Ick! World's largest aquatic insect specimen reportedly found in China

Expedition returned dobsonflies with 8-inch wingspans and 'giant snake-like fangs'

The giant dobsonfly (Courtesy Insect Museum of West China)


What appears to be the world's largest flying aquatic insect was discovered earlier this month in China's Sichuan province, officials there say.

According to the Insect Museum of West China, an expedition to the outskirts of Chengdu in mid-July returned dobsonflies with 8.3-inch wingspans and "giant snake-like fangs." Previously, the largest-known aquatic insect was the South American helicopter damselfly, which had a wingspan measuring 7.5 inches.

That's nothing compared to the aquatic insects that were around 250 million years ago: giant dragonflies with wingspans up to 30 inches, the museum said.

Entomologists say the presence of the giant dobsonfly, native to China and Vietnam, is an indication of clean water nearby.

According to CNN, the aquatic critters are "highly sensitive to any changes in the water's pH as well as the presence of trace elements of pollutants." If the water is even "slightly contaminated, the giant dobsonfly will move on to seek cleaner waters."

Meanwhile, entomophobia sufferers aren't exactly thrilled with the latest discovery.

"No, I wasn’t planning on sleeping tonight anyway," Brian Ashcraft wrote on Kotaku Australia. "Or the rest of this month, for that matter."

Another view of the dobsonfly:

The giant dobsonfly (Courtesy Insect Museum of West China)
The giant dobsonfly (Courtesy Insect Museum of West China)