Jan 092010
photo provided courtesy of knickinoptic on Flickr Creative CommonsNumber of species worldwide500 known
Homeglobal subarctic and sub Antarctic freshwater
Habitatplacid water surfaces
Nichepredatory insect
Favorite Foodother insects
Notable Featurelegs that feature tiny hairs that trap water molecules, allowing the water strider to walk on water

Water striders experience the surface of water much differently than most animals. Water has a property known as surface tension, and it’s this quality that allows the water striders to literally walk on water. And they don’t just walk, they LEAP across the surface of the water in such smooth movements that it looks like an inch-long insect is taking foot-long strides.

Needless to say, only the quickest predators are able to snare water striders. Not only do they live in an environment where most terrestrial creatures fear to tread, but they can sprint over the top of it at a split-second’s notice. Able to sense minute vibrations rippling through the surface of the water through small hairs on their legs, they’re alerted to danger far sooner than it usually strikes.

Water striders take advantage of their unique habitat by capturing insects less than fortunate. If a small fly falls onto the water and is trapped by the surface tension, a nearby water strider is quick to gobble it up. The same sensors it uses to detect danger allow it to pinpoint the location of struggling prey.

Kings of the water’s mirror, water striders are marvels of nature on the winding rivers and pools of freshwater across the world.

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