Common Water Strider

Gerris remigis

Copyright, Charles Lewallen

The Common Water Strider is water bug that looks a lot like a big mosquito walking on the surface of the water.

Its body can grow just over 1/2 inch long and is dark brown or black. Like all insects, it has six legs. The front pair of legs is short, and the middle and back legs are very long.

Water striders live on the surface of ponds, slow streams, marshes, and other quiet waters.

Peter J. Bryant

Peter J. Bryant

Common Water Striders eat living and dead insects on the surface of the water. Some are aquatic (water) insects, such as mosquito larvae coming up from the bottom, and others are terrestrial (land) insects, such as butterflies or beetles that accidentally land on the surface.

Injured dragonflies are a favorite food, as are worms that fall in the water. Water striders have a sharp mouthpart, called a rostrum, to suck up body juices from prey.

Common Water Striders have very good vision and move quickly on the water. The short front legs of a water strider are for grabbing prey. The middle legs push the insect forward, and the hind legs steer. The shape of their legs and their light weight keep them from breaking through the surface.

In breeding season, water striders communicate by sending ripples to each other on the surface of the water.

Females lay eggs at the water's edge, usually on plant stems. When eggs hatch, nymphs (baby striders) must grow for over a month before they become adult water striders.

Water Striders must always keep moving to so they don't become prey themselves to fish or other predators. These insects do not have wings. They are usually in large groups and prefer the protection of overhanging trees and shade.

Common Water Striders can live for many months, and adults can overwinter. They can crawl inside a plant stem when it gets too cold.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Water Strider (small version)
Video
Mark Moran
Water Strider (large version)
Video (Long download, approx 1 minute on T1)
Mark Moran
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Bluegill

Common Cattail

Water Flea

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Lizard's Tail

Mayfly

Creek Chub

Yellow Pond Lily

Stonefly

Golden Shiner

Tussock Sedge

Ebony Jewelwing

Largemouth Bass

Pickerelweed

Clouded Sulphur

Black Crappie

Common Reed

Earthworm

Bullfrog

Black Willow

Honey Bee

Southern Leopard Frog

Buttonbush

Pennsylvania Firefly

Eastern Newt

Spotted Jewelweed

Green Darner

Three-lined Salamander

Marsh Bulrush

Eastern Dobsonfly

Green Frog

Common Duckweed

Black Carpenter Ant

Greater Bladderwort

Fungus Gnat

Long-leaf Pondweed

Field Cricket

American Sycamore

Crane Fly

White Oak

Giant Willow Aphid

Sweetgum

Poison Ivy

Wild Grape

Japanese Honeysuckle

Wild Rice

Relationship to Humans:

Common Water Striders are helpful since they control insect populations, especially mosquitos. They do no harm.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Insect
ORDER
Hemiptera
FAMILY
Gerridae
GENUS
Gerris
SPECIES
Gerris remigis

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