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For the United States & Canada
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Genus Belostoma

Beetle or Bug? - Belostoma Belostoma sp. - Belostoma Water Beetle - Belostoma Belostoma testaceum - Belostoma lutarium Belostoma lutarium - Belostoma 1011C30 - Belostoma ellipticum Unknown Belostomatid - Belostoma Insect86 - Belostoma
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 Belostomatinae
Genus Belostoma
Other Common Names
Giant Water Bug, Toe Biter, Electric Light Bug
Explanation of Names
Belostoma Latreille 1807
10 spp. in US & Canada(1)(2), several dozen total
15-41.5 mm
body football-shaped (oval with pointed ends); membrane of hemelytra large and well-developed; larger than Abedus immaculatus (Say) but most smaller than the other North American species of Abedus and Lethocerus (B. ellipticum and B. subspinosum larger)(3)(4)(5)(6) (7)
key to spp. in(1)
widespread in NA(3), most diverse in the Neotropics
slow-moving and standing water with submerged or emergent vegetation
adults present all year
nymphs and adults are predaceous on aquatic arthropods as well as snails, small fish, and the larvae and adults of frogs and toads
Life Cycle
one generation per year; overwinters as an adult; mating and egg laying occurs in late spring or early summer
Male with eggs
Females cement their eggs to the backs of males, who swim with the eggs attached, providing aeration and protection until the eggs hatch. (adult male B. flumineum carrying eggs)
Adults often hang head-downward from the water surface, breathing air through a short tube at the end of the abdomen.
Adults can inflict a painful bite if handled but usually play dead when captured.
Works Cited
1.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.
2.Two new records of aquatic Hemiptera (Belostomatidae, Mesoveliidae) from southern Florida, with keys to the genera Belostoma Lat
Pintar, M.R. 2023. Aquatic Insects.
3.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
4.How to Know the True Bugs
Slater, James A., and Baranowski, Richard M. 1978. Wm. C. Brown Company.
5.Identification manual for the aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera of Florida
Epler J.H. 2006. FL Dept. Env. Prot., Tallahassee, FL. 186 pp.
6.Choate P.M. () Giant water bugs, electric light bugs, Lethocerus, Abedus, Belostoma (Insecta: Hemiptera: Belostomatidae)
7.A taxonomic study of the genus Abedus Stål (Hemiptera, Belostomatidae)
A.S. Menke. 1960. University of California Publications in Entomology 16: 393-439.