'Aggressive' toe-biting insects found in California streams can leave you in pain

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Friday, August 24, 2018
'Aggressive' toe-biting insects found in Santa Monica Mountains
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Abedus herbertis are "aggressive" toe-biting insects that can be found in streams in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to park service officials.

SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS, California -- They're called Abedus herberti and they really bite.

Park service officials in California say these "aggressive" toe-biting insects were recently detected in the streams of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Two photos showing a male Abedus herberti with eggs on its back were recently posted to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area's Facebook page.

It's typical for the eggs to lay on the male's wings and be carried until they hatch, all while being kept moist, clean and safe from predators.

Belostomatidae is a family of freshwater hemipteran insects that can grow up to be four inches long.

The giant water bugs, also known as toe-biters, have been spotted at Santa Monica Mountain streams and are capable of biting human toes. According to park ranger Ana Beatriz, the bites are "very painful!"

"They're aggressive predators who feed on turtles, fish and snakes. And if you visit Asia, these giant water bugs are considered a delicacy," Beatriz wrote.

As for other interesting facts about the bizarre-looking bugs: The insects are known to play dead, and most can emit a smelly fluid from their anus when startled.