Are Backswimmer Bugs Poisonous?

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Water-dwelling backswimmers (Notonecta glauca) are insects that pierce their prey when attacking. They keep close to the water's surface, where they swim on their backs to have easier access to insects that skim over. They also prey on tadpoles and small fish. They are known to attack humans, which has earned the backswimmers their alternative name, water wasps.

The Backswimmer Bite

The backswimmer isn't truly poisonous, at least not to humans. When the backswimmer pierces his prey he emits a toxic saliva that subdues the prey, enabling him to suck out the prey's bodily fluids. When he attacks a human, or a dog, there is a painful reaction combined with a burning sensation, comparable to that of a bee sting. Although the bite generally isn't serious, a person who is sensitive to the toxin may have a more severe reaction. Treat backswimmer bites with a cold compress, painkillers and an antihistamine if needed. Go straight to a physician if there are signs of a severe reaction.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Author

Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.

See More Animals