Some can measure up to 12 cm: giant 'toe-biting' bugs invade the Mediterranean Sea

Some can measure up to 12 cm: giant 'toe-biting' bugs invade the Mediterranean Sea

Ces punaises monstrueuses se nourrissent parfois même de tortues. imagebroker/imageBROKER/Nigel Cattlin/Newscom/MaxPPP – imagebroker

Depuis 2020, les signalements de cet insecte invasif et indésirable se sont multipliés dans la mer Méditerranée et notamment sur l’île de Chypre.

Keep your feet out of the water. According to a new study published in the Works of the National Museum of Natural History "Grigore Antipa", scientists explain that the insect had never been observed on Earth ;island of Cyprus before 2020. Yet reports of panicked swimmers are increasing, reports Géo.

The worst bite an insect can inflict

Nicknamed"toe biter" in English (literally "mordeuse d& rsquo;toe"), this giant water bug (Belostomatidae) measures approximately 7 cm . But it happens that its size can go up to 12 cm in certain cases.

Inhabitant of stagnant waters and ponds, it feeds on crustaceans, fish, amphibians and sometimes even… of turtles. To achieve its goals, it injects its digestive saliva into its prey and sucks up the liquefied contents. Its bite would also be extremely painful and considered the worst that could be inflicted by an insect.

"Eyes open and feet above water"

According to the authors of the study, it could come from neighboring countries such as Israel, Lebanon and Syria: "The specimens could have been transferred by wind or sea currents, or could have been caused by a decrease in food resources in their original distribution area".

Specialists cannot explain the massive establishment of these giant insects on the island in such a short period. However, they invited the public and residents of the island to remain vigilant.

"Naturalists searching for alien-like creatures can provide valuable information about the presence and possible establishment of the species through the citizen science. Until then, Cypriots should keep their eyes open and their feet above water", they conclude.

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