Among the deadliest predators existing in our society are the four-inch vampire water bugs. These little giants are capable of attacking and feeding on other aquatic creatures up to twelve times their size. Among their preys include frogs, ducks, turtle and a variety of venomous snakes.
Research into their hunting habit which was recently published in the Entomological Science Journal described them as “lie-and-wait” predators. Despite being extremely tiny, their strengths match those of giant, preying insect and are capable of overpowering turtles.
There are about 150 species of these water bugs with varying sizes which seem to match their appetites. The largest of them all – Lethocerus grandis and Lethocerus maximus can be found in South America and have a very high appetite.
According to a Senior Lecturer of Trinity College, Connecticut, they go into position by holding onto a plant in the water and as soon as anything moves in front of them, they grab and try to eat it. This they do by snapping their front legs tight and grasping the prey with their other limbs. They then pierce the creature with the proboscis which looks like a dagger and inject digestive enzymes (and maybe toxins) into the victims. This injected enzymes help them digest their victim’s tissue before sucking it back up into their own body.
The time taken to completely devour a prey varies with the prey’s body size and can last for several hours without completely killing the victim. Until date, the contents of the enzymes water bugs release into their victims are unknown and has not been ascertained to be poisonous or not.
Female water bugs are known to be highly sexually active and can go as far as eating up laid eggs just to gain a male mating partner.
However, these minute giants are not invincible as they also serve as food to other higher animals. While they are popularly eaten fried or boiled in Southeastern Asia, they also serve as food to large fishes, ducks and racoons.