Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
A giant water bug, Lethocerus sp. Photo by Drees.
Click on image to enlarge
A giant water bug,
Lethocerus sp.
(Hemiptera: Belastomatidae).
 Photo by Drees.

Common Name: Waterbug
Scientific Name: Lethocerus sp.
Order: Hemiptera

Description: Adults can be over 2 inches long, flattened and oval in shape and are basically a green-brown in color. The front legs are adapted to capture and hold prey. The front wings have a leathery base; the outer wings areas are more membranous with well defined veins. The abdomen ends in a tube or rod shaped structure that is used for breathing air while below the surface. The second two pairs of legs are used for swimming and have a series of hairs that helps with swimming.

Thewater scorpions (Hemiptera: Nepidae), are also large long legged aquatic predators. They superficially resemble praying mantids (Mantodea), having more slender, elongated bodies and longer breathing tubes.

Life Cycle: Simple metamorphosis with egg, nymph and adult stages. Females may deposit up to 100 eggs or more on the back of the males. Males stroke water over the eggs with their legs and this behavior seems to assist the success of hatching of the offspring. Aquatic immature stages remain in the water often concealed among plants.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Giant water bugs develop in ponds, pools, slow ditches and similar habitats with slow moving water. They are especially found among aquatic vegetation. Adults fly well and are attracted to lights which gives them the common name "electric light bugs". They capture and hold their prey with their front legs, using their mouthparts to drink body fluids from their prey.

Pest Status: Not considered a pest, but can inflict a painful bite if handled improperly.

Management: None, not considered a pest.

For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.

Literature: McCafferty 1981

From the book:
Field Guide to Texas Insects,
Drees, B.M. and John Jackman,
Copyright 1999
Gulf Publishing Company,
Houston, Texas

A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, Bastiaan M. Drees and John A. Jackman.
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