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Facts and Info About Water Bugs in Texas 

You might come across any number of aquatic insects in Texas, including the largest one in the world. The Giant Water Bug is the most common water bug found in the Lone Star state. Not only is it found in the wild, but this insect can also thrive in suburban areas and neighborhoods.

Facts and Info about water bugs in Texas

The Common Giant Water Bug of Texas

The common Giant Water Bug can be found throughout the state of Texas and thrives in wetland habitats. It is also frequently found in suburban areas, living in ditches, pools, and fountains. While they are not a threat to people, they do have a painful bite. To other animals, these insects are ferocious and quick hunters.

The Giant Water Bug found in Texas comes from the Belostomatidae family. The scientific name for this large insect is Lethocerus. There are a few common nicknames that the Giant Texas Water Bug is called.

These include electric light bugs, water bugs, and toe biters. The nickname toe biter comes from the painful bite that these large insects can inflict on people. This typically happens when people wade through shallow areas of water where these bugs live.

Appearance

Giant Water Bug (Belostoma sp.)
Giant Water Bug (Belostoma sp.) | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Giant Water Bugs found in Texas can reach up to four inches long and are one of the largest insects you will find in the state. They have dark brown or grayish coloring, which is meant to blend in with the dead leaves commonly found in their habitats.

Some may appear to be green-brown instead. Giant water bugs have oval-shaped bodies and beak-like pinchers for hunting prey. These insects also have large wings that they frequently use to fly, when not exploring wetlands, ponds, and riverbanks.

Even though the Giant Water Bug is not the biggest insect found around the globe, it is the biggest aquatic insect. As adults, these water bugs will not have lungs, but instead, use small holes called spiracles for breathing. These creatures are also quite fast, making them versatile hunters with a range of prey to take on.

Habitat

giant water bug
CREDIT; GlacierNPS via flikr.com

The Giant Water Bug is commonly found in most of the state of Texas. They stay in wetlands and are frequently discovered in ponds, creeks, and river beds.

Of course, these insects can thrive near any source of water and can be found in neighborhood and suburban areas. The Giant Water Bug can live in fountains, pools, wells, and more. While this bug will live in water sources, they are also drawn to light and can be found hanging out on porches and patios at night.

This insect is also found in other Southern states in America, as well as in parts of Asia and South America. Water bugs are a common type of insect that appears in multiple countries around the globe.

Diet

Giant bug
Giant Water Bug – Lethocerus species, Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, Armenia, Belize | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The Giant Water Bug is a ferocious hunter, which means it has a vast food source. These bugs will eat other insects, small fish, tadpoles, frogs, and small birds.

As adults, these water bugs have even been known to go after turtles, ducks, and large birds. The Giant Water bugs that are found in Texas are one of the most ferocious hunters of any other insect in the state. Since these creatures eat other bugs, some people think they can be beneficial for controlling certain pests.

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The Giant Water Bug diet consists of:

  • Fish
  • Other aquatic bugs
  • Ducks
  • Small birds
  • Turtles

Possible Benefits

Giant Water Bugs in Texas are not thought to be a pest species for humans, and some people consider them to be beneficial in certain aspects. These insects eat mosquitoes, in larvae and adult form, and because they are such vicious hunters they can greatly reduce mosquito populations. They can be a great way to get rid of a mosquito infestation in ponds, but they do not offer any other benefits for people.

Possible Damage

When it comes to hunting mosquitos, Giant Water Bugs can be just as harmful as helpful. They are sure to get rid of annoying mosquitos but will hunt anything else they feel like too.

They can have drastic impacts on fish populations in your pond, and may even go after ducks or turtles. Giant Water Bugs can be quite damaging to your pond. Not to mention, they have a painful bite, and they are not afraid to use it if you get too close.

They’re toe biters

As we mentioned above, the Giant Water Bug has earned the nickname toe biter because of the somewhat painful bite they have been known to inflict on people. This commonly happens when people wade through shallow bodies of water or handle water bugs that they come across. Even though this bite will not cause any serious harm, you can expect it to hurt.

These creatures are most likely to end up being pets and children who get too close. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to a water bug bite, however, so if this does happen to you then keep a close eye on it. You should seek out medical attention if you are worried about any bites from these insects.

Fun Facts About the Giant Water Bug

There are a few fun facts about the Giant Water Bug that not everyone is aware of.

Giant water bug with eggs on his back
Giant Water Bug with eggs on his back | image by Matthew Robinson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • The males of this species carry the eggs.
  • In Asia, water bugs are served as a delicacy.
  • They can store oxygen, allowing them to breathe while underwater.
  • These bugs are incredibly fast in the water, which is why they are such good hunters.
  • They will go after prey four times bigger than them.
  • It often latches onto people, and may even act like it is dead before finally biting.
  • Water bugs are often mistaken for cockroaches.
  • Despite how some Texans might feel, the Giant Water Bug is not considered a pest.

Conclusion

The Giant Water Bug can be commonly seen throughout Texas. This vicious hunter is no threat to humans, but they do have a painful bite.

They have been known to take on prey animals much larger than them and may cause damage to ponds by overhunting. Despite some Texans considering the Giant Water Bug a nuisance, it is not a pest species.

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