Currently viewing the category: "Toe Biters and other Aquatic True Bugs"
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Subject: Trying to identify bug in pool
Location: Martinique
November 22, 2014 10:00 am
Can you help identify what this is please ?
I found it swimming in our pool after a few days of heavy rains.
Signature: Matthew

Backswimmers

Backswimmers

Dear Matthew,
These aquatic true bugs are Backswimmers in the family Notonectidae.  According to BugGuide they are:  “Aquatic bugs that often swim upside-down. When resting at the surface, body is typically tilted with the head downward”
and they “Prey on other aquatic insects and sometimes on small vertebrates.”  Backswimmers can fly, which enables them to seek a new home if their pond dries out.  We don’t know what would have caused them to relocate to your pool after the rains.

Daniel,
Thank you very much for your reply.
Fantastic info. My son has taken matters into his own hands and relocated them to another improvised pool. They’re doing well.
Can they fly far ? Perhaps the winds carried them a little further than normal.
Also, my pool is a salt based pool rather than chlorine, would that allow them to survive better than in the latter ?

Dear Matthew,
Since Backswimmers are predators, they will not remain in a body of water that does not provide a food supply.  Insects will not live in a chlorinated pool, but many insects will fall into the water.  Backswimmers are air breathers, and if the chlorine is not strong, we imagine they can survive in a chlorinated pool.  We also believe there are some species that can inhabit brackish water, which is a blend of fresh and salt water.  They can fly considerable distances.

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Toe-Biter

Toe-Biter

Subject: Huge Canadian Bug
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
October 9, 2014 5:18 pm
Hi!
I was out hunting in the woods today and accidentally stepped on this huge bug (God bless)! I’m very curious as to what it was. The current temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius as we’re right into the fall season.
Signature: Logan

Giant Water Bug

Giant Water Bug

Dear Logan,
This impressive creature is a Giant Water Bug or Toe-Biter.  Toe-Biters are aquatic predators that can also fly, so they can move from pond to pond or seek a new watery habitat if their home dries out.

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Subject: BUG ID
Location: Rochester, NY
September 7, 2014 6:14 pm
Can you ID this bug which was found in our garage. Runs fast. Possibly soldier bug ?
Thank you,
Veronica
Signature: Veronica

True Bug, but which one???

Distorted image of Toe-Biter

Dear Veronica,
We wish your image had more detail.  We are relatively confident that this is a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera, but at this time, we cannot provide any additional information.  It most closely resembles the Narrow Stink Bugs in the genus Mecidea that are pictured on BugGuide, but we do not believe that is a correct identification, especially as there are no sightings in the northeast.  Can you please tell us how large this insect was and also send additional images if you have any.  Meanwhile, we are going to seek a second opinion from Eric Eaton.

Eric Eaton provides an obvious ID
Daniel:
Kinda funny that it *ran* fast considering this is actually an aquatic insect that *swims* fast.  LOL!  This is a giant water bug in the genus Belostoma, family Belostomatidae.  They fly well and are sometimes attracted to lights at night.  Well, you know that already, and know they are also called “toe-biters.”
Eric

Interesting Eric.  We are no strangers to Toe-Biter identifications, and at first we thought this might be a Water Scorpion.  The image appears to be distorted, and that threw us off, combined with the “runs fast” comment.

Comment
This reminds me quite a bit of a Belostomatid, but it looks like a somewhat stretched picture. If you vertically compress the picture a little bit, it’s easier to see. Then again, it could be something completely different! I look forward to hearing what Mr Eaton says. The true bugs are my favorite group to work with, there’s always surprises.
sccabrian

Dear sccabrian,
You are correct.  See Eric’s response and our reply.

Hemipteran Corrected Perspective

Hemipteran Corrected Perspective

Ed. Note:  We feel really stupid because our first thought was aquatic bug, but it just did not look right.  We never suspected altered perspective.  Of the Toe-Biters in the genus Belostoma, BugGuide states much of fascination, including “overwinters as an adult; mating and egg laying occurs in late spring or early summer” and “Females cement their eggs to the backs of males, who swim with the eggs attached, providing aeration and protection until the eggs hatch.”  This is one of the few examples in the Insect Class where the presence of the male improves the chances of survival of the young, AKA paternal behavior.  We believe the male Sexton Beetles contribute to the care of the larvae.

Thank you Daniel. Unfortunately we have no other images. We think he is about an inch long +/- a bit. I know we are horrid
describers !

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Subject: Large African Flying Beetle
Location: Burkina Faso (West Africa)
June 28, 2014 11:38 am
Hey Sir, I am a Marine stationed out here in Africa and saw the weirdest looking beetle outside my house. I have never seen anything like it on discovery channel. The things was huge and aggressive. Not only did it have huge claws to grab stuff with but it fly’s also! It wasn’t even scared of me it actually tried to attack me. I didn’t squish the monster he took off and caught a moth in flight. Hopefully you can help me identify this guy.
Signature: Zachary Staman

Giant Water Bugs

Giant Water Bugs

Hi Zachary,
It is easy to mistake this Giant Water Bug in the family Belostomatidae for a beetle, but closer inspection will reveal that instead of mandibles adapted to chewing like the beetles, the Giant Water Bug has a mouth designed to pierce and suck fluids from its prey, consistent with the mouths of Heteropterans, the True Bugs.  Giant Water Bugs from North America are often called Toe-Biters because unwary waders have frequently received a painful bite if they step on one of these aquatic predators, or otherwise carelessly handle them.  

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Subject: Would like to be informed what this bug is ?
Location: Edmonton Alberta
June 12, 2014 11:36 am
I live in Edmonton Alberta and on a job site in the dirt we found this bug we are all very curious what it is ??
Signature: Thanks bug man !

Giant Water Bug

Giant Water Bug

While we cannot make out details, we are quite certain that this is a Giant Water Bug in the family Belostomatidae.

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Subject: Large Beetle I have never seen before
Location: North Western Pennsylvania
May 28, 2014 6:17 am
Bugman the photos I have attached are of a large beetle that I have never encountered. Living on a farm in North western Pennsylvania we see a multitude of insects but nobody in our area has seen on of these, I am hoping you can identify it. The beetle is approx. 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. It flew into the side of our swimming pool and sounded like a baseball it hit so hard. It appears to have multiple sets of wings and looks even larger when in flight. Unfortunately its navigation error ended it’s life.
Signature: Mark

Toe-Biter

Toe-Biter

Hi Mark,
This is not a Beetle, but rather, a Giant Water Bug, commonly called a Toe-Biter.  Giant Water Bugs are aquatic predators that are capable of flying from pond to pond to swimming pool.  The bite of a Toe-Biter is reported to be quite painful, but not dangerous to humans.

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