Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Giant Water Bugs (Hemiptera: Prosorrhyncha Belostomatidae)

  • Marta Goula
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_1099

These aquatic insects are also known as giant fish killers, electric light bugs, and toe biters. They are predators of insects and other small organisms up to the size of tadpoles, small water birds or even fish, and occasionally are known to inflict injury to humans. In humans, a belostomatid bite produces a painful burning sensation that lasts several hours.


Belostomatidae are large-sized (up to about 110 mm), ovoid to elongate aquatic bugs. They are brownish, dorsoventrally flattened while ventrally convex. The head extends triangularly in front of the large eyes. They have a stout syringe-like rostrum or beak, which is the result of the pair of mandibles and the two pairs of maxillae evolved in long piercing stylets. The beak is three segmented. A pair of short, 4-segmented antennae are concealed in grooves beneath the head. Segments 2 and 3 have lateral projections. Belostomatidae possess a pair of large compound eyes, but lack ocelli. The head does not overlap the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Goula
    • 1
  1. 1.Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain