerful hunting tool gave the family its common name, referring to the extremely painful bite from the Belostomatidae members. Their bite is considered one of the most painful that can be ever inflicted by any insect but it is of no medical significance.”
While performing their new research on the giant water bugs N. Simov and M. Langourov, the researchers “had the unique chance to witness and record on video the vicious predatory practices of the species. In the recorded material, a larva uses the stems of a water plant to stalk and ambush its unsuspicious pray. The giant water bug larva can be seen storming from its cover and catching and injecting saliva into a small fish.”
“During the last ten years, many new findings of L. patruelis were made by the team in Southern Bulgaria, providing evidence that the giant water bug is expanding its territory northwards. Such a wide and abundant distribution of the species in these regions would be a further sign of the recent changes of European bug fauna caused by climate change and an important clue for the effects of global warming.”
You can see the video of the water bug eating a fish here.
The new research was just published in the open access journal Zookeys.