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Death traps by seemingly harmless water bugs

Water bug
Water bug
Photo by noisecollusion

Giant water bugs are a part of a family of insects known as Bolostomatidae where their size ranges from around half an inch to just over five inches. Lethocerus maximus is the known to be the largest true bug in the world reaching a maximum length of over 12cm. Due to their large size and powerful front limbs, they are capable of preying on larger species such as aquatic crustaceans, fish, and even amphibians including cute but unfortunate baby turtles.

The life of water bugs begin as tiny eggs, either on the back of males (B. abedies and B. belostoma) or on plants above the water surface (B. lethocerus) strategically layed by females. Afterwards, a role reversal takes place where males are responsible for their eggs until they hatch, and females...just have it easy. While eggs are gathered on top of vegetation, B. lethocerus periodically distribute water onto its offspring to avoid dehydration. As for B. abedies and belostoma, the eggs are never out of their sight as they are set on their fathers' backs until hatched. After a period of one to two months, they have already gone through their whole cycle from eggs to nymphs to adults.

After a water bug's days of partying are over, it begins a life of hunting. They situate themselves on different objects under water awaiting small passers-by.When a close enough prey is spotted, giant water bugs use their strong frontal limbs to capture it. With their rostrum or beak-like mouth part, they inject a digestive fluid inside their victim causing their organs to be liquified enough for the water bug to suck back up.

Giant water bugs cannot breath under water meaning they have to periodically swim up to the surface for air. Tube-like structures are attached to the hind ends of water bugs and are used to take in oxygen when surfacing. Another method used by water bugs to remain longer in an aquatic environment is by carrying bubbles under its abdominal area where their spiracles are located thereby breathing in the already collected oxygen.

Did You Know? Certain species of giant water bugs commit infanticide in order to preserve their own genes. Such as the Lethocerus deyrollei, nearby "home-wrecking" females will at times approach the paternal parent's eggs and stab them repeatedly. Males are then forced to repeat the process of mating and laying eggs with the new female.