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Water Strider (Gerris spp.)

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

 Updated: 8/1/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Water Strider  
Picture of Water-Strider
Picture of Water-Strider

The amazing properties of water and simple physical attributes allow Water Striders 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 appear to be a larger, eight-legged Water Strider, which also looks like a floating arachnid. Because water has a high surface tension and the insect has hairy legs, Water Striders are able to coast across the surface without breaking the attractive bonds between each dihydrogen oxide molecule. They 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 will 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.

Water Strider Information

Category: True Bug
Common Name: Water Strider
Scientific Name: Gerris spp.
Other Name(s): Pond Skater

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hemiptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Gerridae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Gerris
       Arrow graphic Species: spp.

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 11 mm to 16 mm (0.429 inches to 0.624 inches)
Identifying Colors: black
Additional Descriptors: long, skinny, float, aquatic, water, harmless

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): 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; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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