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Watch as this water bug gobbles up an entire fish, from the inside out

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Lethocerus patruelis
Lethocerus patruelis

Another day, another gruesome example of Mother Nature's cruelty. And this one was caught on camera.

In a video clip as horrid as it is hypnotizing, researchers tracking the water bug Lethocerus patruelis put the eating habits of this enormous insect — adults measure around 3 inches long — on display. The bug begins its predatory quest by hiding out amidst plant life while watching a small fish, its eventual prey, swim along unsuspectingly. And then — boom! — the Lethocerus patruelis rapidly snags the fish and injects it with a digestive fluid that liquifies its insides. Not shown in the video is the final stage of the predatorial process: the Lethocerus patruelis sucks up that fishy purée using its syringe-like appendage.

Injects it with a digestive fluid that liquifies its insides

This new clip emerged out of a larger study, designed to evaluate the reproductive systems of the male Lethocerus patruelis and glean new insights into the geographic range of the species. Which, in case you were wondering, continues to broaden: though already swimming through some waterways in North America, East Asia, and South America, researchers found that the bug has increasingly been popping up farther north, possibly because of climate change.

Fortunately, a human encounter with the nasty water insect won't result in any liquified insides. The bite, however, still packs quite a punch: it's "considered one of the most painful that can be ever inflicted by any insect," the research team noted.