Male Giant Water Bug Tends to eggs as female eats

February 24, 2010
Giant Water Bugs
Hi, WTB,
I’ve been going through photos from last summer and I thought that you might be interested in some Giant Water Bug images that have a little more detail (including particulate gunk in the water — sorry for that) than is sometimes seen in field photographs.
The first image gives an idea of the male behavior of, what seems to be, aerating/hydrating (and, perhaps, cleansing?) the eggs by rapidly moving his back in and out of the water.

Male Giant Water Bug with Eggs

The second shot shows a submerged male with all of the eggs, and only the eggs, above the surface.

Male Giant Water Bug with Eggs

The third photo is of a completely submerged male and eggs.  You just can see the very tip of his backside breaking the surface.

Male Giant Water Bug with Eggs

The final shot is of a, presumably, female — totally submerged — who is feeding “up” on the food chain.
Early July, foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, southern Arizona, about 4,400 ft.
Denny Schreffler

Giant Water bug with Prey

Dear Denny,
You are continuing a pattern of excellence with both your photos and your verbal descriptions.  These documentations of a Male Giant Water Bug in the genus Abedus, probably Abedus herberti which BugGuide reports is found in Arizona, are positively spectacular.  The focus and detail are superb, and the observational information on the aeration/hydrating/cleaning behavior of the male with the eggs is a wonderful addition.  The Giant Water Bugs in the genera Abedus and Belestoma are interesting in that the female cements the eggs to the back of the male after mating, and the male has the responsibility of protecting the eggs, though once the eggs hatch, he is freed of his duties.  Thanks so much for including the information that the photos were taken in July, because so often our readers submit images that are many years old and they fail to include such relevant information.  Though your photos are quite detailed, you neglected to indicate what prey was captured in the Food Chain image, other than that it is up the food chain.  Is it possible to provide that information?

I don’t know what fleshy little vertebrate morsel she is eating — I came upon her after she already had been through the carry out line — but it probably tastes like chicken.
Thanks for the nice comments.
Denny Schreffler

Eric Eaton Agrees with identification
Hi, Daniel:
The giant water bugs from Denny here in Arizona are the species Abedus herberti.

3 thoughts on “Male Giant Water Bug Tends to eggs as female eats”

  1. Bug eggs for breakfast:
    in addition to the fact that Belastomatids are eaten in several parts of the world [not just in Southeast Asia], their eggs were considered gourmet treats by the Aztecs and possibly other groups. (More often it was the eggs of Backswimmers and Water Boatmen that were collected, but I’m certain that these would be just as good.)


  2. I seen one here where I stay in Miami Florida Hialeah I seen it but dicide it to kill it but I seen some pictures n is the same I didn’t touch it but I seen what can do to your hands


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