The Life Cycle of Water Bugs
What do they eat and where do they live?
Water bugs, as the name suggests, are aquatic insects belonging to the class of true bugs Hemiptera.
They are the biggest of the true bugs in Canada and the United States as they can grow up to a maximum length of 4 inches. Because of they’re they are often mistaken for cockroaches and beetles.
Their oval-shaped bodies that are dark brown or tan. While water bugs typically range between 1 to 1.5 inches of in length, giant water bugs are 2 to 2.5 inches long.
What Is the Life Cycle of Water Bugs?
The general life cycle of water bugs comprises three important phases:
- Egg – female water bugs produce eggs on weeds and plants along the edge of water or the backs of male water bugs. Males watch over the eggs until they hatch, and give them air to prevent fungus or algae from growing on them. They engage in a practice called ‘brood pumping’ where males make water move over the eggs to increase oxygen diffusion.
In the case of water bugs, males serve as the ideal caretaker of their young eggs.
- Nymph – after hatching the nymph stage will last for around two months until reaching full adult. The larvae cast off their epidermis to facilitate rapid growth. While they don’t develop wings yet in this phase, they are actively hunting for food on their own.
- Adult – finally in the adult stage they can grow up to be 1 to 1.5 inches long, 2 to 2.5 inches long or even 4 inches long at max. They also develop wings at this stage. From then on the adults live on for about one month. Upon reaching sexual maturity water bugs are capable of reproducing, and continuing yet another life cycle of water bugs.
What Do Water Bugs Eat?
Water bugs generally prey on a wide variety of aquatic creatures to satiate their hunger. Their food choices include:
- adult aquatic insects and their larvae
More surprising than the variety in their menu is that water bugs can devour an animal 50 times their size.
Water bugs are also equipped with a claw resembling a hook making these insects daunting predators ideal for hunting their prey. The giant water bug, in particular, appears more threatening. Using its front legs, a water bug grasps its victim and pierces the prey with its razor-sharp beak thereby injecting a potent toxin.
The toxin that comes from water bugs serves two purposes. First, it paralyzes the victim, and then liquefies its insides, thereby enabling the water bug to slurp up a liquid feast.
Although they only prey on the insects mentioned above and animals, they may still sometimes bite humans. However, not with the intention to eat them, but rather when they feel threatened. Hence, they are also referred to as toe biters.
While their bites may not be harmful to the average human, some people could be allergic to their bite.
In the latter case seek immediate medical help.
Where Do Water Bugs Live?
Water bugs favor hot and humid temperatures. This makes temperate countries like the United States ideal for water bugs to inhabit. Obviously by their name they inhabit bodies of water ranging from ponds, lakes, rivers, and even swimming pools.
Although water bugs stay functional throughout the year, seasons, when their activities reach their peak, are in late summer and early fall. This is when they move from the shallow surface of their waters to deeper waters where they may stay sufficiently active during the cooler winter season.
It may come off surprising though that water bugs are unable to breathe underwater. That’s why, they swim towards the surface, obtain some air, and then return to the deep waters for hunting their prey.
Despite being aquatic insects, water bugs also sometimes choose to live on land. The reason behind this is that water bugs gravitate to light which is why they are also called electric light bugs. Due to this water bugs are often lured in by well-lit places like parking lots, porches, illuminated neon signs, and even roadsides with bright streetlights at night.
Aside from occupying water bodies and resting in brightly lit places, water bugs may also be found in homes. If a house has leaking faucets or a garden with rotting wood or compost and accumulating heaps of leaves, water bugs are quite likely to be spotted around. Additionally, water bugs may also find themselves in via crevices in the walls or windows of a house.
Related Article: What Attracts Water Bugs and How to Prevent Them
Concluding The Life Cycle of Water Bugs
Conclusively, water bugs are odd creatures. Despite the fact that they keep to themselves instead of actively engaging with humans, they are still likely to bite humans if they feel threatened by them.
Although they feed on insects like ants and mosquitoes, their presence in the human locality is still a nuisance. Therefore, it’s best if they remain in their aquatic habitats far from humans.
More Articles About Water Bugs:
- Do Water Bugs Bite or Cause Disease?
- Facts About Water Bugs
- The Life Cycle of Water Bugs
- What Attracts Water Bugs and How to Prevent Them
- How to Get Rid of Water Bugs in the Swimming Pool
- Roles of Water Bugs in the Ecosystem
- Types of Water Bugs
- Giant Water Bug: The Beast of Pests
- How to Get Rid Of Water Bugs