backswimmer

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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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Water Boatman

Adult

Body Description

Water boatmen are shaped like a flat football and average in length from 1/3-1/2 maximum. Their oar shaped legs are distinguishing because of their oaring locomotion. Boatmen carry a bubble on their belly. Their body color is a drab brownish black with subtle barring of dirty yellow, brown olive, gray-brown. The belly is a light to dark brown or dirty white to dull yellow.

Snails

Adult

Body Description

Snails have a rather unique shell with a retractable body. Their body colors usually match the colorization of the water bottom, with olives, browns, or blackish shells.

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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 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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water boatman See NOTONECTIDAE.

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backswimmer See NOTONECTIDAE.

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water boatman: see water bug.