Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Face only a Mother could Love ...

The Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus), a.k.a. "Toe Biter" or "Swamp Crab" (not ... these arthropods are insects, in fact, true bugs, order Hemiptera).

Giant Water Bugs live in slow moving water such as ponds and swamps. With the profile and color of their wings resembling the dead leaves often found in their preferred habitat these insects are difficult to spot despite their size (this specimen was about three inches long). They are often found on sidewalks in early spring when they are attracted to street lights as they fly at night in search of new ponds and mates.

A couple of close ups. These aquatic predators are large enough to capture tadpoles, small fish and frogs with their barb-tipped front legs. Like all true bugs they have a proboscis with which they inject an enzyme to liquefy the insides of their prey, and (speaking from experience) can deliver a painful bite if mishandled.