Hide, ambush, kill, eat: The giant water bug Lethocerus patruelis kills a fish

Jul 31, 2013
This image shows an adult giant water bug,Lethocerus patruelis. Credit: Mario Langourov

The giant water bug Lethocerus patruelis is the largest European true bug and the largest European water insect. The adult bugs reach an impressive 8 cm in length, and the largest representatives of the same family are even bigger - up to almost 12 cm. A new article published in the open access journal Zookeys provides detailed information on karyotype and the chromosome behavior, the male reproductive system of the species, as well as interesting insights into the life habits and the distribution of the species on the Balkans.

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 , 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.

During their study of the giant water bug N. Simov and M. Langourov from the study team 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 can be seen storming from its cover and catching and injecting saliva into a small fish.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This video shows a giant water bug larva attacking and killing a small fish. Credit: N. Simov and M. Langourov

This image shows the larva of a giant water bug feeding on a small fish. Credit: Nikolay Simov

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 and an important clue for the .

Explore further: Study reveals tiger shark movements around Maui and Oahu

More information: Grozeva S, Kuznetsova VG, Simov N, Langourov M, Dalakchieva S (2013) Sex chromosome pre-reduction in male meiosis of Lethocerus patruelis (Stål, 1854) (Heteroptera, Belostomatidae) with some notes on the distribution of the species. In: Popov A, Grozeva S, Simov N, Tasheva E (Eds) Advances in Hemipterology. ZooKeys 319: 119, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.319.4384

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Predator-prey role reversal as bug eats turtle

May 27, 2011

In a recent journal published in Entomological Science, Dr. Shin-ya Ohba shares the unusual behavior and role reversal of a giant water bug becoming the predator and eating a juvenile turtle in a ditch in c ...

Giant 3-D printed bugs shed light on insect anatomy

Jun 19, 2013

Minute insects, from the Australian National Insect Collection, have been super sized by up to forty times using a novel 3D scanning system and printed using a state of the art 3D printer.

Biology and management of the green stink bug

Sep 26, 2012

The green stink bug is one of the most damaging native stink bug species in the United States. Stink bugs feeding on cotton, soybeans, tomatoes, peaches, and other crops can result in cosmetic damage as well ...

Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs

Mar 31, 2011

In recent years, bed bug infestations have become increasingly common in Swedish homes. There are two different species of bed bug that suck blood from humans – the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug. Increased ...

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

1 hour ago

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

3 hours ago

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, ...

Factors that drive sexual traits

4 hours ago

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviours to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.