Saturday, August 4, 2007
Giant Water Bug
There's nothing particularly timely about this post... except that it was just yesterday I learned of this creature's existence in the universe. Through being approached by one at the local swimming pond. It was injured and was paddling slowly about, so we had lots of opportunity to examine it. This image seems a pretty good likeness, but doesn't give a sense of scale. The thing was, at a guess, about 3 1/2 inches long, though my insect guide gives 1-2 inches as a more usual size range. Here's a good scale pic of an Ecuadorean one; it wasn't quite that big. Giant water bugs are true bugs, Hemipterans; this resulted in everybody looking at me like I was an idiot for proclaiming repeatedly, "I'm pretty sure it's a bug." They are predatory, and our instinct to stay away from the front pair of legs while handling the bug was apparently correct: another common name for them is "toe-biters." Here are pictures of them eating tadpoles, adult frogs, and a snake.
Apparently, some people not only know they exist, but eat them.
The male giant water bug carries the eggs on his back until they hatch, in order to protect them from predation, a fact that proves that men are badly oppressed and unjustly maligned in our society (.pdf). (I can't link to the specific page-- 151-- of this highly fascinating ebook, "If Men Have All the Power, How Come Women Make the Rules?"... but if you'd like to browse it for yourself, please feel free.) Anyway you can see a picture of the egg thing here. It's pretty neat but I don't think it has much to do with who pays for dates or why women dress so sexy if they're not trying to use their power to subjugate men.
I love discovering that a highly striking, formidable, exotic-seeming creature that I've never seen or even heard of before lives in my local pond, and in fact-- as my insect guide says-- is "relatively common." More things in heaven and earth...
Although I was joking, my daughter takes seriously the possibility that it was a fairy in disguise.