Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

National Moth Week photos of insects and people. Here's how to add your images.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa


Family Veliidae - Smaller Water Striders

Skater Mater - Microvelia Gerridae - Rhagovelia - male - female Aquatic bug - Microvelia Rhagovelia Water Strider? veliid Hemipteran 4.6.18 - Microvelia Male, Rhagovelia? - Rhagovelia distincta
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 Gerromorpha (Semiaquatic Bugs)
Superfamily Gerroidea
Family Veliidae (Smaller Water Striders)
Other Common Names
Riffle Bugs, Broad-Shouldered Water Striders; Ripple Bugs (genus Rhagovelia)
Explanation of Names
Veliidae Amyot & Serville 1843
the largest gerromorphan family, with almost 1000 spp. in ~60 genera worldwide(1); second largest in our area, with 34 spp. in 5 genera(2); 9 spp. in 2 genera in MI(3); 18 spp. in 5 genera in FL(4)
1.5-6 mm(4) (exotic spp. up to 9 mm)(5)
pronotum broader than abdomen (as reflected in the common name); hind femur not longer than abdomen; pre-apical tarsal claws; usually wingless and dark-colored, sometimes with silvery markings
key to NA genera in(6)(4)(7)
NB: to tell adults from nymphs, look at meso-/metatarsi (one-segmented in nymphs, two-segmented in adults)
worldwide; in our area, so. Canada and throughout the US(6)
on water surface among vegetation in temporary or permanent ponds, lake margins, placid areas of streams (Microvelia and Velia species) or in rapids/riffles in streams (Rhagovelia species); some may be found on plants away from water(4), also saltwater habitats, mud flats(1)
predaceous on other surface-dwelling arthropods, detecting prey via surface vibrations
Pretarsal structure most diverse among Gerromorpha, the mesotarsal ventral arolium (turned into a 'swimming fan') being the most distinctive feature(8)
Works Cited
1.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.
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Bright E. (2002-2011) Aquatic Insects of Michigan
4.Identification manual for the aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera of Florida
Epler J.H. 2006. FL Dept. Env. Prot., Tallahassee, FL. 186 pp.
5.What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families
6.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
7.The Veliidae (Heteroptera) of America north of Mexico
Smith, Cecil L. and John T. Polhemus. 1978. Proceedings of The Entomological Society of Washington 80(1): 56-68.
8.Evolution of the Insects
David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel. 2005.