Barron of Blog Wife, Kids, and the Pursuit of Happiness

18May/0638

Bug of the Day: Giant Water Bug

Giant Water BugThe Giant Water Bug is an aggressive predator of fresh water. It is also commonly called a “toe-biter” (guess why). While they primarily live in ponds, lakes, and streams Giant Water Bugs will occasionally leave the water to fly around light sources at night. Some people who see these large insects buzzing around lamp posts at night often mistake them for cockroaches; of course, since we know that cochroaches actively avoid light, these people are morons.

Giant water bugs are not scavengers: they love to hunt. They are large enough to capture small fish, tadpoles, and snails. Giant water bugs first capture prey with their powerful legs. Once in their grasp prey are pierced with a pointed mouthpart, injected with a digestive enzyme that liquefies tissue, and sucked dry like a giant smoothie. Yum!

Filed under: bugs, science Leave a comment
  • Ginger

    I was having dinner with my husband and a friend on my deck last night (Sept. 4, 2006) and was hit in the back. I jumped so high that I almost hit the roof of my gazebo. It was just getting dark and there was very little light. ( which is ever stranger for it to find us)
    When I saw what this was I freaked. I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and have never seen one before. Are they indiginous to this region? I really don’t ever want to see another one.

  • Ginger

    I was having dinner with my husband and a friend on my deck last night (Sept. 4, 2006) and was hit in the back. I jumped so high that I almost hit the roof of my gazebo. It was just getting dark and there was very little light. ( which is ever stranger for it to find us)
    When I saw what this was I freaked. I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and have never seen one before. Are they indiginous to this region? I really don’t ever want to see another one.

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    Hello Ginger,

    The various species of giant water bugs (family Belostomatidae) live mainly across North and South America and also eastern Asia. I’m not surprised that you saw one up in BC; the climate is not ideal but is within their range.

    Wikipedia has an excellent article that includes a lot of interesting facts on these amazing beetles.

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    Hello Ginger,

    The various species of giant water bugs (family Belostomatidae) live mainly across North and South America and also eastern Asia. I’m not surprised that you saw one up in BC; the climate is not ideal but is within their range.

    Wikipedia has an excellent article that includes a lot of interesting facts on these amazing beetles.

  • Jenny

    I found one of these giant and fascinating little guys the other night, and had no idea what it was. No one I asked had any idea either. NO one had ever seen one before. When I got home from work, I did some research and came across your picture and knew right away that I had found my answer. I let my beetle go, which I fondly name Wilfred. I hope he’s happy wherever he is now. And I hope that I find another so I can try and raise it in my home! I live in (way) Northern California and am now keeping my eye out for another Toe Biter, just hope I don’t meet one in the water!

  • Jenny

    I found one of these giant and fascinating little guys the other night, and had no idea what it was. No one I asked had any idea either. NO one had ever seen one before. When I got home from work, I did some research and came across your picture and knew right away that I had found my answer. I let my beetle go, which I fondly name Wilfred. I hope he’s happy wherever he is now. And I hope that I find another so I can try and raise it in my home! I live in (way) Northern California and am now keeping my eye out for another Toe Biter, just hope I don’t meet one in the water!

  • Jim M

    Found one of these bad boys flying around a Target parking lot (by the light, of course). Thought it was a bat but when it landed, YIKES!

  • Jim M

    Found one of these bad boys flying around a Target parking lot (by the light, of course). Thought it was a bat but when it landed, YIKES!

  • tomandjake

    we saw one in the pool and we squised it with a brick.

  • tomandjake

    we saw one in the pool and we squised it with a brick.

  • PAULA AUDET

    my sons doing insects at school and his grandad found this water bug(which I had no idea what it was) in Rockhampton, Queensland Australia.My son is pretty impressed with it. He’ll sow his class and let it go.

  • PAULA AUDET

    my sons doing insects at school and his grandad found this water bug(which I had no idea what it was) in Rockhampton, Queensland Australia.My son is pretty impressed with it. He’ll sow his class and let it go.

  • Jenn

    I was at work closing one night when my people greeter called me over to her. There was the biggest bug with pinchers comming out of its face that I have ever seen before. It freaked me out and thats when I did the research and saw its a giant water bug. YUCKY!!!

  • Jenn

    I was at work closing one night when my people greeter called me over to her. There was the biggest bug with pinchers comming out of its face that I have ever seen before. It freaked me out and thats when I did the research and saw its a giant water bug. YUCKY!!!

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  • treeman123

    Just found one on our front porch in Whonnock – Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Thought it was a cockroach at first but researched it and found this site. It is about 4 inches long in total and very aggressive. My daughter will be taking it to her Biology 12 class in the morning and will then let it go. Scared us to death when we first saw it and the info on it is even scarrier. Never seen one before in my whole 40 years. Would love to know approximately how many have been seen up here or roughly what their population may be.

  • treeman123

    Just found one on our front porch in Whonnock – Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Thought it was a cockroach at first but researched it and found this site. It is about 4 inches long in total and very aggressive. My daughter will be taking it to her Biology 12 class in the morning and will then let it go. Scared us to death when we first saw it and the info on it is even scarrier. Never seen one before in my whole 40 years. Would love to know approximately how many have been seen up here or roughly what their population may be.

  • Angel

    i just found one in my house in michigan!!!! omg it scared the crap right out of me!

  • Cliff

    OMG!!! we found an army in the ladies room…it almost killed our electrician…why he was in the ladies room I have no idea…..

  • Justinearia

    holy cow. I got chased around by one of these suckers this morning when I got to work in Delta/Surrey, BC. I thought that it was a bird that had crash landed at first. But I then went to check it out, and found that it was a Giant Bug(Which I am terrified of). Terrible experience.

  • A_Person

    Just “found” one in Niagara Falls, Ont this evening.

    Is now a “pet” for a entomology scientist at a local college.

  • Ellenrunn

    Here it is September, aren’t these things supposed to be gone? i took my dogs out this Am around five and heard rather than seen something. i turned just in time to see it chase the dog. Four inches long . large pincers. and long antenna. anyone ever see a Siberian husky run from a bug? even he knew it was best to leave it alone. i pushed it off the porch and hope it will find a new home far away from me and my house. only ever seen one before but not this big.

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    Found one of these bad boys flying around a Target parking lot.

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  • Pomtue

    we found one in our school……………….hahaha beat that lol
    and now we are feeding it

  • Dirty Di

    We found one trying to enter Save on Foods in Ladner, British Columbia at 12 noon, I guess looking for lunch. This sucker was HUGE!!!! and yes some moron oops sorry passerby called it a cockroach. yeah also about 4″ long by an 1′ wide… my 3 year old said mommy crab!

  • Bpryder Sly

    Found one outside our halfway house we paid a guy 37 $ 4 a pak of smokes to chew it up an swallow it. All I can say is it landed n the wrong place at the wrong time

  • BH0

    Saw one of these monsters in downtown Moncton, NB tonight on my walk… at least 3 ” long. It was very sluggish and inactive, as though it were dying.  I took a few pics, hope to never find 1 in my house !!!!!

  • A Mattson33

    Found one in are pool!! Live I’m minnesota. Are they dangerous to us as I have small children?

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    I wouldn’t let them handle these bugs, but having giant water bugs around isn’t any real threat to their safety.

  • Puff-dragon

    My kids found one in our pool. We live in Ste Anne, Manitoba near Winnipeg. About 3 inches long. It is the middle of May. ICK!!

  • tlynn

    Holy fuck, I am from Ontario, Canada. We were just unwinterizing our pool today and my dad found this bug. Everywhere on the internet it says it’s from Mexico or Alabama…so mainly hot places. WTF is it doing up here! I hate bugs.

  • blueeyedgirl

    This was our first time seeing one. Everyone but my middle sister (she loooveesss bugs) freaked out. Are they dangerous to humans?

  • Brian

    I just found mine in the walmart parking lot around 220am ..i was like wtf is this?? Freaked me out.. Took a few pics n found it here.to

  • Dan

    Found one of these flying around the shop at work. This was in mid September.

  • chue

    Hey, I’m in Minnesota, and one of these came dropping from the sky when I got off work at 10pm. it was huge. I also seen these earlier at my College Campus. Century.

  • beadladee1

    in alabama and found one tonight on my deck…creepy!

  • Me

    My second time seeing this gigantic bug in Grand Cayman. They are so ugly, look like they could really hurt you. Think I would fall over if I ever see it in flight.

  • tomboy4402

    i found 1 inside walmart!!! everyone was taking pics of.it