Water scorpion - it's a bug!

Published on September 10th 2018
This aquatic insect, (Laccotrephes sp.) has a scorpion-like appearance with its raptorial front legs and the long siphon, which looks like a tail. However, this is a predatory bug which clings to underwater vegetation, waiting for prey to pass by. The siphon, consisting of 2 joined filaments, is quite long with the tip outside the water in order to breathe. The raptorial front legs are used to grasp prey like we see with praying mantids.
Prey include other aquatic invertebrates such as water fleas, lice, insect larvae, and water worms, tadpoles and even small fish. Mouthparts are adapted for piercing and sucking. After a prey is caught, the water scorpion will inject a digestive enzyme and sucks out the body fluids. They are weak swimmers as the legs are not really adapted to swimming. Although they are winged, they seldom fly.
You can find them in standing water bodies, like dams and ponds. They are large insects, with a body length greater than 4 cm, and with the siphon of about 6 cm. Although they are large insects, they camouflage very well. They can sometimes be mistaken for dead leaves. A bite can be painful, but harmless as they are not venomous.
This is the stick water scorpion, Ranatra sp., and mimics a stick insect, with very long mid- and hind legs. However, this water scorpion also has the raptorial front legs to catch prey. They are slender compared to Laccotrephes sp., with similar body length. They are also winged bit seldomly fly. The antennae are also shot which they use to sense their way through their surroundings.
Both water scorpion species are found at Babylonstoren.
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