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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill