When giant water bugs (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae) encounter prey animals that are larger than they are themselves, they first hook the claw of their raptorial legs onto the animal, and then use all their legs to pin it. The claws of the raptorial legs in giant water bugs play an important role in catching larger prey, but the relationship between the claws, body lengths of predators, and prey size has not been fully investigated. To elucidate the functioning of claws in catching prey, we investigated prey body size relative to predator size in nymphs of two sympatric belostomatid giant water bug species, the vertebrate eater Kirkaldyia (=Lethocerus) deyrolli Vuillefroy and the invertebrate eater Appasus japonicus Vuillefroy, captured in rice fields. The younger nymphs of K. deyrolli caught preys that were larger than themselves, whereas those of A. japonicus caught preys that were smaller. Younger nymphs of K. deyrolli had claws that were curved more sharply than those of A. japonicus. The more curved claws of younger nymphs of K. deyrolli probably hook more easily onto larger vertebrates and thus this shape represents an adaptation for acquiring such prey.
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