how do aquatic insects use the surface of water?

illustration showing how 3 aquatic insects use the surface tension in water

I love the fact that many insects pass through an aquatic stage on their way towards maturity.  And those that spend their whole lives either in water, or never more than metatarsal-length away from it…fascinating!

The myriad different paths of evolution that those insects, (and arachnids for that matter) have evolved to make a go of it full time are just amazing to ponder.  I did this project to explore (just) 3 ways that 2 hemipterans and 1 coleopteran use surface tension differently.

The gerrid, (“water skeeter”) seems to hover on the water’s surface, propped up on its legtips inside concave cups of unpierced surface tension.  Its mindboggling to watch how quickly they beat their way across a body of water.

The gyrinid has a 2 pairs of eyes!  One to monitor what is going on above the surface, and one to track the comings and goings below.  It beats its paddle-like legs and rests “within” the surface…meaning a waterline bisects its gorgeous hydrodynamic curves.

The Notonectid is something like the Gerrid but in an inverse paradigm…it rests what we think of as upside down with its leg tips resting on the surface tension…but from below!  How cool is that?

the ratios of these insects to one another have been modified slightly to allow them to mingle comfortably on the page.  you can check out this image in greater resolution in my portfolio.

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