Common Name: Water strider
Scientific Name: Gerris sp.
Description: Water striders are long-legged and slender although some species have more robust bodies. Adults may be winged or wingless. The claws on their “feet” arise before the tip (preapical claws) which allows them to “skate” on the surface film. Part of their hind legs, the femora, are usually very long. Adults are 3/16 to 3/4 inch (3 to 20 mm) long but the long legs make them appear much larger.
The shortlegged striders (Hemiptera: Veliidae), and water treaders (Hemiptera: Mesoveliidae) are generally smaller but share similar habitats. Broad-shouldered water striders or riffle bugs (Hemiptera: Veliidae) are similar to water striders but are smaller (less than 1/4 inch long), usually wingless, and brown or black in color with silvery markings. They are gregarious, feed on small insects and occur near the in streams and ponds.
Life Cycle: Immatures and adults share the same habitat.
Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: They sit and skate on the surface of ponds, lakes and slow moving areas of streams. Water striders capture live or dead insects from the water surface. They use sucking mouthparts to drain body fluids from the insects they capture.
Pest Status: Considered beneficial and not a pest, predatory on other insects; medically harmless.
Management: None, considered beneficial.
For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.
Literature: McCafferty 1981.