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water bug

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Certain species of water bugs produce painful bites when handled.


The name "water bug" refers to a member of the suborder of insects known as Nepomorpha. This group of insects consists of more than 2000 species of true insects found worldwide, except in polar regions. Most species live in freshwater habitats. They are prolific predators and feed on other insects. Larger species may also prey on fish and amphibians in the water.

Types, types and scientific names of water bugs

Insects in the Infraorder Nepomorpha are often called water bugs. There are more than 2,000 species of insects in this group. They are often called "true water bugs" to distinguish them from other insects with the same nickname, such as oriental cockroaches. This group is sometimes called Cryptocerata, which means "hidden corner". This means that their antennae have become smaller and weaker. Another common nickname for this group of insects is "toe-biters." This refers to their tendency to deliver painful (but non-venomous) bites on the toes of unsuspecting human feet.

Toe biters belong to the order Hemiptera. This is a type of insect commonly known as a true bug. There are more than 80,000 species of voles. Some of the most popular members of this group include aphids, leafhoppers, bedbugs, assassin bugs, and shield bugs. Most true insects have sucking and piercing mouthparts.

True water bugs are found in aquatic habitats all over the world except polar regions. They are grouped into seven superfamilies as follows:

  1. Nepoidea – giant water bug
  2. Corixoidea – water gondolier
  3. Ochteroidea – toad and velvet beetles
  4. Skateboard
  5. Naucoroidea – wriggling water bug
  6. Notonectoidea – Back swimmer
  7. Pleoidea – Dwarf Backswimmer
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Appearance: How to Identify Water Bugs

Water Bug-1
With the exception of a few species, most water bugs have their first pair of legs modified to grab prey.

©iStock.com/Eric Kukulowicz

Water bugs have flat, elongated bodies with flattened legs. They usually have two large compound eyes. However, they lack ocelli (a simple eye), a feature common to many other insects in the suborder Heteroptera to which they belong.

Water bugs have short antennae that fit into grooves behind their eyes. Although they are aquatic animals, most adults cannot breathe underwater. Instead, they have a retractable snorkel that extends to the surface for air.

With the exception of a few species, most water bugs have their first pair of legs modified to grab prey. Like other true insects, all insects in this group have sucking and piercing mouthparts. They catch their prey with their forelimbs and inject them with powerful saliva, immobilizing them.

Due to the wide variety of species, the body size of insects in this family varies greatly. Giant water bugs are the largest species of this group, reaching lengths of 2-4 inches. The water scorpion is another large species in this group and can be anywhere from 0.6 to 1.8 inches in length. Members of the Naucoridae family are significantly smaller, typically about 0.2-0.8 inches long. They are usually tan to dark brown in color. In most species, the wing pads are visible from their backs. However, most species are flightless.

Habitat: Where to Find Water Bugs

Toe biters are found all over the world except in polar regions where they cannot thrive due to the extreme cold. Most species in this suborder are aquatic. They usually live in freshwater habitats. However, some members, such as species in the superfamily Ochteroidea, live only near water rather than in it. Despite being aquatic animals, most adults in this group cannot breathe underwater. They tend to use snorkels that can be extended to the surface and retracted when not in use.

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Diet: What Do Water Bugs Eat?

Many insects in the Nepomorpha group are predators of other invertebrates. They mainly prey on other insects. However, larger ones, such as giant water bugs and water scorpions, can prey on small fish and amphibians. Many species are omnivorous, while some of them feed on plants.

Like all true insects, their mouthparts form a rostrum for piercing food sources and sucking fluids from them. Some groups, such as the Corixidae, can chew their food before sucking on the pulp. In some species, the snout is a barbed mouthpart that they use to deliver painful stings.

What eats water bugs?

Water bugs have several predators. This includes birds, fish, and frogs (especially bullfrogs and wasps. Certain species, especially toe-biters, are a delicacy in South and Southeast Asia. Water bugs have a variety of defense mechanisms against predators. For example, a certain Some species have barbed mouthparts that make for a painful bite when disturbed. Some species also emit a foul smell to repel predators. The flat, leafy appearance also serves as excellent camouflage.

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Although water bugs look like cockroaches, they are not members of the same family. True water bugs are aquatic insects that live in or near water. Cockroaches are household pests that can survive without water. A key distinguishing feature between the two insects is the absence of long antennae in water bugs. Additionally, most water bugs have barbed mouthparts that they use to protect themselves if threatened.

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Most water bugs are not dangerous to humans. However, some species, such as giant water bugs and water scorpions, have a proboscis that can deliver pain similar to a bee sting. Although the sting is painful, it is not harmful to the human body.

Water bugs have a long, flat body. They look like cockroaches, but are usually dark brown. Also, unlike cockroaches, they do not have long antennae and are mostly flightless. They are found in or near bodies of water.