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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Genus Lethocerus

Lethocerus sp - Lethocerus americanus Lethocerus americanus? - Lethocerus uhleri Lethocerus uhleri large insect - Lethocerus americanus Large Belostomatid - Lethocerus lethocerus americanus - Lethocerus medius Green Giant Water Bug - Lethocerus Giant Water Bug - Lethocerus americanus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Heteroptera (True Bugs)
Infraorder Nepomorpha (Aquatic Bugs)
Superfamily Nepoidea
Family Belostomatidae (Giant Water Bugs)
Subfamily Lethocerinae
Genus Lethocerus
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
L. griseus is now treated in the genus Benacus(1)(2)
Explanation of Names
Lethocerus Mayr 1853
4 spp. in our area(3), 22 total(4)
40-75 mm
keys to spp. of our fauna in(5)(3)(6)(1)(7)
Profemur without grooves on anterior surface -- Benacus griseus
Profemur with median groove on anterior surface into which tibia fits -- Lethocerus spp.
most of NA(3) and the world
our spp.:
L. americanus: transcontinental in the north, south to n.VA, KY, MO in the east and to so.CA and n.NM in the west
L. angustipes: Saratoga Spring, Death Valley, CA; Ash Meadows, NV; central Mexico
L. annulipes: 1 record from Palm Beach Co. FL; Caribbean, South America
L. medius: sw US (TX-AZ) to Costa Rica; Caribbean
L. uhleri: e.US
ponds and shallow margins of lakes containing submerged or emergent vegetation
Any animal they can handle, incl. aquatic invertebrates, small fish, tadpoles, frogs, small birds
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. (Goble & Young)
Adults breathe air through a snorkel-like breathing tube at the tip of the abdomen and tend to float at the surface or hide in shallow areas within reach of the surface.
Like most predatory bugs, these have a very painful bite. If you're wading or swimming in their habitat, closed-toe footwear is a good idea just in case you step on one.
Adults come to lights and are sometimes found on the ground under streetlights. During the breeding season, when the adults fly around looking for mates and for places to breed, they often get disoriented by electric lights and end up circling them in large numbers. This can lead to mass invasions of artificially lit outdoor spaces near water.
Works Cited
1.Identification manual for the aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera of Florida
Epler J.H. 2006. FL Dept. Env. Prot., Tallahassee, FL. 186 pp.
2.Bright E. (2002-2011) Aquatic Insects of Michigan
3.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
4.Taxonomic revision of the subfamily Lethocerinae Lauck & Menke (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)
Perez-Goodwyn P.J. 2006. Stuttg. Beitr. Naturkd., A (Biologie) 695: 1–71.
5.The semiaquatic and aquatic Hemiptera of California
Menke, Arnold S. (editor). 1979. Bulletin of the California Insect Survey, University of California Press, xi + 166 pp.
6.How to Know the True Bugs
Slater, James A., and Baranowski, Richard M. 1978. Wm. C. Brown Company.
7.Choate P.M. () Giant water bugs, electric light bugs, Lethocerus, Abedus, Belostoma (Insecta: Hemiptera: Belostomatidae)