Hi, Bug Man –
Last summer, we took a family vacation to Colorado. My daughter, a budding entomologist through 4-H, was excited about looking for any unusual insects that we don’t see in Indiana. Low and behold, we found just that. After getting them home in one piece, we are unable to identify either one. The first photo is some kind of water bug we found in a fountain in Boulder. We didn’t think it was a giant water bug nymph because the wings look developed. It’s about an inch an a quarter long. The second photo of the beetle has a story. We found this guy on top of our car after lunch in Colorado Springs. He went into a zip lock bag with another colorful beetle find. An hour later, we checked on our catch, only to find out that this beetle had eaten the other – so, we know it’s predaceous. The photo isn’t great, but the distinguishing features are the red abdomen with two symmetrical black spots. It’s about 5/8 of an inch long.
Your Water Bug is in the genus Belostoma, and they are sometimes called the Ferocious Water Bugs. The other photo is not detailed enough to be able to quickly identify it. We suspect it might be a species of Checkered Beetle in the family Cleridae, but not one we recognize. Eric Eaton provided this information: “The checkered beetle with the toe biter is indeed a checkered beetle, family Cleridae. Many kinds of checkered beetles are valuable predators of bark beetles.”
Update: May 31, 2016
Thanks to a comment that just arrived, we can provide a link to the Handsome Yucca Beetle, a species of Checkered Beetle, on BugGuide.