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Water Strider (Gerris spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Water Strider.

 Updated: 3/25/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The amazing properties of water and its simple physical attributes allow a Water Strider to stay afloat and even move across a calm aquatic surface.



Long, thin hind legs give Water Striders a slight resemblance to spiders, but they are not related. Mating pairs may appear to be one larger, eight-legged Water Strider, which also looks like an arachnid except it is floating. Because water has a high surface tension and the insect has hairy legs, a Water Strider is able to coast across the surface without breaking the attractive bonds between each dihydrogen oxide molecule. It can stand still, glide, and even skip across water effortlessly. Some species also have wings.

Females lay fertilized eggs just under the water's surface. Nymphs molt many times as they grow larger and develop into adults. Both nymphs and adults consume insects and other small creatures that fall into the water nearby. Adults are even known to prey on very young Water Striders and do not seem able to identify their own children. Though they are aquatic predators, they are not a threat to humans.

Look for Water Striders on still or slow-moving waters such as ponds, puddles, lagoons, streams, creeks, lakes, and coves.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Gerridae
          Genus: Gerris
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Gerris spp.
Other Name(s): Pond Skater
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 16mm (0.43in to 0.62in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black
Descriptors: long, skinny, float, aquatic, water, harmless
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
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New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
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Tennessee
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Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.