Water Striders

Water striders (Gerridae) can walk on water, and for that reason, they have also been called Jesus bugs. You can find them on almost any pond, lake, or stream and some species even walk on the ocean.

Water striders are designed to use the surface tension of the water and long legs that are hydrophobic (repel water) to spread their weight over a wide area. Their body and legs are covered by several thousand tiny hairs per square millimeter. These hairs repel water and allow the insect to keep its entire body above the water, even in rainstorms.

If a large wave should cover the water strider, the hairs will trap air bubbles lifting the insect back up and providing air to breathe until it reaches the surface. The water strider moves over the water very quickly by using its middle legs to row and its back legs to steer.

Water striders use water for more than just locomotion. They also communicate by creating small waves or ripples in the water. If another water strider approaches, a male will send out a 25 Hz signal as a warning, “Stay out of my territory.” If the approaching strider does not respond with the same signal, the male will know the approaching strider is a female. Then he will change to the 3 Hz courtship signal, “Hey, sweetie, how about spending some time together.” The female may be receptive, or she may use the 10 Hz threat signal, “Get lost, loser.” (Those translations of bug language may not be completely accurate, but close.)

The point is that this tiny insect is amazingly well designed as a part of the world God created.
© Roland Earnst

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