Pumpkinseeds and Water Boatman vs. Backswimmers
Water Boatman vs. Backswimmers
We’re not talking about people who like the water...we’re talking about bugs! Aquac bugs. Both water boatman and backswimmers spend most of their lives in the water. They belong to the insect Order Hemiptera,
which means “true bug.” They look similar to one another and many people confuse them. Some people even
think they are the same bug. But while they share some characteriscs, each are unique in their own way.
A Water Boatman (le&) looks a bit like a beetle. They are
slender and oval-shaped, with long, lightly-haired hind legs
that look like oars. They live underwater, but need to come
to the surface to breathe. When they dive they trap bubbles of air against their body to breathe underwater. In order to keep themselves from ﬂoa*ng back to the surface
water boatman hook a short foreleg to a plant or other
object to hold them below the surface while they eat.
Water boatman are one of the few Hemipteras that do NOT
eat other creatures. Instead they feed on plants. Their
mouth is like a straw, allowing them to suck nutrients from
algae and other aqua*c plants.
Water boatman swim upright in the water. They a,ach
their eggs to underwater objects. When the young hatch
they look like miniature adults—without the wings. As
winged adults, both water boatman & backswimmers can
ﬂy out of the water.
Backswimmers (right) are more streamlined than water
boatman, but both have oar-shaped hind legs with ﬁne
hairs. They swim belly-up! They rest on the surface with
their head in the water and the p of their abdomen scking out of the water.
Backswimmers also trap air bubbles against their body
when they dive and need to grab an underwater object to
hold them beneath the surface.
However, backswimmers are predators. They use their
straw-like, tube-shaped mouth to make a snging bite to
subdue their prey (bugs, tadpoles, *ny ﬁsh) and then they
suck out its juices. And backswimmers can bite people too.
Water boatman do not bite.
Backswimmers make a cricket-like sound to a,ract a mate
and also lay their eggs underwater.