While there are many species of insects that live on the ground, in trees and under rocks, there is also a whole world of bugs that have adapted to live in bodies of water such as ponds. These aquatic insects each have their own unique characteristics that allow them to swim and live efficiently in the water.
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Backswimmers, commonly known as water bees or water wasps, are aquatic insects found in ponds and slow flowing streams throughout North America. Contrary to what their common names suggest, backswimmers are not bees or wasps--they are in fact in the order Hemiptera, the same group as cicadas and grasshoppers. These unique insects can be identified by their habit of swimming upside down and by their long, inward pointing hind legs. Backswimmers are able to stay submerged under water for up to six hours by holding air in pockets located within their abdomen.
Water striders are aquatic insects found on the surface of permanent ponds and slow-moving areas of streams and rivers throughout North America. While water striders are often mistaken for spiders because of their long legs, they are in fact insects belonging to the order Hemiptera. Water striders can be identified by their ability to "walk on water"-- special hairs on the underside of the insect's feet allow it to stride across the surface of the water.
Water boatmen are aquatic insects ranging in length from 3/16 to 3/8 of an inch that are found in ponds and lakes throughout North America, as well as in many other parts of the world. While the water boatman is often confused with its close relative the backswimmer, they can be distinguished by their swimming habits: backswimmers swim upside down, boatmen do not. The water boatmen can also identified by their large eyes and unique, oar-shaped back legs, which allow them to swim quickly and efficiently. These insects are a very important food source to fish and are considered beneficial to pond life.
The whirligig beetle is a small, oval shaped beetle, dark brown or black in colour, that is commonly found on the surface of both moving and still water, especially ponds and streams. The whirligig beetles can be identified by their bizarre swimming behaviour: they often spin erratically on the surface of the water. Another unique characteristic of the whirligig beetle is its divided eyes, or eyes that allow the bugs to see under and above the water at the same time while swimming.
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