There are still varieties of bugs around as we go into mid-October. One section of the blog is bugs on Lily Pads. I saw a water strider on one and took a photograph of it and then started looking at what else was there and was somewhat amazed. Some of the photographs are fuzzy as the Lily Pad was a ways from the pier. They are clear enough to give some idea of the diversity of creatures that populate the Lily Pads.
That speed is essential for the strider’s most important task: snatching prey off the water’s surface. While striders don’t bite people, they are highly efficient predators. A water strider rapidly grabs a small insect with its front legs, then uses its mouthparts to pierce the prey’s body and suck out its juices.
They are particularly effective predators of mosquito larvae. As the Backyard Arthropod Project blog writes, “Since mosquito larvae breathe through a snorkel that they poke through the surface of the water, the water striders can grab them by the snorkel and eat them.
Recent research provides the answer. Water strider legs are covered in thousands of microscopic hairs scored with tiny groves. As reported in National Geographic, “These groves trap air, increasing water resistance of the water’s striders legs and overall buoyancy of the insect.”
The water skipper’s legs are so buoyant they can support fifteen times the insect’s weight without sinking. Even in a rainstorm, or in waves, the strider stays afloat.
If a water strider’s legs go underwater, it’s very difficult for them to push to the surface.
Their legs are more buoyant than even ducks’ feathers.
The ultra-floatation capabilities of water skipper legs may have applications for human use, such as self-cleaning surfaces and antidew materials.
A lily Pad is a lively place if closely observed.