Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

by Annie Dillard

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How does the giant water bug attack the frog in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek?

Quick answer:

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the giant water bug attacks the frog by grabbing it, holding it tight, and then paralyzing it with enzymes injected during a bite. The bug then shoots poison through the puncture wound that dissolves all the frog's muscles, bones, and organs, leaving nothing behind but the skin.

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In a fairly detailed, and pretty graphic, description of nature red in tooth and claw, Annie introduces us to one of nature's most remarkable predators, the giant water bug. She tells us of the time when she first encountered this unusual creature. It was when it viciously attacked a frog and proceeded to suck the very life out of him. Quite literally.

Annie is amazed and astonished at the sight just four feet away from her in the creek. The bug's attack on the frog has reduced him to a pricked balloon, a floating bag of skin on top of the water. Annie can only gape at such a scene, bewildered and appalled in equal measure.

So how does the giant water bug kill the frog? Well first of all it seizes the victim using its grasping forelegs, which have inward-facing hooks. Once the frog is in the bug's grasp, the bug hugs it tightly and quickly paralyzes it with enzymes administered during a particularly vicious bite. One bite is all it takes.

Through the resulting puncture wound, the bug shoots some fast-acting poison into the frog's body, which has the effect of dissolving all the poor creature's muscles, bones, and organs, leaving nothing behind but a deflated bag of skin floating on top of the water.

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