Currently viewing the category: "Toe Biters and other Aquatic True Bugs"

Subject:  UFI – Unidentified Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Park County, Colorado 9300 feet
Date: 10/09/2017
Time: 05:40 PM EDT
I was draining our water feature yesterday and noticed this bug swimming underwater.  Its hind legs were really long, making it a good swimmer.  I fished it out of the pond and it flew away pretty quickly.  Bright green between the eyes.
Can you ID it?  None of the sources I’ve looked at seem to have it.  Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Brad Klafehn


Dear Brad,
As its name implies, this Backswimmer in the family Notonectidae swims on its back, with its ventral surface up.  Your individual looks like the one in this BugGuide posting from a high elevation in California that is identified as
Notonecta kirbyi.  It is also reported from Colorado according to BugGuide’s data.  As you observed, Backswimmers can also fly quite proficiently, which serves them well should the pond they are hunting in dry out.  Backswimmers are also called Water Bees or Water Wasps, according to BugGuide, because of their painful bite, a fact many swimmers and waders can confirm.

Subject:  What is it?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central California
Date: 10/05/2017
Time: 11:18 PM EDT
We found this in the yard…never seen it before
How you want your letter signed:  Casey


Dear Casey,
This is an aquatic predator known as a Giant Water Bug or Toe-Biter, and as its name implies, the painful bite inflicted on countless waders and swimmers through the years has resulted in its very descriptive common name.  Though aquatic, they are also capable of flying from pond to pond, and they are attracted to lights, leading to yet another common name, Electric Light Bug.

Subject:  What is THIS?
Geographic location of the bug:  Buenos Aires
Date: 09/19/2017
Time: 08:58 AM EDT
I want to know what is this and if its dangerous . Its almost 15cm long
How you want your letter signed:  Natalia


Dear Natalia,
This is a predatory Giant Water Bug, commonly called a Toe-Biter in North America.  Though it is not considered dangerous, the common name Toe-Biter is a reference to the number of waders who have accidentally stepped on a Giant Water Bug in the shallows and the painful bite that resulted.

Subject:  Found this at work
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern lower peninsula Michigan
Date: 09/01/2017
Time: 07:20 AM EDT
Found this at work we’ve been trying to figure out what it is it’s about3.5″-4″ inches long and an inch wide
How you want your letter signed:  Nathan Hillis


Dear Nathan,
The Toe-Biter or Giant Water Bug is one of our most common insect identification requests.

Subject: Bugs found in convenience stores
Location: Edmonton alberta
August 9, 2017 5:24 pm
I work in different convenience stores and i come across these bug quite a lot. I know the pictures are not that great but i have to try and be discret while taking them. The bugs are about 10 mm long. I have never seen one alive! They are always dead at the bottom of the candy boxes.
Signature: Catherine

Alleged Dead Water Boatmen in Candy Box

Dear Catherine,
We can’t be certain, but these sure look like Water Boatmen to us.  See this BugGuide posting for comparison.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults fly to lights, sometimes in great numbers.”  Are you near a pond or other body of water?  Are these boxes stored near powerful lights that might be attracting them?  Water Boatmen are aquatic insects, but they are able to fly from pond to pond.

Dead Water Boatmen in Candy Box

Thanks for getting back to me!!

The body look similar but the legs seems wrong.
Next time i come across them, i will take a better picture! And count the legs!!!
Talk in a bit!

Update:  August 15, 2017
I was able to take better pictures today!!

Water Boatman

Hi Catherine,
Thanks for taking better images.  They confirm our original identification that these are Water Boatmen, aquatic true bugs that also fly and are sometimes attracted to lights in great numbers.  See the images on this BugGuide posting for comparison.

Water Boatman

Subject: Mantid in pond water
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
August 1, 2017 10:09 am
Hello! All summer here in Jacksonville, FL, from May to August so far, I’ve been finding small (2-3″) black insects that look like skinny praying mantises in my green, algae-filled pond. There are no fish, just various kinds of water bugs and tadpoles.
I removed the first couple, thinking they had blown in with the wind, but I keep finding more, every few days. They seem quite at home underwater, swimming around, and if I or my dog’s nose get too close, they calmly dive and swim out of sight.
I’ve been quite baffled. I used to keep fat green praying mantises as pets in southern Georgia as a kid, and got used to finding their egg cases attached to sticks. I couldn’t fathom mantises breeding and/or living underwater…. or laying eggs in water, perhaps going through a nymph phase of some kind, then developing into what you see in the pictures.
Hope you can help me understand what I’ve got, and advise me on whether I should be removing them to the bushes on sight, or leaving them to their business!
Signature: John in NE Florida

Water Scorpion

Dear John,
Though it resembles a Mantid, this Water Scorpion is actually an unrelated True Bug.  Adult Water Scorpions have wings so they can fly from pond to pond.  Handle with caution.  Water Scorpions are reported to have a painful bite.