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Definition: water bug from Collins English Dictionary


1 any of various heteropterous insects adapted to living in the water or on its surface, esp any of the family Belostomatidae (giant water bugs), of North America, India, and southern Africa, which have flattened hairy legs

Summary Article: water bug
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Any of a number of aquatic bugs where all stages of the life cycle (adult, larval, and egg) occur in the water; the eggs are usually attached to the stems or leaves of water plants. In contrast to the land bugs, which have quite distinctly noticeable antennae, the antennae of water bugs are hidden. In general, water bugs are also less brightly coloured; they are usually varying shades of black or brown, and tend to inhabit the bottom strata of ponds, lakes, and streams. They may or may not have wings.

Classification Water bugs belong to the suborder Heteroptera, order Hemiptera, class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda.

The largest water bugs, giant waterbugs, belong to the family Belostomatidae. They found in Australia, India, China, and South America. They are over 10 cm/4 in long, and prey on insects, tadpoles, and small fish.

The saucer bug (‘water-bee’) Ilyocoris cimicoides is found mainly in ponds in southern England. It belongs to the family Naucoridae. It resembles a beetle, with an oval body about 15 mm/0.6 in long. It is carnivorous, and can inflict a painful sting.

Aphelocheirus montandoni is a brightly coloured bug found on gravelly bottoms of fast-flowing streams. It belongs to the family Aphelocheiridae. The adult bug measures about 8 mm/0.3 in in length, is wingless, and is usually found on stony bottoms of fast-flowing rivers and streams. Both the dorsal and, to a greater extent, the ventral body surfaces bear a multitude of very fine, closely set hairs, bent at their extremity. These hairs form a kind of water-proof web around an air bubble (the plastron). Oxygen diffuses into the bubble from the surrounding water, but the bug must rise to the surface periodically to collect a new supply of air.

The family Veliidae includes the water crickets, both the smaller species of Microvelia and the larger species belonging to the genus Velia. Two British species of Velia have been recorded: V. caprai and the less common V. saulii. On average they measure about 7 mm/0.3 in in length; they are surface dwellers found in slow-moving streams, and they run rather than walk over the water surface. Three British species of Microvelia are found; these measure on average 1.5–2.0 mm/0.06–0.08 in long.

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