Ferocious Water Bug

(Abedus herberti)

Habitat and Distribution: Found near aquatic vegetation in ponds and slow-moving streams throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

Size: 1-2 inches long

Wild Diet: Aquatic insects, tadpoles, snails, small fish, and small amphibians

Predators: Fish and wading birds such as egrets

Reproduction: A female uses mucus to glue over 100 eggs to the wings of a male, who carries and protects them until they are ready to hatch. He pumps water over the eggs to supply them with oxygen and occasionally raises them out of the water to prevent mold growth. Newly hatched nymphs will eat just about anything, and must find suitable surfaces to hang on to for molting. Some nymphs will be eaten by adults.

Behavior: Ferocious water bugs are ambush predators that lurk on stream bottoms and pond bottoms. Wide, flat bodies help them swim underwater. To breathe, they occasionally swim to the surface and collect air through a long breathing tube called a respiratory siphon. Some of the air is stored in a bubble under the wing, where it can be absorbed into the body through a breathing hole called a spiracle.


IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Ferocious water bugs are common and face no major threats.

Did you know?

  • After grabbing prey with their claws, they use piercing mouthparts to inject strong digestive enzymes into their prey and then drink the pre-digested bits.
  • Their coloration allows them to blend in with leaf litter. This adaptation helps them ambush prey and avoid predation.
  • They are also called “toe biters” because they are known to bite the toes of swimmers.