A friend of mine found this at his lake in Northern Minnesota and shared the picture. I was immediately grossed out, and I had no idea we have these monsters in Minnesota. They're called a toe-biter beatle for slang. The actual name isn't quite as scary.

Giant Water Bug

Their common name is Giant Water Bug. They can get to be 3 inches big! That's a huge insect, and it's one of the biggest you'll find in Minnesota and North America.

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They will eat anything they can catch.

The scientific name is Lethocerus americanus. They are dark brown and have legs that have adapted to catch things. They're predatory and eat anything they can catch with their raptorial legs. They can eat frogs, fish, and turtles. I never knew that insects could eat turtles. But, they don't actually chow down on them.

They eat their prey like a spider does.

Giant water bugs don't have a jaw for chewing. They catch their prey, pierce them, and then inject digestive juices to liquefy the subject and drink it up. That's absolutely terrifying. The good news is that even though they have the nickname toe-biters, they don't attack humans. Thank god.

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You can find them in stagnant or slow-moving bodies of water. According to the University of Minnesota, they help keep pond systems from being overrun by minnows and snails.

My friend Steve found this huge one after it climbed into his boat. He said it was living in the water underneath the ice in the boat.

Steve Kajala
Steve Kajala.

So next time you're in a pond or a slow-moving body of water, keep an eye out for these things. You might just be lucky to find one.

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Gallery Credit: Andrea Vale

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