Giant Water Bugs Revisited

Not long ago, an email correspondent reported seeing a giant water bug in a parking lot, so the BugLady decided to refresh a BOTW episode from 2009 with some new content and lots of cool links. Giant Water Bugs are “true bugs” in the Order Hemiptera and the family Belostomatidae. It’s not a huge family – about 160 species worldwide, 19 of them in North America.

Pygmy Backswimmer (Family Pleidae)

Pygmy backswimmers are true bugs, the aquatic bugs, along with water boatmen, giant water bugs, backswimmers, and water scorpions. They are in the family Pleidae, a family with maybe 40 species worldwide, five of those in North America. They occur globally except for the Poles and some distant oceanic islands, and almost all dally in clear, still, weedy waters. Though they may inhabit ephemeral ponds and can dry out for a while when the pond does, they generally live in permanent waters.

Ephemeral Pond Critters Revisited

The wonder of ephemeral pools is that they are populated by animals that take this annual disappearing act in stride—animals that are prepared to dry up with the pond or to get out of Dodge (timing is everything), and therein lie many tales. An astonishing array of animals use ephemeral ponds as a place to drink, hunt, and breed, but an ephemeral pond is a challenging place to call home. The still, shallow water warms quickly (which encourages speedy metamorphoses) but contains little oxygen.

Brown Stink Bug (Family Pentatomidae)

Brown Stink Bugs feed on leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, nuts, and fruits of a variety of plants, both wild and domestic. In fruit crops, their injected saliva may cause chemical damage, and their piercing may cause mechanical damage (holes) or cosmetic issues (scars on fruit). Brown stink bugs develop by simple/gradual metamorphosis, going from an egg, to a nymph that looks pretty much like an adult and that adds adult body parts as it grows, to an adult.

A Couple of Stinkbugs (Family Pentatomidae)

Stink Bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts in the form of a tube that is inserted into their food source, through which digestive juices are injected, and through which the resultant pre-digested tissue is extracted. The family contains herbivores, including a number of agricultural pests; carnivores, some of which are used as biological controls on other insects; and a few that start their lives as plant feeders but switch to animals.

Milkweed Bugs, Large and Small (Family Lygaedidae)

Milkweed Bugs of one kind or another are found on milkweeds across the U.S. and into southern Canada, and they’re most common in the Southeast. MBs are reported to sip nectar and to feed on non-milkweed species when milkweeds are scarce; SMBs are known to eat insects that they find on milkweeds, including the occasional monarch caterpillar (there’s that caveat).

Midsummer Report

The BugLady would like to dedicate this episode to the late (great) Cornell Professor Richard B. Fischer (January 19, 1919 – August 7, 2005) who taught the BugLady how to sneak up on insects (no bobbing or weaving, just slow and steady and straight ahead.

Water Treader (Family Mesoveliidae)

Water treaders are found on floating vegetation growing in the shallow waters of pools, where the clumps of sedge spread their slender stems upon the water. They eat insects and other small invertebrates; their hunting method is to run along the surface of algae and duckweed, and even along the surface of the water, until they have run down their prey.

Lupine Bug (Family Alydidae)

The Lupine Bug is the only Megalotomus in North America, though Eurasia hosts another seven genus members. The species can be found near the edges of woodlands across the continent except in the Deep South. LBs feed on members of the Pea family (including soybeans), with a little sumac thrown in for spice, inserting their proboscis into the developing seeds and sucking out the liquids.

Cup Plant Cosmos

The BugLady spent some very warm days among the Cup plants, those jumbo prairie plants whose opposite leaves join around the stem resulting in a small reservoir that often holds rain water or dew. The undersurface of the tender top leaves of many Cup plants were wall-to-wall with (insert creepy adjective here) red aphids—a cast of thousands—and there were some very cool supporting actors.