The evolution of parental care in males- or “Mr. Mom” of the animal world.
One of the more interesting and highly predaceous invertebrates that you will encounter in fresh water habitats is a large water bug or hemipteran in the genus Belostoma . They are commonly found when dipnetting in ponds and I came across several both in FL and VA ponds I have sampled recently. These bugs deserve a lot of respect that is indicated by their common name of “toe biter.” They get this name since if you step on them they will bite your foot; they have a sucking proboscis and a secretion that when injected causes severe pain. Even more fascinating is the reproductive habits by which the females glue the fertilized eggs to the back of the males for brooding (see photo). This process by which the male protects the eggs attached to or in his immediate care is quite rare; other examples are sea horses (eggs in pouch) and the Surinam toad (eggs glued to and absorbed into back skin). A theory for this unusual circumstance is that it is one way in which the male can be assured of his paternity of the eggs. This is believed to be a major factor involved in development of parental care by males.
So pick up a net and do a few scoops in the nearest freshwater pond and you may be surprised by what you find! Here is a case of advanced behavior in a lowly insect.
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA