Giant Water Bug Eats Fish by Injecting Mixture of Saliva Chemicals into Prey

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Giant Water Bug

Snejana Grozeva from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia and colleagues from Bulgaria and Russia presented the first known film of Europe’s giant water bug Lethocerus patruelis eating a fish in the journal Zookeys on July 31, 2013.

Lethocerus patruelis is also known as electric light bugs or toe biters is the largest bug in Europe. The bug can grow to be as long as five inches.

The study published in the journal Zookeys provides detailed information on the chromosome behavior, the male reproductive system of the species, as well as the insights into life habits and the distribution of the species.

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 practices of the species. In the recorded material, a larva uses the stems of a water plant to stalk and ambush its unsuspicious prey. The giant water bug larva can be seen storming from its cover and catching and injecting saliva into a small fish.

Lethocerus patruelis is a water bug that feeds on fish, frogs, and crustaceans in its fresh water habitats. The bug injects a mixture of saliva chemicals into it’s prey and eats the predigested matter from the carcass.

Their hunting tool or saliva injection gave them their name which refers 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.

Lethocerus patruelisis found throughout the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia, and parts of the Middle East. 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 according to a press release. 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.

Giant Water Bug Larva Attacks

This video shows a giant water bug larva, Lethocerus patruelis, attacking and killing a small fish. The giant water bug larva uses the stems of a water plant to stalk and ambush its unsuspecting prey.

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