Backswimmer abdominal hairs
Location:  Santa Cruz Mountains
July 22, 2010 2:45 pm
Hello Bugpeople,
I saw a few letters concerning backswimmers and thought you might like to see this photo I took in my sister’s pool that inadvertantly captured extremely long hair-like structures on the abdomen of the backswimmer. I’d never seen them before until I enlarged the photo. I assumed they would be for breathing (extracting oxygen directly from the water?), but apparently they just help hold the abdomen at the surface of the water.
Incidently, I tried my hand at raising a few chickens a couple of years ago. I learned that everything loves the taste of chickens: raccoons, coopers hawks, coyotes, etc. I did manage to get a couple to egg-laying age, and had a nice run for a while (loved those fresh rich eggs), but eventually a wily coyote found his way into the enclosure and finished them off. While they were here, though, they were the happiest chickens on the planet – a full half-acre to run around on, and I fed them termites and other pests when I encountered them.
Fellow Bug Lover Dave


Hi Dave,
Thanks for the great letter and wonderful images of a Backswimmer.  We will need to do a bit of research on the hair subject, but we didn’t want to wait to post your letter.
Thanks also for the tips on chicken predators.  We were very mindful of making the chicken coop very secure.  The chicken run is only four foot high chicken wire, but we don’t plan on letting the chickens out of the coop without supervision, at least until they are much larger.  We will lock our chickens, we just named the gold one Ginger, into the coop each night which should keep them safe from nocturnal raccoons and owls, and coyotes that pose a greater threat at night.  Our biggest fear is the hawks, especially Cooper Hawks which feed on the doves that come to our bird feeder.  There are also Red Shouldered Hawks and Red Tail Hawks in the neighborhood, but the smaller Cooper Hawks are the ones we are most nervous about.

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BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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