Giant water bug, SEM

Giant water bug, SEM


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Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a giant water bug (Lethocerus americanus). Lethocerus americanus is a large water bug (1-2 inches in length) commonly found in ponds and slowly moving fresh water. Also known as the toe biter, it has the reputation of inflicting painful bites when carelessly handled. It normally feeds on other pond life: insects, tadpoles, salamander, small fish, and snails. These large brown bugs may fly at night in search of mates or another pond. Adult insects do not breathe underwater, and Lethocerus returns to the surface regularly to breath though two short tubes, strap-like appendages, at the tip of the abdomen. These tubes allow for exchange of air from the atmosphere to a bubble of air trapped under the wings. Lethocerus then injects a poison through a needle-like beak and sucks the tissue fluid of their prey. Magnification: x4 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.

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