Adult, feeding on fish

Toe biter

Abedus indentatus

Hemiptera: Belostomatidae

Toe biters are large, completely aquatic bugs found in running water.  They can often be found clinging motionless to objects at the bottom of a stream, where they wait for a chance to catch prey.  They feed mostly on aquatic insects, tadpoles, and small fish, rather than toes.  They can fly, but do so mostly at night.  Toe biters have small, inconspicuous antennae; thickened, raptorial front legs; and middle and hind legs fringed with hair for swimming.  They respire using a film of air held to their abdomen by tiny hairs. 

In the Spring, male toe biters can often be found with masses of large, pale, brown eggs attached to their backs; this seems to be the place preferred by the females for egg deposition.  While on the back of the male the eggs are given an intermittent flow of water by the rocking motion of the insect; this motion also allows the eggs exposure to air.  Male Toe biters tend to remain in protected areas of the stream to encourage the successful hatching of their embryos.

Text © Britton Jacob-Schram.

Rattlesnake Canyon, San Bernardino County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant. .

Nymph. Modjeska Creek, Orange County, CA. 5-15-09. © Peter J. Bryant.

Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, CA. 6-10-06. © Ron Hemberger.

Modjeska Creek, Orange County, CA. 5-17-09. © Peter J. Bryant.