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Family Notonectidae - Backswimmers

Water Bug - Notonecta irrorata Backswimmer - Notonecta irrorata Backswimmer? - Notonecta kirbyi Backswimmer - Notonecta lunata Backswimmer - Notonecta Backswimmer - Buenoa Very small backswimmer from pond - Notonecta backswimmer - Notonecta
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Heteroptera (True Bugs)
Infraorder Nepomorpha (Aquatic Bugs)
Superfamily Notonectoidea
Family Notonectidae (Backswimmers)
Other Common Names
Water Bees, Water Wasps
Numbers
2 subfamilies, with 32 spp. in 3 genera in NA(1)(2) and 400 spp. in 11 genera worldwide(3)
Size
5-15 mm(3)
Identification
Aquatic bugs that often swim upside-down. When resting at the surface, body is typically tilted with the head downward. Characteristics(4)(5):
hind legs modified for swimming, with long hairs
front legs not scoop-like (unlike in Corixidae)
dorsum convex, V-shaped when viewed from tip of abdomen
wings clear, tips without veins
eyes relatively close together--typically separated by less than the width of one eye
Accurate identification of species often requires examining stridulatory structures and male genitalia.
Keys to genera/species provided in(6)(1)(7)(8)(9)
Range
Throughout North America
Habitat
Ponds, freshwater pools, slow flowing streams
Food
Prey on other aquatic insects and sometimes on small vertebrates; nymphs often cannibalistic
Life Cycle
Elongated white eggs are cemented to underwater plant stems and hatch in a few weeks; first-generation adults appear in July; often 2 generations a year(10)
Remarks
May bite if handled carelessly
Dive by holding air trapped in abdominal pockets; can remain submerged for up to 6 hrs
Come to lights; may invade swimming pools and become a nuisance
Males have a stridulatory apparatus probably used to attract females and communicate during courtship
See Also
Water Boatmen (Corixidae) have rather flat body (often cross-streaked with dark lines) and scoop-shaped front tarsi(11), and swim dorsal side up
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Biodiversity of the Heteroptera
Henry T.J. 2009. In: Foottit R.G., Adler P.H., eds. Insect biodiversity: Science and society. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell: 223-263.
4.Photographic Atlas of Entomology and Guide To Insect Identification
James L. Castner. 2000. Feline Press.
5.How to Know the Insects
Roger G. Bland, H.E. Jaques. 1978. WCB/McGraw-Hill.
6.How to Know the True Bugs
Slater, James A., and Baranowski, Richard M. 1978. Wm. C. Brown Company.
7.Identification manual for the aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera of Florida
Epler J.H. 2006. FL Dept. of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, FL. 186 pp.
8.Bright E. (2002-2011) Aquatic Insects of Michigan
9.Clifford H.F. (1991) Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta
10.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
11.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
12.Australian Faunal Directory