Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
is now treated in the genus Benacus(1)(2)
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
L. americanus: Canada; in US mostly northern in east (south to n. VA, KY, MO), reaching further south in west to southern CA and northern NM
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: TX, NM, AZ; Mexico to Costa Rica, Caribbean
L. uhleri: widespread in eastern 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
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.