Common Name(s): Water Boatman
Water boatmen are somewhat flattened and elongate in shape. They have the hind two pairs of legs fitted with hairs and the tarsi of the hind legs is scoop or oar-shaped which allows them to swim. Adults range in length from 3/16 to 3/8 inch (3 to 11 mm) long and are usually dull colored and often mottled.
Water boatmen are the largest group of aquatic true bugs. They are sometimes confused with backswimmers (Hemiptera: Notonectidae) because they have the same general shape. However, backswimmers swim upside down in the water and are colored with the wings lighter than the leg area. Adults are relatively small and soft bodied so they do not preserve well on insect pins.
Their sucking mouthparts are modified to allow some chewing. Water boatmen often swim in open water. They can be seen in groups or clusters swimming through a pond. They feed on plant material, including algae. Water boatmen can be collected with aquatic nets.
Immatures are similar to the adult and share the habitat.