Predator Vs. Prey: Giant Water Bug vs. Redear Sunfish

By | September 1, 2015
From Xplor: September/October 2015

Toe Biters

Giant water bugs are nicknamed “toe biters” for their painful bite. These hunters sit motionless underwater, waiting for lunch to pass by. They breathe air through snorkel-like tubes extending from their hind end.

Bug Bomb

Boom! The water bug’s stealth leads to an explosive attack. The clawlike front legs nab prey while it uses long, oarlike back legs to swim fast so prey doesn’t get away.

Bug Beak, Future Bleak

Grasping prey with powerful front legs, a giant water bug thrusts its sharp beak into its victim and injects chemicals that paralyze the prey and turn its guts into goo, which the giant water bug slurps up.

Grow Big to Survive

Redear sunfish are only attacked by giant water bugs when they are small. Eventually, these fish outgrow water bug attacks. In fact, full-grown redear sunfish may get the last laugh by feeding on water bugs later.

Big Eyes to Stay Alive

Redear sunfish are related to bluegills and are similar in shape and size, although redears have red spots (orange in females). Redears use their keen eyesight to spot predators and escape using quick, darting speed.

And the winner is…

What looked like a floating dead leaf was actually a giant water bug waiting to attack this young redear sunfish. The water bug’s sudden attack, coupled with its paralyzing bite, quickly overwhelmed the finished fish.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White