Today I Learned that Kentucky is Home to Giant ‘Toe-Biters’
Do you pay attention to what's in front of you while cutting the grass - I mean, really pay attention? I'll be honest, when I'm on the ol' John Deere, I'm usually listening to music or a ball game, I not really looking down to see what I'm cutting. I just assume I'm cutting grass. Sometimes, though, you'll encounter a little something extra in your yard - something that might make you stop and take a closer look. Beth Wilcox, from Wabash County, IN, was cutting her grass when she noticed this alien-looking insect in her grass. We know now that what she saw is a Giant Water Bug.
What is a Giant Water Bug?
The technical name is Lethocerus americanus, but the more common name says it all - it is a giant bug that lives in the water. According to the University of Kentucky, "giant water bugs are aquatic predators that are found in ponds, slow-moving streams, and wetlands in Kentucky. They feed on many aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates, including minnows, tadpoles, frogs, and other aquatic insects."
are typically hidden in mats of vegetation, just under the surface of the water." Clearly, this particular bug was NOT in the water, though. Another nickname these bugs have earned is 'toe-biter.' Neat!
Are 'Toe-Biters' Dangerous?
I'm not gonna say Giant Water Bugs are dangerous, at least not to humans. but they have been known to bite humans. You're most likely to get bitten on the toe or foot while wading through water, and that would probably only happen if the bug felt threatened. The bite is reportedly very painful, it poses no real threat to humans. If looks could kill, though, these things would be considered extremely dangerous. Big ol' pinchers, big ol' wings - Giant Water Bugs are freaking scary-looking!
If their bite and their frightening appearance weren't enough, another defense mechanism Giant Water Bugs possess is the "ability to squirt unpleasant-smelling fluid from the anus for a few feet." That's another fun fact from nps.gov.
Just How Big are These Giants?
I guess the word 'giant' means something different to each person. Compared to other 'giants' in the world, these bugs are relatively small but compared to other water bugs, they are pretty doggone big. How about if we all just agree that the Giant Water Bug is 'big enough.' On average, they grow to about 2 inches in length, but they can get as big as 4 inches. Knowing what we know about them, I'd say that is 'big enough.'
In some places of the world, these bugs are a popular ingredient in cooking. YUM!