Order: Hemiptera. Family: Belostomatidae.
Habitat: Occur worldwide, with most of the species in North America, South America, Northern Australia and East Asia. Found in freshwater streams and ponds.
Diet: Carnivores, fierce aquatic predators of crustaceans, fish and amphibians. Some even feed on baby turtles and water snakes.
Water bugs lie at the bottom of the water, hidden beneath flotsam, waiting for prey to come close. When they strike, they inject powerful digestive saliva into the victim and suck out the liquefied remains. Because of this saliva, a water bug's bit is considered one of the most painful bites that can be inflicted by an insect.
Occasionally when encountered by a larger predator, such as a human, they have been known to "play dead" and emit a fluid from their anus. Due to this they are assumed dead by humans only to later "come alive" with painful results.
Use by humans: Popular food in Thailand.
University of California Dermatology Online, http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4cb2q8wg
University of Florida
Panama Canal Museum Collection at the University of Florida
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