Video captures vicious predator bug as it ambushes, eats unsuspecting fish

This image shows the larva of a giant water bug feeding on a small fish.

If you happen upon Lethocerus patruelis, otherwise known as the Giant Water Bug, you might want to give it some space. Not only can they deliver what is considered to be one of the most painful bites of any insect we know about, but their habits of stalking and ambushing their prey portrays them as being particularly vicious.

Researchers studying this bug's reproductive habits captured this video of one specimen as it snagged an unwary fish that wandered too close:

Species of Lethocerus are quite noticeable. They're one of the largest species of true bugs (insects that have a proboscis), and can grow to between 8-11 cm long. They are well camouflaged, though and (as the video demonstrates) are adept at the 'hide and ambush' tactic. When they bite, they inject digestive fluids right into their prey, reducing the unfortunate victim's insides to a tasty liquid meal that the bug can just suck out.

[ More Geekquinox: Magma ‘highway from hell’ study may improve volcano forecasting ]

The particular species in the video is found in southeastern Europe and the Middle East, although the researchers have noted that it is expanding its territory northward (possibly a signal of climate change). There are similar species found elsewhere in the world as well, and there's even one native to North America. They tend not to be aggressive towards humans, and prefer to flee or play dead. However, if one of these 'toe biters' does manage to tag you, at least take some comfort (while you're howling with pain) that the bite apparently isn't poisonous and it doesn't have any other harmful effects.

Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting