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backswimmer

backswimmer, common name for water bugs of the cosmopolitan family Notonectidae, so named because they swim upside down, usually near the surface of the water. They have oval bodies and long, oarlike hind legs, with which they swim rapidly, but their backs are more convex than those of the water boatmen. The exposed belly is yellowish to black. Backswimmers, 1/8 to 1/2 in. (3–12 mm) long, feed on small crustaceans, insect larvae, snails, and sometimes on small fish and tadpoles from which they suck the body juices. They can inflict a painful bite on a human being. Most of the 50 North American species overwinter as adults. The eggs are usually laid on submerged plants or rocks and development to the adult stage takes 40 to 60 days. Backswimmers are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Hemiptera, family Notonectidae.

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Notonectidae

Notonectidae (backswimmers, water boatmen; order Hemiptera, suborder Heteroptera) Family of predatory, aquatic bugs, which swim in the water with their backs directed downwards, propelling themselves by means of the hair-fringed hind pair of legs; hence their common names. The front two pairs of legs are used to grasp prey. There are about 200 species, distributed world-wide.

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water boatman

water boatman Aquatic insect found worldwide. Its body is grey to black, oval and flat, with fringed, oar-like hind legs. Length: about 15mm (0.6in). Order Hemiptera; family Corixidae. The carnivorous ‘backswimmers’ of the family Notonectidae are also sometimes called water boatmen.

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backswimmer

backswimmer See NOTONECTIDAE.

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