Taipei Zoo suggests using water bugs to ward off dengue

By Ko Lin

Taiwan’s dengue fever epidemic needs a bug fix, the Taipei Zoo said Monday.

As the mosquito-borne disease continues to plague southern Taiwan, the zoo pointed out that the water bug was already proven effective against mosquito larvae in parts of Southeast Asia and India.

The Belostomatidae, also known as giant water bug, is typically encountered in freshwater streams and ponds in many parts of the world, and are fierce predators which stalk, capture, and feed on aquatic invertebrates, snails, and crustaceans.

“Studies also found that they feed on mosquito larvae, as proven by researchers in the Philippines,” the zoo said.

Recent studies also found that a water bug can consume 86-99 full grown mosquito larvae per day.

The Belostomatidae are back brooders, which means that the males care for the eggs attached to their backs – laid by the females after mating.

“The male bug can carry up to 100 eggs on its back for a period of one week before they are hatched.”

They carry their clutches to the surface periodically. This allows the embryos to breathe more efficiently, which is a lot easier to get oxygen from the air than from the water, according to the Taipei Zoo.

However, water bugs can only reproduce in non-infested pool of water, which is the main reason why they are rarely found breeding in the nation’s rice paddies as pesticides are often used by farmers to cultivate their crops, the zoo concluded.

Photo Courtesy of CNA
Photo Courtesy of CNA

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