Subject: Identify an insect
Location: Kotu Beach Hotel, The Gambia
December 9, 2012 5:07 am
I found this bug near the swimming pool of the hotel I was staying in at Kotu. It was found at about 0600hrs in the morning.The medication aerosol was used for size comparison, the bug measured 6 – 7cm long and 2.25cm wide.
Signature: Ed Owen

Giant Water Bug

Dear Ed,
This is a Giant Water Bug in the family Belestomatidae, and it is an aquatic predator that is capable of flying from one body of water to another.  Perhaps it was attracted to the hotel pool, or perhaps it was attracted to the hotel lights.  Giant Water Bugs are the largest True Bugs in the world.  They have mouthparts that are designed for piercing the body of their prey and sucking fluids.  Though they do not prey upon humans, they will bite if provoked, threatened or carelessly handled.  In North America they are commonly called Toe-Biters because they will produce a painful bite if they are accidentally stepped on by swimmers or waders.  They are also called Electric Light Bugs because they are frequently attracted to lights, sometimes in great numbers.  Giant Water Bugs are found in many parts of the world.

Location: Africa

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