Can water bugs in the genus belostoma bite you?

I handle these guys a lot, and I once saw someone say they bite. I also heard someone say they don’t bite. do they bite, or do they not bite?

just about anything with a mouth can bite. water bugs seem to be relatively docile, and i’ve never been bitten either, but i wouldn’t want to roughly handle one. if one does decide to bite you, it will hurt.

https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032(10)00039-6/fulltext

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Apparently they will - they do kill small fish after all. Aquatic bugs have piercing/sucking mouthparts, and inject substances into the prey. I got bitten by a backswimmer (Notodontidae) about as long as my thumbnail, and the pain went all the way from my hand up to my elbow. No lasting damage, but it hurt for an hour or so. I’m always careful handling aquatic bugs, especially those big Belostomatids!

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I don’t really have any experience with Belostoma. But one day I was fishing brackish water here in Florida and pulled up seaweed covered with small, circular water bugs. The seaweed came from the ocean and the water bugs came from freshwater sources. I picked one up to look at it closely and it immediately bite/stung me. Ouch, it really hurt!

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I’m not sure about Belostoma in particular, but Belostomatids including the giant water bug, Lethocerus americanus can give a nasty “bite”. They actually have piercing, sucking mouthparts, so “bite” is a bit of a misnomer. They can inject saliva with venoms in it that is very painful. I’ve never been bitten myself, but know people who have, and they say it was pretty bad.

They are also called “toebiters” by some folks down South in the US, and are known for preying on frogs (many pics of frogs being pierced and having their innards sucked out).

https://www.mister-toad.com/photos/inverts/Lethocerus_eating_frog_01.html
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232688868_Structure_and_Function_of_the_Mouthparts_and_Salivary_Gland_Complex_of_the_Giant_Waterbug_Belostoma_lutarium_Stal_Hemiptera_Belostomatidae

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They pierce their mouth parts on you when threatened, and although they use sucking mouthparts instead of mandibles, ‘‘bite’’ isn’t that wrong at all, since they’re still using their mouthparts. And yes, they are frequently called ‘‘toe-biters’’ in the South.

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They can and they do:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44888136_Bites_Caused_by_Giant_Water_Bugs_Belonging_to_Belostomatidae_Family_Hemiptera_Heteroptera_in_Humans_A_Report_of_Seven_Cases

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I accidentally grabbed a stinkbug, hidden under the far side of the railing.
Stabbed with a red hot needle!

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Most bugs can bite or otherwise injure with their mouthparts, but predatory water insects in particular can inflict a nasty, painful jab. They aren’t dangerous, it’s just gonna hurt like hell. Giant Waterbugs supposedly have one of the most painful bites of any North American insect. Not that I’ve checked.

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Yeah, generally most heteropterans can injure with their straw-like mouthparts, but giant-water bugs are particularly painful, as well as assassin bugs (reduviidae) like wheel bugs and ambush bugs. Both of them are predators, so they use strong digestive juices of some sort that dissolve the interior of their prey, and they also use those chemicals to pack you a nasty punch when they feel threatened, and that’s why they are so painful.

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I wonder if that’s how their prey feels? ::shudder::

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I’m just going to tell myself that the prey’s nerves are damaged quickly enough for it to not feel much, because otherwise there’s a nasty conclusion to be had.

(Referring to waterbugs, not stinkbugs. Stinkbugs aren’t predatory.)

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Well, actually, stinkbugs can sometimes be predatory, hunting other insects like caterpillars.

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“Life” is not always painless, or clean. Especially in regards to the prey/predator relationship. Not to diminish your concern, but often Life is ugly, especially when viewed from human standards. Humans can be pretty ugly as well.

I’m fully aware of that, yes. Hyenas frequently eat their prey alive, there’s quite possibly at least one species of parasitic wasp for every other species of insect, and all sorts of animals kill each other in all sorts of awful ways. But if I sit and think about the amount of pain going on constantly, it’s going to make me very sad over something I have no means of doing anything about.
So, because I am not a waterbug scientist, and because it has literally no impact on the world other than letting me not dwell on something sad, I’m going to tell myself that animals killed by waterbugs generally don’t feel much pain. Even if it is probably wrong.

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