Have you ever been swimming in a lake or river and you feel something brush by your leg or foot? Even though we know there are harmless fish and plants in those waters, an encounter can give you an uneasy moment. What if I told you that not all of these water creatures are harmless?

There is one particular creature living in the waters of New York State that packs an extremely painful punch of venom and digestive enzymes. Stay away from this giant water bug!

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According to the National Park Service, the giant water bug, also known as a toe-biter, can be found in freshwater ponds, marshes, and slow moving pools in streams throughout New York State. You could be wading into a pond and not even realize the toe-biter is right there just under the surface of the water.

If you threaten this giant water bug you will feel a very painful bite, typically between your toes and that pain could stay with you for a couple of days. The good news is the venom is non-toxic.


The piercing bite of the giant water bug isn't their only pleasant characteristic. This pest has been known to squirt a horrible smelling fluid from it's body when it feels threatened. The toe-biter can also 'play dead' if you remove it from the water. Then pops back to life.

Another common name for this bug is “electric light bug,” because they tend to be attracted to porch lights, street lights, any electric light at night. Next time you step into that pond in the backyard, be aware of the toe-biter.

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