Familia Belostomatidae Leach, 1815

Family BELOSTOMATIDAE Leach, 1815 - giant water bugs, electric light bugs, toe biters

J.T. Polhemus

The family contains 9 genera and about 143 species, distributed worldwide. Species of various genera are predaceous on arthropods, snails, fish, and are often damaging to fish culture. Limnogeton species are obligate predators of snails, including those carrying schistosomiasis. Most species live in lentic habitats or the quiet parts of large streams, with a few species commonly found in lotic habitats. They overwinter as adults. Eggs are laid on plant stems out of water (Lethocerus) or on the backs of males (Belostomatinae). A few species are wing-dimorphic; the flightless forms are submacropterous with reduced hind wings. Many species fly readily and are attracted to lights. Belostomatid bites are severely painful. Lethocerus species are considered a delicacy in Asia.

World overview: Menke, 1979. Palaearctic catalogue: J.T. Polhemus, 1995b. Monographs: Dufour, 1863 (outdated); Lauck & Menke, 1961 (genus and higher classification); Mayr, 1863, 1871 (outdated); Montandon, 1896a; J.T. Polhemus, 1995b Palaearctic Catalogue). Faunal reviews: Africa - Poisson, 1949a. Biology: Cullen, 1969; Smith, 1979.