Sight­ings of gi­ant wa­ter bugs re­ported

Com­mon in­sect not com­monly seen

The Western Star - - LIFESTYLES -

be pos­si­ble tar­gets.

A lo­cal ver­nac­u­lar for the bug is “toe nip­pers,” though Chap­man says that name might not be based on many ac­tual in­ci­dents of peo­ple wad­ing through a pond and feel­ing the wrath of the gi­ant wa­ter bug.

“I’ve never met any­one who’s been bit­ten by one.”

Chap­man did read an ar­ti­cle one time in which some­body — all in the name of science, of course — held one by the back and stuck their fin­ger near its mouth. The con­se­quences were painful, ac­cord­ing the ar­ti­cle, he says. The one thing Chap­man knows for sure is that they don’t make good room­mates for each other.

“We had two live ones brought into the lab last year and we made the mis­take of putting one in with the other and the one grabbed the other, stabbed it and then drained it of its flu­ids.”

A stu­dent who had been keep­ing one of them — the vitim in this case — was less than pleased, says Chap­man; ap­par­ently a gi­ant wa­ter bug has a face some peo­ple can love. It still might be best to not split the rent with one, though.

Globe trot­ters

Gi­ant wa­ter bugs of vary­ing species are ac­tu­ally found all over the world. If you Google them, you’ll dis­cover they of­ten land on din­ner plates in cer­tain coun­tries of the world, rather than just on ponds and park­ing lots as in this prov­ince. The species found in this prov­ince is called Letho­cerus amer­i­canus. Any­body look­ing to keep tabs on the in­sect life of New­found­land and Labrador can fol­low the Face­book group In­sect Watch­ers of New­found­land and Labrador, which was started by one of Dr. Tom Chap­man’s stu­dents.

— Tele­gram photo

Gi­ant wa­ter­bugs are the largest in­sects in the prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to MUN en­to­mol­o­gists.

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