Common Water Striders (Aquarius (=Gerris) remigis)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured) $15.  Live: $5 each (seasonal).
Geographic Range: North America
View: Top View  Sex: Male (top) & Female (bottom)
Size: Body Length: 12-16 mm

Availability Notes: Available both live and dead.

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Aquarius remigis is commonly known as a "water strider" or "skater bug". It can be found on the surface of freshwater ponds and lakes, as well as slow-moving streams and rivers, throughout North America. The sexes communicate with ripples and similar vibrations alert them to potential prey. Any insect encountered on the surface film - be it an emerging mosquito or a drowning moth - is attacked. Large insects may be converged upon by numerous individuals, who all insert their rostrums into the dying insect and suck out its body fluids. A. remigis will also scavenge on small, floating carcasses it happens to encounter and can actually be fed using any kind of meat that floats. This ready acceptance of so many foods makes A. remigis an easy insect to keep in captivity. Females lay parallel rows of off-white cylindrical eggs near the shoreline, just below the surface of the water. It takes the eggs a few weeks to hatch and about 5 more weeks for the nymphs to mature. In the northern part of their range, adult A. remigis hibernate in fallen leaves and debris along the shoreline of their home stretch of water. Although they are the first true bugs out of hibernation (sometimes while there is still snow on the ground), they make up for it by leaving their aquatic homes early in fall to hibernate. Aquarius remigis was, until recently, assigned to the genus Gerris. The genera Aquarius and Gerris closely resemble each other (Aquarius species have prominent connexival spines while Gerris species do not) and it is difficult to identify individual species without a hand lens and identification key.