Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Giant Water Bug 'Toe Biter' Devours Fish, Snakes, And Turtles; Vicious Bite Worse Than A Wasp Sting (VIDEO)

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Jul 31, 2013 03:38 PM EDT

A toe biter devours a fish.
A toe biter devours a fish. (Photo : Nikolay Simov)

A giant insect has stepped out of its place in the food chain. It munches on fish, snakes, and even turtles.

Scientists were able to capture a video of the monstrous insect stalking and attacking a small fish, LiveScience reported.

Lethocerus patruelis, (also known as the "toe-biter" or "electric light bug") is the largest European water insect. They are typically about three inches long.

The bug has a bite which is considered one of the most painful to humans, and utterly deadly to smaller prey.

"It's much, much worse than a bee or wasp sting. I was bitten in the pad of my little finger, and I felt intense pain all the way to my elbow for a good 30 minutes," Robert Sites, who led a toe biter study in 2007, said.

The insect injects its poison with a straw-like appendage.

The water bug's bite is not harmful to humans (except for the pain), but it liquefies the organs of its prey, allowing the bug to eat a fish from the inside-out.

Lethocerus' caustic digestive saliva is what gives them the ability to perform the grisly attacks.

The bug has only been known to attack moving prey, the BBC reported.

Scientists were surprised to see one of the predator's eating a snake in 2011.

"Everyone thinks that Lethocerinae bugs live on fishes and frogs. Although eating a turtle and snake are rare in the natural condition, [this evidence] surprises naturalists [by showing] voracious feeding habits," Dr. Shin-ya Ohba, who observed the event, said.

Toe biters mainly live in streams and waterfalls in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.

The bugs are no match to humans. Locals have been known to cut down the natural environment, and exhaust the soil.

"It's an ongoing problem and a threat to species we haven't even discovered yet," Sites said.

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