Last week while camping in the Okanagan, a friend noticed a huge bug lumbering along in the short, dry grass. I thought it was a cockroach and was amazed at its size, not to mention I knew that giant cockroaches are not found in this part of the world and wondered if someone had lost a pet. We kept it to take home (because neither Daughter nor I can resist collecting a fascinating specimen!). It seemed injured and confused when we caught it and so we were not surprised when it died on the 6 hour journey home, trapped in a tupperware container with lots of sugar (I thought being a cockroach it might enjoy that).
Today we finally got around to photographing and identifying the bug. It took me a short time to rule out “cockroach” and much longer to figure out what it actually was. Fortunately, my fave site for such things, What’s That Bug, happened to be featuring our specimen as one of this month’s bugs. However, it was a ways down the page and it really didn’t occur to me that I’d be so lucky, so it took me a while to find it.
Our little (dead) fella is a Lethocerus americanus, aka Giant Water Bug, also known as a Toe-Biter. They are one of the largest bugs in Canada and live in freshwater lakes, ponds, etc. We were camped right next to the shores of a huge lake and apparently these guys like to seek out bright lights at night (of which there were many in the campground) and often get disoriented or injured. Normally they are in the water catching such largish prey as frogs and fish. Checking out the large forearms of our specimen I can see how that would work. They are called Toe-Biters because if handled aggressively they can deliver a painful bite. Fortunately none of us had the guts to try and touch our find!