You wouldn’t know it by looking at this little green critter, but this tiny animal will grow up to become a giant water bug. Zoo biologists found this insect while doing invertebrate surveys at the pond at Nature Boardwalk. Just like dragonflies and damselflies, immature giant water bugs are called nymphs.
Giant water bugs make up a family of insects that are often found in ponds. The scientific name for this family is Belostomatidae. Adult giant water bug size depends on species, with some local species reaching 2 inches in length.
These insects are hunters, eating anything they can catch, including other insects, tadpoles and even very small fish. They aren’t afraid to attack prey larger than themselves. They breathe through “snorkels” positioned near the back end of their bodies. This allows them to sit and wait until prey comes along.
Giant water bugs, in turn, are eaten by other predators, such as large fish and birds. Adults have wings and can fly to find new ponds or streams.