Currently viewing the category: "Water Striders"

Subject: Texas Pool Bugs
Location: Texas
October 28, 2013 8:07 am
please tell me what this thing is!!! have no clue
Signature: thank you TRay

Water Strider

Water Strider

Dear TRay,
We wish we had more photos of Water Striders on our site.  They are amazing true bugs that spend their immature phase skating across the water in search of prey, especially insects that fall onto the water’s surface.  When they attain adulthood, they are capable of flight.

Subject: Red water strider
Location: Bradys Lake, Monroe county, NE PA
June 26, 2013 4:47 pm
Water strider found in a freshwater swampy lake in northeastern PA today 6-26-13. Never saw a red one. Our common one is Gerris, which are black ( and larger) but we never saw a red one. This one is about 3/4 the size of a an adult Gerris.
Signature: Barb in PA

Water Strider

Water Strider

Hi Barb,
When we read your subject line and saw the thumbnail attachment, we suspected a phoretic mite colony on the Water Strider, but upon enlarging the photo, that does not appear to be the case.  We don’t know why this Water Strider is red, but it does not seem typical.  The lack of wings indicates this is an immature specimen, hence its smaller size.

Subject: What are these little water bugs?
Location: Boulder Colorado
August 1, 2012 8:24 pm
Hey Bugman!
I saw these little creatures today here in sunny Colorado in a small pool of water. At first glance they looked like some sort of fly that would stride on the water. While watching them for awhile longer, a leaf hopper jumped into the water and suddenly every one of these water flies swarmed it and devoured the leaf hopper! What are they?!
Signature: Michael Lohr

Water Striders

Hi Michael,
These are Water Striders in the family Gerridae.  They are able to skate across the surface of calm bodies of water without sinking thanks to a wide leg span that disperses the weight as well as water repellent hairs on their legs.  According to BugGuide, they are found “surface of temporary or permanent ponds, and slow-moving areas of streams and rivers” and they feed on “small living or dead insects on the water surface.”  We are not certain if these are immature Water Striders or if they are just a very small species.

Water Striders

 

mystery insect
Location: South of Ireland
September 23, 2011 7:16 pm
Could you please identify the insect in the attaced photo. There are many of them in a river near my home in Ireland.
Signature: David

Water Striders

Hi David,
Water Striders are such common insects on ponds, lakes, streams and slow moving rivers, that we cannot understand why they are so underrepresented on our site.  Because the spread of their legs distributes their weight evenly across a greater surface area, Water Striders are able to skate across the water without breaking the surface.  Water Striders feed on small insects that fall onto the water’s surface.  One group of ocean dwelling Water Striders contains the only true pelagic insects that are found far out to sea on the open ocean.

Hawaiian salt water gerride
Location: Maui west side
March 7, 2011 10:49 pm
These striders are out in the waves of the Lahaina area. I only see them in smooth water, they go somewhere else when the wind comes up. Those back fins are used for speed, I have not been able to get a photo of a live one. It looks like they can dive under water, but I’m not positive since they are so fast they seem to disappear. Is there an ID for ocean striders?
Signature: w

Pelagic Water Strider

Dear w,
Thanks for sending these photos of Pelagic Water Striders found in the open ocean.  Your observations are quite informative.  We have located an online pdf originally published in 1937 entitled “Biological Notes on the Pelagic Water Striders (Halobates) of the Hawaiian Islands, with Description of a New Species from Waikiki (Gerridae, Hemiptera).” The article identifies the pelagic species
Halobates sericeus and indicates another species Halobates hawaiiensis, which is found closer to shore, apparently in calmer waters.  Here is an excerpt from this published paper by ROBERT I. USINGER :  “The reputed diving ability of these bugs is a subject of considerable controversy. Thus Murray,3 Walker,4 and Henry5 state positively that these bugs dive beneath the surface, while Hay6 and Delsman7 were unable, under any circumstances, to induce them to dive. My own observations are as follows. Neither in captivity nor under natural conditions was I ever able to force Halobates nymphs or adults to dive beneath the surface. In Micronesia I have stood in shallow water amidst many thousands of these bugs and have tried in every way to frighten them or force them to dive. They jump frequently and may move in this way so quickly that they seem to disappear. On the other hand I took a glass plate and forced a number of individuals a foot or two below the surface, holding them there to observe their actions. They were able to swim with very jerky, awkward movements first downward, thence out beyond the edge of the glass and up toward the surface where they quickly broke through the surface film to freedom.”  BugGuide indicates that the genus Halobates contains:  “The only true marine insects. Can be found in the open ocean“, but BugGuide does not have any images.

Pelagic Water Strider

Purple beach bug
April 17, 2010
I was on the beach yesterday and noticed a lot of these little critters flopping about. I was right near the water line, and I’m not sure if these were water critters that were getting beached or if they were beach critters that were getting swamped. They are small, about 2-3mm in length. As you can see, they have long appendages, but I couldn’t tell you for sure whether they are all legs or legs and antennae. Between the wind and the water, I couldn’t get one to stay still long enough to really see. Any ideas?
Dreamybee
Windward/North shore, O’ahu, Hawaii

Possibly Water Strider

Dear Dreamybee,
Many things in the world of insects and other arthropods resemble other creatures and mimicry is often used as a survival strategy.  Our first impression, before lightening your image, was that this might be a Harvester missing a few legs, but we quickly ruled that out.  The creature does appear to have six legs and antennae which is consistent with it being an insect.  The front legs appear to be raptoral, a characteristic of many true bugs including predatory aquatic bugs.  The behavior you describe was key to our hypothesis that this is some species of Water Strider in the infraorder Gerromorpha which is represented by several families on BugGuide.  The inhabitants of family Gerridae are known as the Water Striders, and according to BugGuide the habitat is the  “surface of temporary or permanent ponds, and slow-moving areas of streams and rivers.
”  One of the photos posted on BugGuide looks very similar to the shape of your creature.  Another family in the infraorder Gerromorpha is Veliidae, and the inhabitants are called the Broad-Shouldered Water Striders.  One image posted to BugGuide from Florida and it is listed as a Marine Water Strider, Trochopus plumbeus.  While we do not think that either of the images on BugGuide are your species, we do feel that they are close enough in appearance and behavior to lend credence to our hypothesis.  We eagerly welcome more authoritative assistance with this identification.

Eric Eaton provides information
April 19, 2010
The “unknown creature” from the Hawaiian beach is indeed a water strider, possibly of the genus Halobates, which are pelagic (“open ocean”) water striders.  There are, however, at least a couple of other genera of marine water striders in Hawaii.  The person who sent the image might consult the Bishop Museum in Hawaii to see what they have to say.
Eric