Gloria M. Ortiz
Ph.D. Graduate Student-CIAM
Department of Chemistry
University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
CIRE2N Program IRG 1
Advisor: Dr. Elvira Cuevas, Ph.D.
Belostomatidae is a family of the order Hemiptera known as freshwater giant water bugs. They live in freshwater ponds hidden within the vegetation. These large aquatic insects can reach 2 inches in length. They are brownish with oval, flattened, beetle-like bodies (Schultz, 2020).
Despite their size, GIANT WATER BUGS are voracious predators, they blend in well with the plants upon which they perch, dangling upside down so they can breathe via a “snorkel” protruding from their behinds. Once the prey comes within reach, the predators quickly snap their front legs tight and grasp the creature with their other legs. The bugs then pierce their prey with a dagger-like proboscis, injecting enzymes and possibly anesthetic chemicals (Rapp, 2019).
As scary as these water bugs sound, their status as top-shelf predators mean they are key to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. They are considered beneficial to humans since they eat mosquito larvae (Rapp, 2019 & Schultz, 2020).
Rapp Learn, Joshua. 2019. Giant Water Bugs. National Geographic
Schultz, Tom D. 2020. Giant Water Bugs. National Park Service
Image preparation procedure:
•The following images were taken: 1) Las Cucharillas wetland waterlogged area, 2) Belostomatidae specimen
•The images were acquired using the following cameras: iPhone 7 and Nikon Cool pix 5400 (adapted to a stereoscope).
•The images were modified and framed using paint.net