Crawling – Biting – Swimming
Most species are at least 0.8 inches long, although smaller species, down to 0.35 inch also exist. The largest are members of the genus Lethocerus, which can exceed 4.5 inches and nearly reach the length of some of the largest beetles in the world.
Brown oval body.
Water bugs are aggressive predators which stalk, capture, and feed on aquatic invertebrates, snails, crustaceans, fish, and amphibians. The largest species have also been found to capture and feed on baby turtles and water snakes.
Water bugs get their name because they prefer to spend their time in the water, in a quiet pond or lake. They can hold their breath for a very long time and often lie motionless at the bottom of a body of water, attached to various objects, where they wait for prey to come near. They then strike, injecting a powerful digestive saliva with their rostrum. Although their bite is excruciatingly painful, it is of no medical significance. Occasionally, when encountered by a larger predator, such as a human, they have been known to “play dead” and most species can emit a smelly fluid from their anus. Due to this, they are assumed dead by humans only to later “come alive” with painful results.
The term water bug is applied to a wide variety of insects. The giant water bug is often most confused with cockroaches. Some species of roach can survive in water, but they prefer to be on land.
Tips for Control
Water bugs are not considered pests. They can bite if they are handled. They rarely enter homes and prefer to eat other insects and creatures in the water rather than scavenge like cockroaches.