Photo by Melody

Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus)

Order: Hemiptera (he-MIP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Belostomatidae
Genus: Lethocerus
Species: americanus (am-er-ih-KAY-nus) (Info)


1 positive
4 neutrals
1 negative


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Miami, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Brighton, Michigan
Buckley, Michigan
Dunkirk, New York
Cavalier, North Dakota
Fort Worth, Texas
Lampasas, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spokane, Washington

By GD_Rankin
Thumbnail #1 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by GD_Rankin

By GD_Rankin

Thumbnail #2 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by GD_Rankin

By GD_Rankin

Thumbnail #3 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by GD_Rankin

By Livngud

Thumbnail #4 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by Livngud

By fisherwink

Thumbnail #5 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by fisherwink

By fisherwink

Thumbnail #6 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by fisherwink

By fisherwink

Thumbnail #7 of Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) by fisherwink

There are a total of 11 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Member Notes:

Neutral GD_Rankin On Aug 29, 2006, GD_Rankin from San Antonio, TX
(Zone 9a) wrote:

Ok I'm a Texan through and through . . . I was raised a country boy and I thought I'd seen and messed with about every type of critter that flies, crawls, slithers and swims in these parts . . . However, I've never seen one of these before or since.

It was crawling around in my paint shop one night and when I flipped on the light he caught my eye. So I grabbed my camera as he was looking to hide inside an empty food can on a shelf. I dumped him out on the workbench to get a better photo of him. Obviously he was not too pleased about that action.

Here's what says about these guys . . .

Other Common Names
Electric Light Bug
Toe Biter
Fish Killer

very large: adult up to 65 mm

body elongate; front legs raptorial, twice as thick as other legs, usually held in front of head, and used for grasping prey; middle and hind legs point toward rear and are used for swimming; forewings brown, leathery, held flat against abdomen

forewings cover all of abdomen except for two tube-like appendages at posterior end that function in breathing atmospheric air which is then stored in a bubble beneath the wings while swimming underwater

most of North America

ponds and shallow margins of lakes containing submerged or emergent vegetation

spring through fall

nymphs and adults eat aquatic arthropods, snails, small fish, salamanders, frog and toad tadpoles and adults

Life Cycle
During spring and early summer, eggs are laid near or in water attached to aquatic plants, stones, leaves or rotting branches. The eggs are brownish-gray, 4-5 mm long, laid in rows. Usually 100 are found in each group, hatching in about 2 weeks. The nymphs look very similar to adults but lack wings and are much smaller; they molt 5 times before becoming adults.

Overwinters as an adult in mud at bottom of pond or lake margin.

May bite if handled. Adults are attracted to light and are sometimes found on the ground under streetlights.

Negative ashleysmart On May 28, 2009, ashleysmart from moncton
Canada wrote:

umm yeah i live in moncton ,new brunswick and we have one of these bugs , we have been trying to fiure out what it was b/c no one has ever seen one and thats exacty what it was! , this was about may 10th , it was in a car ! and whan we flicked it out side it looked like it was hummping the ground ,not to sure what to do so if someone could tell that would be awsome

Positive KrishnaScott On Aug 27, 2009, KrishnaScott from Spokane, WA wrote:

I live in Spokane, Washington and my friend just found a giant water bug. He was dead when she found him and is keeping him for positive identification from a professional. I have never seen this bug before and as far as I have read they are not native to this side of the country. Maybe they are migrating this way. What a nasty little bugger!!!

Neutral trippindazey79 On Sep 20, 2009, trippindazey79 from Buckley, MI wrote:

We found this bug today as we were taking down our pool for the summer. The pool water was not chlorinated so it got a bit pond-like and the bug was living inside it. We also found one about a year ago, dead, in the spring. Nastiest bug I have ever seen, and HUGE for around here.

Neutral ironworker25 On Mar 31, 2012, ironworker25 from Brighton, MI
(Zone 5b) wrote:

I would have given this thing a negative rating but, I know it has a purpose other than shocking me every time I see one! We have several small marshes around here and one of these pops up almost every year. I'm not afraid of most insects but, I have to admit, this one bothers me. Nasty looking creature...and until I saw these photos, I had no idea of the beak it has. I've had to terminate 4-5 that came in the garage. They're too big to live with me and they remind me of a huge roach! Killed one a week ago and that is why I stopped here to learn more about them. Almost sorry I did now that I know they bite too! On a positive note...they just lay there out of water. You leave it alone and it will leave you alone.

Neutral Mattsi3 On Jun 14, 2012, Mattsi3 from Dieppe
Canada wrote:

Accidently stepped on one of these late at night in Dieppe New Brunswick. Had no idea what it was. The guy who stepped on it, thought he stepped on his flash light due to the size of it. We took a picture of it which I added to the data base.

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