Lethocerus

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Lethocerus
Lethocerus americanus23.jpg
Lethocerus americanus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Belostomatidae
Subfamily: Lethocerinae
Genus: Lethocerus
Mayr, 1853
Species

See text

Lethocerus is a genus of the hemipteran family Belostomatidae, known colloquially as giant water bugs, distributed in tropical, subtropical and temperate areas of the world.[1][2] The greatest diversity of species occurs in the Americas, with only a single species in Europe, two in Africa, two in Australia and three in Asia.[2] It includes the largest true bugs with species capable of reaching a length of over 12 centimetres (4.7 in).[3] The South American L. grandis and L. maximus are the only to commonly exceed 9 cm (3.5 in), with more typical lengths for the remaining species being between 4.5 and 9 cm (1.8 and 3.5 in).[2] Lethocerus sp. are distinguished from other genera in the Lethocerinae (Benacus and Kirkaldyia) by two symmetrical furrows in the inner pad of setae on the fore femur, the external borders of parasternites II and III narrowed and nearly straight, and with the setae of the tarsomeres following the line of the tibial setae.

Habits[edit]

Unlike giant water bugs in the subfamily Belostomatinae, females do not lay the eggs on the backs of males.[4] Instead, after copulation (often multiple sessions[4]) the eggs are laid on emergent vegetation (rarely on man-made structures) high enough above the waterline that the eggs will not be permanently submerged. The male will then guard the eggs from predators and periodically bring water to the eggs to prevent their desiccation.

Like other members of the giant water bug family, Lethocerus are predators that overpower prey by stabbing it with the rostrum and injecting a venomous saliva. The rostrum can also be used in self-defense and the sting is very painful to humans, but usually resolves within a few hours at most.[3]

Species[edit]

As of 2006, this is an exhaustive listing of all known species of Lethocerus:[2]

In addition to these, Lethocerus deyrollei, which is one of the best known giant water bugs, has traditionally been included in this genus, but in 2006 it was moved to Kirkaldyia.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ D. R. Lauck & A. Menke (1961). "The higher classification of the Belostomatidae (Hemiptera)". Annals of the Entomological Society of America 54: 644–657. 
  2. ^ a b c d e P. J. Perez-Goodwyn (2006). "Taxonomic revision of the subfamily Lethocerinae Lauck & Menke (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)". Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. A (Biologie) 695: 1–71. 
  3. ^ a b Haddad Jr; Schwartz; Schwartz; and Carvalho (2010). Bites Caused by Giant Water Bugs Belonging to Belostomatidae Family (Hemiptera, Heteroptera) in Humans: A Report of Seven Cases. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 21: 130–133.
  4. ^ a b N. Ichikawa (1988). "Male brooding behaviour of the giant water bug Lethocerus deyrollei Vuillefroy (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)". Journal of Ethology 6 (2): 121–127. doi:10.1007/BF02350877.