Don’t Go Chasing Water Bugs | Deep Look

Giant water bugs — aka “toe-biters” — pack one of the most painful bites of any insect. But they make the best dads ever. Rather than leaving the survival of his eggs to chance, dad will haul them around piggyback style for weeks, until they hatch right off his back. SUBSCRIBE to Deep Look!… Please join our community on Patreon! DEEP LOOK is an ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small. — This summer, as you cool your bare feet in a stream somewhere in California – or almost anywhere in the world, really – you might feel a painful nip. The menacing culprit: a giant water bug. Lurking just below the surface of that flowing creek or refreshing pond, these bugs resemble enormous aquatic ticks, with googly eyes and praying mantis arms. And although they won’t seek you out for an attack, they also won’t hesitate to take a defensive bite if you get too close, earning them the nickname “toe-biters.” They puncture the skin with dagger-like mouth parts and have a bite known as one of the most painful of any insect – sharp and stinging like a wasp’s. You may not even get a chance to spot the offending insect before it dashes off, but you’ll undoubtedly be left with an indelible impression. And a swollen, throbbing toe. — What do giant water bugs eat? Giant water bugs are voracious predators that will take down any small animals they can subdue. They have a long needle-like mouth and their bite contains a cocktail of chemicals that paralyzes their prey and digests their tissues. Then the giant water bugs slurp up its meal. Giant water bugs hunt other insects, tadpoles and frogs, small fish, and even the occasional duckling. — How do giant water bugs breathe? Giant water bugs spend their lives in freshwater, but they must return to the surface to breathe. Giant water bugs have two little air straps that protrude from their backside. The air straps work like a snorkel to pull air into a bubble trapped under their wings. — What do giant water bugs taste like? In Southeast Asia giant water bugs are sometimes eaten as a regional delicacy. Like other arthropods, giant water bugs are said to taste a bit like shrimp with a slightly sweet flavor. —+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

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