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Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Water Bug.

 Updated: 5/18/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The mammoth Giant Water Bug looks fierce for good reason. The amphibious insect can bite and pinch prey and anything that threatens it.



This is a large insect species with equally large and very noticeable foreleg pincers. They are used to catch underwater prey like small fish, frogs and sometimes snakes. Its body is mostly flat and oval shaped with dark brown, "dead leaf" coloring. The Giant Water Bug is known to play dead in order to escape predators. It is also able to deliver a painful bite when disturbed or threatened by people (it carries the the nickname of "Toe-biter"). Unsuspecting swimmers may get a toe pinched by one if they step too closely.

They make their homes at the bottom of muddy waters or surrounding vegetation. They are drawn to light sources at night and, therefore, often find themselves in or around backyard pools. Females may aggressively defend their eggs, which they lay at the edge of waterlines. Their hairy legs help them swim though they can often be found in mud, or hiding at the bottom of ponds.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Belostomatidae
          Genus: Lethocerus
            Species: americanus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Lethocerus americanus
Other Name(s): Toe-biter; Electric Light Bug
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 40mm to 62mm (1.56in to 2.42in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black
Descriptors: pincers, claws, water, pool
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.