The world's largest flying aquatic insect has been identified in China's Sichuan province, according to entomologists in the region.
The Insect Museum of West China said that villagers from Chengdu presented what they called "weird insects that resemble giant dragonflies with long teeth," earlier this month. Several of the bugs were examined by museum staff, and were found to be remarkably large specimens of the giant dobsonfly, which is indigenous to China and Vietnam.
There are over 220 species of dobsonflies, and they are found throughout the Americas and Asia, as well as in South Africa. The massive insects are of the subfamily Corydalinae, part of the megalopteran family Corydalidae.
The largest of the dobsonflies delivered to the museum had a wingspan of 8.27 inches, setting a new record for the world's largest flying aquatic insect. The previous record was held by a South American helicopter damselfly, which had a wingspan of 7.5 inches.
Here is a clip concerning the Sichuan dobsonflies:
While the pincers of the male dobsonfly appear to be formidable, they are actually too large for it to get enough leverage to break human skin, and are primarily used to hold on to the female while mating. On the other hand, the smaller pincers of the female dobsonfly can draw blood.
Dobsonfly.... from China with 8.3-inch wingspans and "giant snake-like fangs." IMO, even better than a Dragonfly. pic.twitter.com/VNcoN775mz
— Jeff Sjolander (@_sirtainly) July 22, 2014
Interestingly, much like a canary placed in the mines of old to detect poisonous gas leaks, the presence of dobsonflies near a water source is indicative of a healthy ecosystem. Dobsonflies are very sensitive to any fluctuations in water pH levels, as well as to the presence of trace elements of pollutants. Even if water is only slightly contaminated, a dobsonfly will move on to find a more pristine habitat.
The Chengdu discovery was the first time the giant dobsonfly was recorded in Sichuan province.
Image via YouTube