Do you want to learn about an interesting species of insects? Water striders are fascinating creatures that glide over the surface of the water. Known as pond skaters and water skippers, they justify their name by seamlessly skating over the water surface with the help of its six legs. By making use of the high surface tension of water and its hydrophobic legs, this true bug evenly distributes its body weight which helps in keeping it afloat and prevents it from sinking. With over 1,700 species, water striders are an intriguing bug to learn about. Not only are they efficient predators, by making use of their proboscis to kill their prey, they are also smart communicators who use ripple communication.
Keep reading to learn more fun water strider facts.
What class of animal does a water strider belong to?
Water Strider insect belongs to class Insecta and the order Hemiptera.
How many water striders are there in the world?
Water strider bugs can be found all over the world and thus, it becomes difficult to estimate their total population.
Where does a water strider live?
Most species of water strider insects can be found in Europe, the US, Canada, and South America. Some species, like the Aquarius Paludum, can be found in Britain. The Aquarius Remigis and Gerris Buenoi can be found throughout North America. They are compatible with the climate of the places where they are from.
What is a water strider's habitat?
Water striders can be found skating or sitting on the water surface of various ponds, lakes, creeks, and slow-moving areas of streams. Water strider's habitats mainly consist of calm, fresh waters. These bugs can at times also be found on mud puddles. The genus Halobates can be found offshore or on seas.
Who do water striders live with?
Like most insects, a water strider lives in groups near the water's surface.
How long does a water strider live?
In warmer areas, an adult water strider can live up to a year.
How do they reproduce?
In warm tropical regions, water striders reproduce throughout the year. Males and female bugs participate in antagonistic co-evolution. Female insects are equipped with genital shields which helps them in selecting the males they are interested in mating with. The male striders, however, have developed a mechanism to counteract the shield which involves vibrational signaling. The male bugs begin tapping the surface of the water which attracts predators as well as females. Since the female is closer to the water and beneath the male, she is more likely to get harmed. The males try to intimidate the females until she closes her shield and agrees to mate. The eggs laid by females are attached to stable surfaces such as plants or stones. The number of eggs laid by the female depends upon the type of food available to her but the number is somewhere between two and 20.
What is their conservation status?
Water striders and their different species are Not Listed under the IUCN Red List. So it can be assumed that there is no threat to their numbers as of now.
Water Strider Fun Facts
What do water striders look like?
Water striders are dark-colored, slender insects with long, flexible legs. They have two antennae and six long, thin legs. The hind and the middle legs of striders have water repellent hairs that allow them to skate on the water's surface. These insects spread their legs in a way that their body weight is evenly distributed. This combination of long, thin legs with the high surface tension of water, enables them to seamlessly swim on the water's surface.
How cute are they?
They are not cute at all. Their dark-colored body, tiny size, and legs do not help them in looking cute or beautiful.
How do they communicate?
Water striders communicate with each other through the help of 'ripple communication'. They create signals through the vertical oscillation of their legs. Most of the frequencies observed are in the range of 20-50 Hz. Different species of water striders can sense different signal frequencies. The three different frequencies found in the ripple communication have distinct signals. A frequency of 3 Hz acts as a courtship signal, 10 Hz is a threat signal for when they feel threatened by the predator and 25 Hz is a repel signal which they give out to make the other water striders aware of its presence.
How big is a water strider?
The common water strider, or Aquarius remigis, can be found in the size ranging between 0.4-0.6 in (11.5-16 mm). The Aquarius Paludum, which is among the largest water strider found in Britain is 0.5-0.6 in (14-16 mm). Other species such as the Gerris Lacustris or common pond skater and Gerris Buenoi have a length ranging between 0.3-0.4 in (8-10 mm) and 0.2-0.3 in (6-8 mm) respectively. When compared to an adult cockroach, they are much shorter.
How fast can a water strider move?
The long legs and the buoyancy enables water strider bugs to move at a very fast speed. They have the ability to adjust their angular leg movements in a way that they can reach the optimal speed and jump farthest away from danger. Water striders can move at a fast speed of 2.2 mph.
How much does a water strider weigh?
Not enough research has been done to calculate the weight of a water strider.
What are their male and female names of the species?
There are no unique names given to the male and female water striders.
What would you call a baby water strider?
Baby water striders have not been given a special name. Upon the hatching of the eggs, they go through incomplete metamorphosis. The various nymph stages that they go through in the water strider life cycle bear a close resemblance to the adult strider and are only smaller in size.
What do they eat?
Water strider food includes various kinds of invertebrates. A major part of the water strider diet is feeding on mosquito larvae and dragonflies larvae. They use their front legs as sensors to detect the ripples made by their prey.
Are they dangerous?
Water Strider species are medically harmless and are not known to bite humans. In fact, these true bugs prove to be beneficial insects for some as they feed on mosquito larvae and helps keep a check on mosquitoes. Water strider bites can cause a minor sting but it is not dangerous and it will subside on its own without any treatment.
Would they make a good pet?
Their tiny size and small lifespan do not make a water strider pet an ideal choice for the home. You can keep it in a jar for a while, but it is not possible to keep these true bugs as pets.
Did you know...
Many strider species can fly at times and have wings of various lengths. However, many species of water striders lack wings. These pond skaters are polymorphic in nature. Depending on their habitat and needs, the parent striders can choose to give wings to their young ones.
How do water striders walk on water?
The secret to its ability to walk on the surface of the water is in its three pairs of legs. This insect's long and thin legs are covered with thousands of microscopic hair which helps repel water, trap a layer of air and also prevent it from getting wet or sinking. This microscopic hair on their legs also helps the insects in providing a larger surface area and in evenly distributing their weight. They take the advantage of their hydrophobic legs and the high surface tension of water to skate through the surface water. Their legs are super buoyant which keeps them afloat even during heavy rains. Due to this buoyancy, their legs can support up to fifteen times their body weight.
How do water striders capture their prey?
The water strider true bugs are dangerous predators. Their high speed and sensors to detect the movement of their prey on the surface of the water make them very efficient. Their front legs are used to hold their prey and they feed on it by jabbing its body with their proboscis and injecting a chemical that helps break down the prey's innards. Then they proceed to slurp out the fluids and discard the rest.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including the Christmas beetle and the bombardier beetle.
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